Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 5: Looking ahead

Today, I've been thinking about proposals for conferences and working out how they might fit into my teaching and researching schedule for the next year. I want to talk more about conferences another day, but for the time being I'd like to go on the record as saying that they are a Good Thing.

Conferences get you out of where you are now and into the company of people who are thinking about the same subject areas that you are. Different people (normally). You may have wonderful supportive colleagues, but it does you good to see different people and talk about different things. I often think about how little time there is to reflect on what I teach, and on how I teach, let alone on what I research and how I research, and conferences give you the opportunity, divorced from the usual distractions of office banter and student cries for help, to look at what you're doing and think outside the box.

Right now, I've got a few examples of opportunities for reflection that are related if not similar. At the moment, the windows of our office are being replaced, so for at least some of next week, I won't be allowed in my office and I have cleared my desk (literally) in preparation for this. I would usually be working from home for most of the week during the summer anyway, but I had planned to be in on Monday and Friday. If the office is accessible on Monday, I'm planning to file away a lot of student work so that I have some spare shelf space. I also want to clear my desk. Again, office space is something I want to talk about, particularly the perils of sharing a communal office, but for today, I just want to say that space is valuable, and I have allowed myself to get too cluttered. It's time to change that.

I also have been asked to take all my holiday before September. This is a bit of a new experience for me, as, previously in the summer, I tend to do a little bit less work and don't officially take my holiday (so that I can come in as and when I'm required). This year I have taken as much holiday as I think I can take without causing problems for meetings and marking. I still have nearly two weeks left over. I think I'm going to spend my time writing music and writing a book proposal, and I'm rationing my email checking. Strictly speaking, that's still work, not holiday at all, but it's a holiday from the requirements and necessities of work and focusing on my own work priorities which take second place during term time.

I've been looking over a list of proposed topics for these blogs as well (in no particular order):
  1. Powerpoint slides (good/bad practice)
  2. The National Student Survey (NSS)
  3. Hearts & Minds
  4. University politics
  5. Research (what is)
  6. Disposable practice
  7. Methodology
  8. Essay structure
  9. Discipline/self-discipline
  10. Programmes
  11. University as a Business
  12. Teaching synthesis & induction
  13. How to recognise good teaching in HE
  14. Holidays
  15. Email
  16. Office space
  17. Conferences
  18. Strikes/unions
If anyone has other suggestions, please let me know. I'm not going to methodically work through this, and the subject of my posts will normally depend upon what I've been talking about or thinking about or doing during the day.

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