09 October 2018

Covering for ill colleague

With James having left the School, I am a bit of a scientific orphan. I’m the only one who does what I do! And sometimes that’s an issue. Sometimes you need a hand. I often find that hand in Geography, in the form of my colleague Lynda. She helped me out on the Ice and Oceans field trip. And the Palaeoceanography practical. And more things like that! But quite often, she would be carrying a heavy cold around. She was often on the brink of being ill. Or actually ill. It was clear she had too much on her plate. 

It wasn't all one-way though; I helped her out too, lastly when she was tasked with taking schoolchildren around Cwm Idwal. And I assisted her on a day in the field for her module. 

Then I received an email from the head of teaching in Natural Sciences. Lynda was ill! And would be for a while. Oh dear. I had figured for a while she wasn’t far off giving under the weight of whatever it was that was making her slightly ill so often, and now it had actually happened. Sad! But of course her teaching had to be done. Soon after having been told she couldn’t assist my teaching anymore, I was asked to assist hers. Could I take over eight of her lectures, and a series of student presentations?

I had a look at what she had been lecturing about. The module was about geohazards. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, mudslides, floods, avalanches, whatnot. Some of that I can do! I already lecture about volcanoes. And earthquakes are related. The coastal flooding lecture was already covered by someone else. Four lectures I was OK with; four others were a bit far out of my field. I wasn’t keen on the river flooding one, especially as geography has hydrologists. 

I reported back, and it was decided I would do these first four. When I had a look at the material I saw that her presentations were very long. Too long to fit in a 50 minute slot! But then they turned out to all be two hour lectures. Oh dear. Oh well, I’ll make the best of it. The first one will be trying; it’s quite soon, and I immediately have two hours of my own teaching afterwards, and then a two hour meeting. I’ll be a bit zonked! I’ll make sure I have a flask with me and a tub full of instant coffee. But it’s good we can take the strain off the students; they’ll get their teaching. But we’ll have to make sure we don’t then burn out ourselves! That risk is always there with academic staff…

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