28 August 2019

Workload: looking up

Since seeing the list of how many modules everyone in the school leads I was a bit disheartened. It looked so skewed! And I know all modules are different, but still. It didn't look right. And  it's not even just that I have many modules. I also do Peer Guides, Welcome Week and Open Days. But what to do? David, the Head of School and thus my line manager, had said during my Personal Development Review that he couldn't reduce my workload. So why would he think otherwise only a few months later? But feeling all demotivated and not telling your line manager has never done anyone any good as far as I know, so after lots of um-ing and ah-ing I sent him an email. Could we talk? And he suggested we talk on Friday morning.

I made sure I had a plan to propose. And a justification. I had not only checked how many modules other people had, but also in what semester they had them. And I saw that only my colleague Dei and I have more modules in the second semester. I have two in the first semester and four in the second. And according to my list, four of my colleagues (on identical contacts) only had half a module in the second semester. Half a module as in, they didn't have any specific second semester modules, but they did have one that ran over both. And the second semester if also the one in which I have to organise Open Days. And then there's the Peer guides which is a year-round thing. So I am responsible for so many things! Four modules, of which one is the dissertation module, which involves the entire 3rd year and about which the students stress an awful lot. And everybody teaches on it so you have to herd cats to make sure everyone does their bit. And THEN the Open Days. I remember last academic year we had the stressful dissertation talks spread out over a Thursday and a Friday, and then an Open Day on that very Saturday. Really no rest for the wicked!

In addition; our annual South Wales fieldwork has now moved to September instead of June. It now is the week before welcome Week. And I am responsible for Welcome Week! And that is mainly run by the Peer Guides, but these tend to only come back from where their parents live in that week. So by the time the Peer Guides are out there and might need me I'm not there. A particularly bad combination!

So I would suggest David that he takes these three tasks off me. And I would see what he would say! I would ideally also lose the dissertation module but I was not sure if that would fly.

That morning I came into his office. And I said I had done some more thinking about my workload. And I mentioned the list of responsibilities. And after uttering surprise; it apparently hadn't been sent to him, he warned me against drawing conclusions from it; you don't know how big a module is, and you don't know what else people do. Maybe they are designing a sort of bridge year for people who want to study Ocean Sciences but they don't have the qualifications? Maybe they are in charge of student placements? And so on! And I agreed with that, but still, I felt overloaded. And he listened.

When I pointed out I have my heaviest teaching load in the semester I also do Open Days he was quick to point out I could swap with my colleague Mattias who does them in the first semester. But I continued and said the Open Days, Peer Guides and Welcome Week go together very well and it would be best to give that to someone else. Someone who does not go on that particular fieldtrip. And he listened. And said it was a fair request and he would work with that. And he would ponder my teaching load. Maybe that could be reduced too! But not by taking the dissertation module off me. That was not going to happen.

He will need some time to ponder who to give these tasks to. Whoever it will be, they won't be happy! But I think I convinced him I am overloaded and that just isn't good for anyone. If I have too much on the quality will drop! And as soon as the students give us bad reviews it affects recruitment. And recruitment is the backbone of our finances. So I think he'll sort it! I hope to hear soon! And when I walked away I already felt better. Good!

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