Back to Work, Back to School, Back to Groups: Personal Skills Assessment and Teamwork Post

by Colette Hayes

According to the Library of Congress, "This poster was created by one of the thousands of artists who participated in the Federal Art Project (FAP) during the Great Depression."

The Online Readiness Assessment from San Diego Community College tells me that “You scored above 45! You are ready for online learning!” Ok, then!

More so than the SDCC ORA quiz, I really liked the “Is Online Right for You?” slide in this module. Whoever wrote the six bullet points on that slide could not have been more concise and clear. I’m confident about the last three bullet points on that list – I like working independently, I’m very comfortable with technology, and I like a challenge. The first three bullet points on the list are ones I know I’m going to have to work on, though. My organization skills are at times stellar, and at times, not so great. Likewise, I’m generally self-motivated and have strong time management skills, but those also tend to wax and wane. I’m not worried about keeping up with online discussions every day. In fact, I’m worried I’ll log on too many times for no good reason when I should be writing my final papers! I’m confident I’ll complete the readings, and finish smaller assignments, but I know from experience that the longer projects and papers will be challenging for me. If I am more systematic than I have been in the past about these things, hopefully I can create some habits that make things run more smoothly towards the middle and end of the semester when these larger projects tend to be due. In order to be more consistent, I plan to use some of the tips that this unit suggested. For example, I will set up a regular time every day to devote to reading and logging on. And I also like the idea of purchasing a large calendar to map out assignments so that they are very visible somewhere at home. I was somewhat surprised to read that online classes take more time than traditional classes. I see that now – constructing thoughtful posts and responses takes much more time than simply raising one’s hand in class!

Thinking about the way I work personally was a good activity to engage in before thinking about the way I work in groups and teams. By now, I’ve worked on many team projects, some small and some large, some academic and some professional. I’ve learned about teamwork “on the job” so-to-speak. Ken Haycock’s lecture named a lot of the experiences I’ve had. The “Forming (Orientation), Storming (Dissatisfaction), Norming (Resolution), and Performing (Production)” stages are certainly stages I recognize, but now I have names for these stages, and will remember, as Haycock suggests, to be more cognizant of these stages in new team projects. As Haycock states, “If you know these stages, it’s easier,” and I think those are great words of advice. Rather than skip stages or rush through them, I like the idea of acknowledging and working through them. I also like Haycock’s suggestion that “someone be responsible for helping the team move through these stages” – while teams I’ve been on always seem to choose a secretary or recorder, choosing a team leader isn’t something that most of the teams I’ve been have done. Or perhaps a team leader or project leader is designated, but doesn’t understand the stages or doesn’t want the job. Some other things I liked about Ken Haycock’s lecture: his encouragement to “put it on the table” and to have “courageous conversations.” In fact, I think he repeated the phrase “put it on the table” several times throughout the lecture. Haycock discouraged side-conversations and conflict avoidance, stating: “Bearing with the problem is the most destructive way of dealing with team dynamics.” In short, good teams communicate, communicate, communicate respectfully and earnestly until the job is done.

Speaking of great communication, Enid Irwin’s lecture was informative and fun! Now, while I know I’m not the “silent” type that Irwin discussed in her talk, I know that I have to resist being the “the control freak, the team hijacker, the person who has to do it all!” I’ve become a lot better about this in my old-ish age! I liked Irwin’s reminders about “attitude and planning,” and her suggestion that teamwork is always a learning opportunity and an opportunity to mentor someone else. I know that I have benefited from the mentoring I’ve received while working on teams.

In conclusion, the lectures in this module underscored that teamwork is challenging. As Haycock and Irwin stressed, however, with a positive attitude and some key skills, teamwork doesn’t have to be a bad experience. In fact, teamwork can be rewarding and get the job done!