[Editor’s Note: This school year, many students are learning online and at home–which is uniquely challenging. In this #schoolathome series, we are asking: What difference does Jesus make in our new normal? How can we live out this season well? To not just survive, but thrive? We hope you discover some helpful and practical tips along the way.]

A lament over group work

O God my Teacher,

I’ll raise my hand in protest,

I’ll hunt you down during office hours,

I’ll send you as many emails as it takes—

      after all, you gave me your address.

For you’ve handed me yet another group project!

Another assignment made so complicated and awkward and inefficient 

      by people I don’t really know and can’t know because it’s still stinking COVID.

Why must I work with others again and again and again? 

How long before I can just do what I need to do—myself? 

      (I’m not asking for what I want here, but what I need.)

If we are going to do this, then here’s what I’ll need:

      You say “Love,” so give me love.

      You say “Don’t be afraid,” so give me courage.

      You say “Forgive seventy-seven times,” so give me patience,

           and math skills everywhere except in this counting.

O God, I’m calling you my teacher because I know you do teach— 

      so teach! This is your time to shine: polish me. 

This group is more than I can manage;

      or maybe I can figure out these folks, but not the work waiting for us.

This is not my forte, but it is my fortune.

      Don’t leave me, your student, to be taught by anyone else.

As you school me—even if it must be online, at home— 

as you school me, one day I’ll learn to praise,

      one day I’ll thank you for these groups. 

Good Teacher, I know you know all about working with others

      (in groups of 3 and 12 especially).

So I know this lesson is worth learning from you.

      I know your tests are fair, even if they are hard. 

      I know you’re answering me now,

           even if it’s with another of your questions.

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About the Author

Sam Robins

Sam loves writing: blog articles, short stories, poetry, and even academic papers at McMaster Divinity College, in Hamilton, ON. Otherwise, you’ll probably find Sam outdoors, whether on a bicycle, in a canoe, or somewhere lost in the woods.

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