When I did something hard

Blog: Something Hard | When I did something hard | Stacey Sansom

I sat down a little while ago and took a good look at the assignments for this week in Pathway. I still had one assignment to complete for REL121 for week 9, but I wanted to look ahead since this week is Thanksgiving week. I did not want to get caught off-guard.

This is not going to be a light week with school work this week. Lots of reading as usual. Lots of talks to watch/read as usual. We don’t have Thursday Gathering this week though. So there is one thing. I have to say that I am kind of sad because I love our Thursday night gatherings.

Anyway, looking ahead revealed these assignments:

  • Christlike Attributes Project Plan (REL121)
  • Doctrinal Discussion (REL121)
  • Lesson Topic Discussion (GS120)
  • Application Activity (GS120)
  • Teach A Friend (GS120)

This is a small fraction of the work when you compare it to the overall “to do” list that I create each week before getting started with the list of assignments.

A little aside thought here:

I have decided that while I initially did not find Google Keep as helpful as it appeared it would be from a business standpoint, it is proving to be a blessing in the classroom setting. This is especially true when you are actively using Google Docs as well. They integrate so nicely. It doesn’t always make sense to use Google Docs when doing my Pathway assignments, but it does make some things easier.

For example, the Application Activities, I use Libre Office to complete these because I have to upload the file through the Pathway Bright Space LMS system. If I use Google Docs, I have to do all the work and then download the file just so I can upload it into the Pathway assignment submission section. That’s extra work.

For typing up the preliminary thoughts for the discussion assignments, it makes way more sense – I can type, copy, and paste. I can access these from anywhere and work on them as needed regardless of where I am or if I have access to my computer.

I even can take notes directly in Google Keep and then import things right over into Google Docs. During Thursday Gatherings, I type my notes using Google Keep. They are less important, in my opinion, than the other notes I take during the week. I want to keep track of the information, but not the paper. If that even makes sense.

If you have never used Google Keep, I highly recommend that you give it a try. You might be surprised. This is supposedly an even better option if you use a tablet and can write your notes out. I’ve taken pictures of things on the board, included links, etc. Fairly flexible.

Back to the rest of the post

It basically boils down to what is involved in each of these assignments. I am so glad that I went ahead and looked because at least two of these assignments are time consuming and one of these same assignments is also work intensive. I am not complaining about this particular assignment per say, I am just grateful that I followed that nagging feeling to “go look and see what you have to do this week.”

So I did.

There is a lot to do on top of Thanksgiving preparations and working the whole seamstress scene. I am trying not to stress out or panic.

Confession: I sometimes struggle

Sometimes I struggle with certain assignments. Not because they are necessarily hard, but because of what is being asked. So far my least favorite assignments during the week are:

  • Share it!
  • Teach A Friend

These assignments aren’t hard per say. It should be natural, right? We’ve learned it and now we get to share it with someone else. Alas, I do struggle with these. It makes me uncomfortable. It puts me in a stupor all week – every single time.

I have not figured out what makes these two assignments such a struggle for me. We have to pick a topic and share what we know, then write up a brief summary of what we did (usually 2 questions with 150 word responses). That doesn’t sound too hard.

It is every week in GS120 and every other week in REL121. That is every single week that I have to find 1-2 people to share with or teach. That is hard. I am running out friends. I’m texting long-time friends hoping to get something out of them. I am truly grateful that my beautiful neighbor has humored me on more than one occasion.

This week’s Teach a Friend

This week we only have a Teach A Friend assignment in GS120. It should not be too difficult to select something to share. I am thinking that my sweet neighbor is going to fall victim to my assignment again this week if she is home. She is a teacher so I should be able to get a good amount of insight back out of her in any conversation I should have, regardless of the topic I choose this week.

The overall themes for this week are: SQ3R Study Skill and the Principle of Work. Nothing too difficult. Since she’s a teacher, I am hoping that she will have some insight for me on this study skill. I really do not understand the point. Seems like a lot of extra work to me. That is my personal opinion and I hold the right to change that opinion at any time.

To be honest with you, I am not 100% certain how this is any improvement over the Cornell Note Taking System we learned about earlier in the semester. I have to confess that while I am not a hugely dedicated and overly zealous fan of Cornell Notes, I can see how they could be helpful in a lot of different applications.

I will reserve my opinions until I study up on the SQ3R study skill method.

Confession: Discussion assignments annoy me

Each week we have 1-2 discussion posts to come up with. Both REL121 and GS120 have this assignment. The only difference is that REL121 only has this assignment every other week. Unfortunately, this week is a week with both classes requiring the assignment.

I have really tried to stay positive about these weekly/bi-weekly assignments, but I am truly struggling to keep my chin up and my shoulder to the wheel. My biggest complaints about these assignments are:

  • GS120 gives us 4 topic questions to pick 1 as a guide for writing our initial discussion post. REL121 tells you to pick a principle and do certain things with it.
  • Both classes require you to make an initial post (due by Tuesday night) and then respond to either 2 or 3 of your classmates’ posts (due between Thursday and Saturday night).
  • Students of all ages, walks of life, and learning environments are inherently lazy and huge procrastinators.
  • Very little effort and forethought appears to be put into these assignments.

It is not even the discussion part that is the problem. There is no real guideline on how much we have to say, etc. I have the whole writing thing down. I do not have a problem including references and citing them. Yet, it still bothers me each week.

I really just want a topic

Normally, I would be all over the “freedom” method of posting, however, a lack of topic is not really what it seems. Yes, we have no set topic to pick from, but we should be picking something from the week’s reading assignments. This week, for example, is all scriptural passages between Enos and Mosiah 3.

We are supposed to pick something that stands out to us in our readings, highlight the principle with a reference from the weekly reading or videos, and respond to it. I really struggle with this every single time I sit down to do my REL121 discussion post. Every. Single. Time.

I often feel like I am have mounted my Book of Mormon on the wall and have started tossing darts at it hoping something will stick. I get that horrible and unsettled feeling in my gut until that initial post is 100% completed and posted in the discussion forum.

Then I wait, and wait, and wait

I am a busy person. I might not sound like I am all that busy when you think about the fact that I am at home most of the time. Here is the deal: I am self-employed. I am at home because I work from home. Most days, I really am working – a lot.

I am grateful to have the flexibility that I need with Pathway and the “due midweek” and “due end of week” assignment due dates. It breaks it down so I am making progress each week throughout the week and not leaving things for completion at the last minute. Well, except my Share it!/Teach A Friend assignments.

It is stated that the initial discussion post should be made by Tuesday night. Yet, most weeks, Wednesday night rolls around and there is my post along with 1-2 other posts. Often the professor will make a post as well to help get things moving. It rarely works.

That leaves me in quite the quandary if I have 3 more posts to make between Thursday and Saturday night. Not wanting to wait until the last minute – it allows zero time for responses or building up a good discussion – it leaves me responding to the other “get it done” students in the class and the professor.

I want to be here!

Unfortunately, the frustration does not stop with the untimely posting habits of my fellow online classmates. I truly want to be there. I truly want to be working on this stuff. I truly want to give this chance at finishing something – my degree, finally – everything it deserves. I do not care if this is your first try or your third try at completing some schooling, effort is required.

Some posts have potential. Some are well thought out or structured. Others are 3 sentences max and have zero to encourage me to want to respond. It drives me crazy! Do not just come on the discussion forum and scream “fire” and then leave. Have an opinion and actually support it.

Put a little bit of effort into the assignment! Please!

There is a famine like response to your posts by many students. “I like that” does nothing to open up a discussion. I found myself last week responding back to them “What did you like and why?” It is pretty pathetic. If you want quality responses you have to give quality work to begin with. Conversing in this method takes practice. It does, however, require a certain level of effort on everyone’s part.

You want me to do what?

The REL121 Project Plan is not too bad, honestly. There were several bits of work to complete before you can actually fill out the “plan template” but the assignment due this week is only a “plan” of a larger project. That is manageable. However, part of the assignment in a couple of weeks is reporting on actions you took over the next two weeks to complete the overall project assignment. If you wait until the last minute, you lose out on valuable tracking and working time. Oh and they do take off if you don’t actually work on these things for the two weeks. So either you have to be fabulous at embellishing without reaching the point of lying or you lose points.

This week we are going through the “Attributes of Christ” and picking one to work on, then reporting our experiences after we are done.

The assignment this week that caught me off guard was the Application Activity for GS121. The assignment on the surface isn’t very difficult and there is a lot of flexibility in the way that the assignment can be completed. However, it caught me by surprise!

Options for submission:

  • write it out as an essay
  • present it as a slide show
  • present it as a video.

I am certainly not going to be shy and say that I can write 3 pages without even blinking. I can create a slide show as specified in the directions for that method. I can even create a video.

The struggle for me is the actual topic of the assignment. This week, the topic is:

“… Choose a time in your life when you reaped the benefits of hard work. Gather your thoughts regarding the circumstances, the work you completed, and the blessings you experienced so that you can share your own story of hard work.”

GS120 Lesson 10 Application Activity

Suddenly it hit me…a stupor of thought. How the heck am I supposed to respond to that? How am I going to do this assignment?

When did I do something hard?

Why was I struggling so hard with this assignment when we have not even gotten started yet? I am at a complete and utter loss as to what I should do for this assignment. Complete loss. Confusion is prominent. Motivation has run away scared.

Surely, I have done something “hard” in my lifetime, but what?

I simply do not know what I have personally done where I reaped the benefits of hard work or the blessings that were received as a result of this work.

Just how hard does this “work” have to be?

The assignment topic is vague. I am certain they left it like this so as to not stifle the range of “hard work” completed by the students based on their own life situations and circumstances…but…here I sit, unable to even articulate a single wit about what I have done that is hard.

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