Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 23 - Predictable incident of the dog in the night-time

Following on from yesterday's post, I wanted to focus a bit on what my workload actually entails in real terms.
But I ran out of time to actually prepare this properly.

But as I started to type this, fireworks went off outside and woke the dogs up, and one of them started whining because she prefers to sleep on my bed rather than her own.
Why mention this at all?

I suppose it's a more general reflection rather than a specifically higher-education related one, but we find ourselves continually at the mercy of other people's timetables and schedules. These other people may not be able to access our schedules, or may not care about our schedules. This will never change.

You will be called into a meeting next week, only to have it cancelled the day before.
Important matters will be discussed without an agenda being issued to give you a heads up.
Your carefully managed schedule with adequate time for every task will be disrupted because someone else forgot to plan anything a day in advance, let alone as far ahead as you do.

A student will get seriously ill, or will suffer a bereavement that means you want to give them an extension that will mess up your plans (or perhaps even your holiday).
A student will not take advantage of any of the support opportunities provided during the term, but call on you at the last minute.
A student will just drop off the map, stop communicating, and basically freak out.

And, yes, a firework will wake your dog up when you really want to sleep the whole night without them pushing you to the side of the bed.

What can we do about this?
Really, nothing.
It will always happen.

So what?
I suppose it's important to factor in workload contingencies.
Some breathing space in the week which can be rescheduled.
I've never actually tried this, but I think it's worth thinking about.

In response to the other observation, about dealing with last minute cancellations,my strategy is to get into the position where you are the one arranging the meeting, assisting the drawing up of the agenda, and working out who is going to be there. Does it work? Let's see.

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