12 March 2020

Hectic time of term

In the second term, I am doing the bulk of the teaching in two modules, organising the dissertation module and organising the Open Days. And we have all the modules that require tutorials, and the fieldwork module. So it’s busy! And I try to be prepared beforehand but well, that’s never complete. The one big module is Earth, Climate and Evolution, in which I originally taught six lectures, but then my colleague who taught eight of them retired and I had to take these on too. And taking on lectures from someone else can be a lot of work; some people teach from memory, and only use their slides as a prompt. Such lecture slides can just be a series of seemingly arbitrary pictures! And many of these can also be quite old. So I spent a lot of time on these the summer before I would teach these lectures. But this year I also wanted to blend his an my lectures together a bit more. That takes time! And then add an interactive part.

The other module is a MSc module. These are much work anyway! And I felt like it needed tweaking when I inherited that. But every year, only so much tweaking gets done, so even after having done it several times I still have a lot to do.

And then there's the tutorial modules (to call them that); the ones in which you have a smallish number of students and give them more personalised guidance. That can be a lot of work! And in the fist semester, only of of these modules runs, but in the second semester, it's all three. And then, of course, I need to sort the dissertation module, and organise the Open Days. And I've been struggling with that workload for years! Last year I addressed it with my line manager. That did help. A bit. I am now not responsible for the Earth, Climate and Evolution module anymore. But these fourteen lectures are still there. So as a supermarket chain says: every little helps, but it's not a big change. Hopefully handing over the climate modules will! I'm sure that means more work next year (changing my part of the module to whatever the new format will be) but after that it should get better. And I haven't yet managed to lose my Peer Guiding and Welcome Week tasks! We have the new lecturer who would be the logical person to hand that to, and he's happy to take over, but that needs to be OK'd by the Head of School and he's busy with the strike and the virus threat and whatnot. So no news there yet!

I am struggling now to keep up! I try to be the duck that looks calm. But I can feel the effects. I hope I manage, as I normally manage, to get through this second semester without falling ill! If I reach the end of my lectures without falling over I think I'll have made it. I will then have to dive head-first into the dissertation module, the Open Days, several field days and a pile of marking, but I think I'll be OK. And well, maybe we won't even have Open Days anymore! Will the University risk stuffing a big lab full of some 150 people for an Open Day in a few weeks' time? We'll have to wait and see. And after the last of the planned Open Days it will be Easter! And that is when you know you've practically made it!

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