As some of you probably already know from random announcements, Facebook or whatever, I’m starting an online Library Science degree just about… right now. Apparently I forgot to mention it to my mom, who is not on Facebook and I guess can no longer read my mind.
If this all sounds dry and school assignment-like, it is. But I think it’s good information to share anyway.
While I’m just starting up taking classes again, the first graded classes since 2007, there are a lot of different personal skills that I have to have or acquire to be a successful student. A lot of these skills aren’t my strongest ones but I’m determined to use this Masters Degree to make them much stronger.
I’m awesome at time management on paper. I can make great lists and schedules. I even get excited about making them. However putting them to use is another issue (this is another reason why I never ended up running in the Color Run. I walked, sure. But I couldn’t get myself to the gym enough to work up my running endurance. So I ran for about a minute. More on this later!). I just can’t get myself in the game enough to consistently be on top of everything I need to be on top of. This can be solved by sticking to a set schedule and hopefully the resistance will melt away. I plan to have certain hours blocked into my schedule as class and homework time. And I will stick to those because otherwise procrastinating will make it really difficult in the long run.
I like to think I can be organized. I’m easily overwhelmed but when I put things on paper I can sort it all out rather well. I think taking online classes will actually improve my organization skills because I’ll be organized in that one aspect, keeping notes in separate notebooks, tracking tasks and assignments in a calendar (or maybe even two) and regularly checking e-mails and discussion messages. And responding. I don’t have an issue with already checking them. This rolls over to real life though, in many different ways. At my current job I have to be organized. I need to keep track of money and customers’ problems and people I need to get back to. At home organization helps you from losing things, it keeps the overall energy of a room flowing better and it makes people feel more calm in general.
When I was a freshman at MCLA I took a writing class where the professor told us to set a time every single day, the same time that is, to write. And you might sit there for days on end getting a line or two out but eventually the words will come. Inspiration will show up. You train your brain to think in certain ways when you are doing certain things. So planning in certain times for class work, or writing novels actually helps you to be more inspired. It’s like Nike says, just do it. Discipline comes from within. It comes from that place where your mind overrides your emotions and you fight through the resistance. You need discipline to change any habit, to improve yourself in any way. Part of my plan of attack involves aromatherapy. I bought Badger Balm’s Focus Balm which is Citrus and Ginger scented. I plan on having it around/ on me when I am writing or doing school work and at no other times. Eventually the scent will get me in that mood to do work. I’m excited about this little experiment.
Teamwork is another huge aspect of online learning. Projects are assigned to teams where you have to work with people online who you’ve never met before and may never meet in person. All of the life skills I mentioned above are necessary, but there are other ones likes patience and acceptance and negotiability that come in handy when working with other people also. You need to be willing to see others’ points of view, willing to work just as hard or harder than everyone else and to respond to everyone promptly so the project doesn’t fall behind. Many people don’t like the idea of teamwork because they think it really means that they have to do all the work if they need to get the grade they want. I think it’s important to trust your team mates and communicate effectively to make sure you all have the same goals in mind. Teams exist everywhere in life, not just in distance learning. They’re part of most peoples’ every day life whether it’s through their job responsibilities or outside groups or projects or just trying to manage a house hold and a family.
There are a few things I learned recently about working in teams, especially when it comes to school work and online learning. Dr. Ken Haycock spoke at a presentation specifically about teamwork related to distance learning and the real world. He illustrated different types of teams including permanent and temporary. Permanent teams are made up of groups such as children’s librarians where their careers or job positions make it so they will be part of this group for a long period of time. Temporary groups address a specific issue or problem that needs to be solved. Teams for distance learning are temporary groups because they are assembled for a small period of time to accomplish a specific project goal.
Dr. Haycock says there are five dysfunctions of working in groups. The five dysfunctions are: absence of team, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidable of accountability and inattention to results.
These dysfunctions can be avoided with:
*clear expectations within the group,
* addressed roles and responsibilities to create accountability
* picking a team leader who will work to keep the group in order and who will also assign tasks
* ground rules (such as arrive on time, be prepared, etc.) that will help teams work together smoothly
Enid Erwin suggestion that the benefit of working in teams is it allows students to apply experience from teams to real life situations (specifically in jobs, organization and committees). Being on time, helping out others, showing up to be a part of something and collaborating are all skills that can are necessary to work on problems in work environments.
Overall I’m looking forward to accepting these new and necessary challenges to help me to succeed with my Masters in Library Science. I have quite a road ahead of me but I’m excited to finally start the journey.