01 March 2022

No more Peer Guiding and Welcome Week

Years ago, I had acquired the task of organising the School’s Welcome Week. It is quite a responsibility! It is the first week in the new town at their new educational institute for lots of students. It is a pivotal week! I still have friends I made in that very week now, almost 30 years later. And in that time, we went to south Wales every year, and we did that in June. Welcome Week is in September.

Then the field trip moved to September as well; the week just before Welcome Week. And that made things very complicated. I would be assigning all the new students to a peer guide on my private laptop on the shaky Wi-Fi of them holiday park we would have booked as accommodation. And I would generally have to leave the fieldwork early to be back in time for the new students. I wasn't happy with this configuration, and I brought that all the attention of my line manager. He agreed that this was not how it should be, and that someone else would have to take over Welcome Week. But he didn't quite have someone lined up for this; he said that when we would be hiring new people this would happen.

He then decided to leave the University and go elsewhere, but he said he would instruct his successor to make this happen. And the successor confirmed he indeed would. This is years ago.

When we were hiring new people, the most likely person to take over from me was, on the day of the job interviews, already quite keen on taking on this task. But the Head of School wouldn't hear of it. He wanted to think long and hard about whether this indeed was the right person. And then he hadn't made a decision yet by the time this new person had already been landed enough work for one person. So it didn't happen.

Then the pandemic hit, and for one year, the field trip was virtual. That meant I didn't get in the way of welcome week, and I continued with the job for another year. But then the year after that, not only was the field trip back on, but it was also my responsibility. It was difficult to juggle all that at the same time. The week I really should have been focusing on Welcome Week was the week I was in an estuary. In the end, student surveys indicated that I had done a better job at organising welcome week then at the field trip. I think this is fair! A very important week for 200 students, rather than a moderately important week for 30 students. You can’t do everything well if you do too much. But I still was of the opinion that these two things bit each other, and that the person who organised Welcome Week should not be involved in the field trip.

I brought this up again during my PDR. And my line manager agreed! I did suggest an alternative candidate for the task, and that suggestion was met with enthusiasm. But I didn't hear anything about it after the meeting.

When March loomed I brought it up again. And to my surprise, a day later I received an email to say that my suggestion have been accepted. Great! After Reading Week I should contact my successor and have a proper handover meeting. I have been involved in Welcome Week against my wish for years; I was really glad it would have been the last time! And this coming  year I can just focus on the field trip…

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