Friday, July 11, 2014

Day three: Do as I say, not as I do

In my work as a lecturer, I am always telling students things that I think will improve their working lives: work out the routine that suits you, book practice rooms in advance, work in the library, try to read as much as possible, practice/compose every day, redraft redraft redraft, write ahead of schedule, and try to write a little bit every day.

If only I took my own advice.

For me, this is one of the challenges of life as a lecturer. You have the detachment to see what you, and what your students, need to do to improve your/their academic performance, but you're so busy with everything that you need to fit in, that actually doing it is quite a different matter.

I was exactly the same as an undergraduate, and as a postgraduate. I have always left writing essays, articles, papers until the last minute, and now I leave marking to the last minute as well. I have never 'written a little bit every day' even though I believe 100% in it as a way to improve writing technique. In a way, writing this blog everyday is a way of making sure that I do start following that bit of instruction, even when (like today) I forget and leave it to the last minute before I go to bed.

At the moment (and I think that this has been the case since I started the job), I have worked my own priorities around what I needed to do for the students, and I haven't stopped to reflect (and act upon that reflection) about how to organise myself so that what I do provides a better standard of teaching and support for the students. To adopt such an approach will be healthier for me, and (I believe) make me a better academic - more productive and more flexible.

So why don't I? Why is there this resistance to doing it?

Because it's terrifying.

It's so much easier to know that you can do it, than to jump off the cliff and do it. You might fail. What if this is as good as it gets? Maybe you won't be able to do as good a job if you're not doing it like you've always done it, running around like a headless chicken after deadlines that you've just seen approaching like an oncoming train.

A theme I'll come back to again and again (at least I think I will) throughout this blog is the idea of the integrated academic: where administration, teaching, and research are all part of what you do, and support and reinforce each other rather than competing. It's where I want to be, and it's where I believe I can get to. I'm tired of saying 'do as I say, not as I do'. If my advice is good enough for my students, it's good enough for me.

I'll get back to study skills tomorrow (unless I get sidetracked again). It's time to get a good night's sleep.

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