the grid

the grid

Saturday 30 May 2020

Summer Session Week 4

Hello everyone!
So we’re going to try to get all the new posts up late Friday pm (or Saturday am in European time zones) so that it works for everyone – if you like checking in over the weekend they should be there and if you prefer to wait you can check in later. Thanks for all the great comments this past week, I really enjoyed reading them and seeing the follow-up comments.

I had a conversation with a close colleague and a university recruiting person about a university recruiting event this week, and one of the things we had to do for it was articulate a few messages about a program we developed and run together. We had to come up with the usual recruitment ideas of what’s different about our program, what we think students get out of it, the sort of thing that gets worked into standard recruiting-type messages.  The person we were working with from recruitment said something along the lines of she really enjoyed working with us because she could see how proud we were of the program and of the students in it.

That made me think about how we very rarely do that kind of thinking about our research work in a genuine and personal way… Yes, we all have to articulate “impact” and “relevance” and whatever other buzzwordy kinds of aspects of our work when we apply for grants and promotions and get reviewed, but those things to me are more about external judgement and “selling” ones work to a critical audience. How often do we stop and think of what we’re truly proud of on a personal level in our research work? For me I can say “very rarely” and I bet it is similar for many of us…

So this week spend a bit of time thinking about your research/academic super power. Think of the things you do really well and the aspects of your work you are most proud of, especially the personal aspects that don’t get put on a grant application or REF or whatever external judgey thing you last had to fill out… It might be something about the actual work, it might be something about how you approach your work, it might be something about how you work with others. If it feels odd to think about “you” this way then reframe it to think of the things your co-authors or co-workers would miss about you and your work if you were not around… As always, share if you feel like it, and more importantly, give yourself a big congratulations for whatever thing you come up with!
Have a great week!

Sunday 24 May 2020

Summer Session Week 3

We are split on the Friday/Sunday thing, so here I am on a Sunday... As I'm trying to move towards not working on weekends, I will also try to move to Friday, and just accept a short week.

In the past few weeks we've imagined our magical potions, and thought through how we will tame the monster, with even a special release of the Magical Monster Fence (MMF).  But like most adventure stories, we all feel alone in these struggles.   Who are the companions - real and/or imagined - who will help you on your way, whether they help maintain the fence, share ideas for online teaching, or just share their struggles.   For me, the saving grace of this time has been the sense of companionship, of people reaching out and staying in touch. 

In addition to the various monsters, Daisy suggested a couple of really useful looking books, and I'm highlighting them here in case anyone missed them and -- like me -- needs to read them: Small Teaching Online by James Lang  and Teaching Online by Claire Howell Major, available free online.  I also was delighted to find another reader of Angela Thirkell! 

So -- the usual: reflection (if you want) on this week's topic, last week's goals and goals for the week ahead.

Last week's goals:
1) Try Again: Finish all accounting submissions for term
2) Open neglected paper and start over with the figures
3) Help student with defense presentation, yay!!
4) Write late report for internal grant
5) Practice keeping teaching stuff in its scheduled place
6) This week’s fun thing: outdoor trip outside of neighbourhood, we’re allowed to go to trails or local beaches under some conditions now

Dame Eleanor Hull
2 hours academic work per day.
Order fall books; other admin tasks; take notes on an ILL book; 15 min/day dead language.
Life stuff: bills, med forms, lists, packing.

Elizabeth Ann Mitchell
Finish R&R for team paper.
Finish review of journal article.
Schedule time for help posting the presentations.
Schedule time for bibliography, footnotes and glossary.
Be kind, reach out.

1. Read 2 Nunnery articles
2. Finish training for first-year advising and submit my availability online. (Did I tell you that I agreed to do first-year advising again? I get paid, some, but it's SO NOT WORTH IT, and I'm filled with chagrin.)
3. Bucket o' bishop
4. Read two chapters of Big Honkin Book
5. Write one paragraph about why my new project matters
6. Do one of my Good Things every day

1 write and submit book review
2 submit 2 essay peer reviews
3 meet daily writing goals for Tiny Project
4 catch up on writing class and mooc (relevant to my secondary if somewhat obscure research trajectory)

1) self care whilst
2) mopping up from last week's workshop, planning the outputs, and attending a meeting of the Learned Society
3) sorting out plans for the launch of the community effort (next Wednesday)
4) completing all the marking of second and third year work which has been submitted by now (I think that's just 5 project plans and 10 extended essays...).
5) Make More Lists

1. Number crunch for section of Ch 7 and write 1,000 words
2. Meet with three research students via ZOOM about summer research, meet with postdoc
3. Exercise x 3
4. Aunt's taxes
5. Look for Tahitian teacher- 

1. Finish chapter, start next chapter
2. Get book orders in
3. Get back to walking, other exercise
4. Read for fun
5. Go to bed at a regular time

Friday 22 May 2020

Quick poll! When to post?

Quick poll for everyone:
(I would put a real poll in but I cannot be arsed to read the directions and make one or find my logins for various polling software, so answer in comment please)
When do you prefer to see new posts?

1) Some time late Friday
2) Some time on Sunday

Sunday 17 May 2020

Summer Session Week 2

What a wonderful collection of magical assistants we saw last week! It cheered me up considerably just thinking about using the lovely potions and elixirs and devices we all imagined! Clearly the placebo effect works even for imaginary medicine, the thought of the Polyanna Elixir made me smile so mission accomplished.

It was a week that definitely needed cheering up, as many of us mentioned we are officially staring at a fully online Fall semester, a terrifying prospect in many ways. Even though I had already decided to make my giant courses into online versions regardless of the official plan it was still a shock – seeing it in black and white definitely squashed the tiny bit of hope for a different outcome. But that said, it was absolutely the right decision to make and I’m grateful my university made it now instead of stringing us along until August as I expected them to do.

So, now we turn to coping… Our summers already look very different from the ones we imagined in January, and now there is this giant additional task in front of us. I’m imagining it as a large mythical beast of some kind, stomping closer and closer… I would love to know, what are you thinking about ways to keep the beast from wrecking an entire summer? How will we keep chipping away at the large tasks of converting courses etc. while still making time for the important things we love? How will the poor little research tasks (imagining a fairly fragile fairy here) survive the presence of the monster, who is right now a bigger and meaner version of the regular term-time ones we're pretty good at defeating?

What concrete steps can we take to tame the monster and make it possible to live with it?

Monday 11 May 2020

Summer Session, Week 1

(Apologies for late posting - I try not to be online over the weekend, and I forget...)

So we're at the start of a summer session that will last into August, so we have about 3 months.  We all did some dreaming last week, and it was good to see some old friends appear. 

So having pondered, this week we will set goals for the session, as well as for the next week. 

I've realized that one of the challenges now is that we really don't know -- when there will be enough tests, PPE, or a vaccine.  We don't know what our campuses will do in the fall.  Almost all of these things are not just out of our control, but out of the control of the higher ups who make the decisions.  That we're all struggling with fuzzy guidance is real.  So for discussion, what's the magical thing you want to help you through this time of uncertainty?   Many of us have on occasion availed ourselves of Dame Eleanor's Mervaylous Anti-Bugge Power-Writer Spray.   But my guess is that while the need for the Anti-Bugge spray is ongoing, we need a different magic.  What's the magic you need?

Sunday 3 May 2020

Summer session Week Zero…

This session of TLQ (hosted by Daisy and Susan) will run for most of the summer, I’m thinking 15 or 16 weeks to get us to early/mid-August. This is going to be the Week Zero post, with no particular goals posted quite yet. I would like to leave the official goal-setting post until next week because we’ve all had a rough month or two or fifty (April was really, really long in my neck of the woods…). This week will be introductions and if you feel like it, some thinking out loud about goals, because we are facing a fairly uncertain summer, and I think we can use a bit of non-pressured time to think about goals. So, let’s think about what we really want to do, what we are capable of doing with current constraints (mental, physical, organizational etc.), and what we need to do in order to make things work for us right now.

The text below owes a debt to those who have been good enough to host here previously...
The format will be the same as ever. We will set goals (next week) for the whole session and then for each week. It's really easy to get carried away setting goals so I encourage you all to be optimistically realistic without creating a new source of pressure to perform! Goals can be in any aspect of life although the key focus is often writing tasks that are personally (and professionally) important but that never quite tip over into important AND urgent. Urgent things sometimes find their way in here too, that is completely ok too. Each week there will be a discussion topic, suggestions for those are very welcome. We’ll remind everyone of their big session goals about midway through the session, I for one always find those quite a surprise when they pop up…
Anyone new or old is welcome to join. And finally, don't worry if you miss a few check-ins. Life happens. Oh, do we know that… And as always, this is a supportive, generous space with no intimidation factor so enjoy it!

So for this week:
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What's your main focus at the moment? And where are you based? You are welcome to be vague and mysterious in the interest of maintaining anonymity while still introducing yourself to the group.
2. Think and speculate and dream (out loud if you want!) about goals for this session, but sit with them for a week or so and we’ll officially post them next week. Feel free to throw out a whole bunch now and pick from those next week. Maybe warm up with a few small things you want to do this week to get ready for bigger goals, or things you want to clear out of the way to make room for those.
3. For discussion, I’d love to hear what things have been good for you over the last 2 months of chaos? Is there anything positive you want to take from all the changes and carry forward even when/if things go back to “normal” (which really is just a dryer setting most of the time…)? What has worked well for you to keep you going during all the disruptions?

Something JaneB said in the intersession comments struck me – she mentioned that since we always interact here online it is actually a “normal” space, and that’s very true since this space operated exactly as it does in regular times… I think that made me appreciate it all that much more while everything else was changing day by day… So, thanks to everyone!