Educators who see themselves as life-long learners and are willing to “try something new” are experiencing positive student growth. The students and the teacher are a team working together toward a common goal: success for all.

Marie Rivoire’s book For a Better Work Group is an important resource for educators willing to create a “success for all classroom” by exploring a student-centered system of collaboration and evaluation. Ms. Rivoire’s work, tested for many years in her language classroom, is sound pedagogy as she spells out very clearly how and why this system works. She offers explicit guidelines, logical reasoning and activity descriptions that actually work just as she explains in the book.  I have tried several of the activities listed at the back of the book, and they were highly successful in increasing student participation and engagement.  I have been teaching the French language over twenty-five years and collaborative grouping has always been the fundamental makeup of my classroom. However, I never managed to create an effective system of management and evaluation, and Ms. Rivoire’s activity point system is just what I need as a formative assessment tool.  This system does create a positive student-centered classroom where fear is diminished and collaborative leadership grows.  When students admit that they are “afraid” of entering a classroom because of social ridicule (wrong answer, incorrect pronunciation, lost) or academic failure (not doing homework for many reasons), their learning shuts down, and sometimes we, as educators are at a loss often believing “there is nothing I can do.”  I appreciate how Head Master Jacqueline Rimet-Meille describes Ms. Rivoire: “she refuses to allow her pupils to fail and postulates that if they do not learn, it is because the educator has not yet found the key.” I agree with Ms. Rivoire;  failure is not an option, and I admire her initiative in finding a way to connect the disconnected.

For A Better Work Group” has been written by an educator who believes in the success of all children and has a deep understanding on how to create a happy and successful classroom environment.  Ms. Rivoire’s work has already made my classroom more equitable and student-centered.

For those of us who teach in the United States, we know that a Common Core Initiative is that students “come to understand other perspectives and cultures”. By implementing Ms. Rivoire’s system,  we will construct a “twenty-first-century classroom ... in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together”.

From a clearly-outlined management system to step-by-step activities for immediate use, For a Better Group Work is an essential resource in every language classroom. As Ms. Rivoire explains, one of many positive effects for the students is “more autonomy and self-control” ; students will thrive….and so will the teacher.

Robin McMahon
French Teacher
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Smith Middle School
Chapel Hill, NC