Greetings from the Politics team!
As the final teaching week of this academic year draws to a close, it has certainly been one to remember. Following Laura’s blog about teaching ‘from a distance’ last week, the Politics and IR team have been reflecting on their experiences of working from home. We had such a packed calendar in semester 1 that the abrupt changes took time to get used to. Here we share some images of our improvised work spaces and our thoughts on how life is going. We would love students and graduates to share their own images and comments in our social media channels. We miss you!
Dr Paul Anderson: ‘The last few weeks have been challenging – I miss face-to-face lecturing, my colleagues and my comfortable office chair and desk – but I’ve found it rewarding, too – reconnecting with old friends, daily chats with colleagues & a new found appreciation for realistic expectations. #WFH is not easy (even/especially when you live on your own) but so far so good’
Professor David Bates: ‘It has been a challenging time (not least for those living with us!). As I write this my son’s face time notification is going off. The social media invasion is constant! I miss the buzz of the Priory Cottages – including the laughter!
I miss face- to-face teaching with students. This said, the on-line sessions held with students I have found particularly rewarding. We have had some great discussions. Also, I ran an on-line session the other day, and part way through a student’s mum came in to his bedroom to clean up. This made me laugh. But I am also aware that many students are alone in this difficult time, or have very difficult domestic circumstances. I worry about them.’
Dr Susan Kenyon: ‘I’m sharing a photo of my current working space, two kids and I being very productive… My daughter is also responsible for the portrait shot! I think that it would be fair to say that the novelty of lockdown has worn off here. It’s hard work, confusing and overwhelming. I’m finding the Key Stage 2 and 3 curricula very challenging and I’ll be sending Joe Wicks a physio bill as soon as the physiotherapist reopens!
I currently have very wet feet after a bug hunt for KS2 Science in our garden turned into a water fight. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!
Hope you’re all ok, I’m off to chat to one of our students in a moment – I’m looking forward to hearing what she’s been up to.’
Dr Demetris Tillyris: ‘To say that working from home has been easy would be a lie. During these past weeks, we have found ourselves trying to master different ways and methods of delivering teaching and learning – methods which keep reminding us how much we miss our students and the stimulating discussions and debates which are an integral aspect of our our on-site, live sessions. Even though working from home has somewhat exploded the distinction between ‘work’ and ‘life’, it has also provided an opportunity to share an office again with my new “co-worker” – my 3.5-year old daughter, who has been very kind, but not as forgiving as my actual colleagues who I miss.
This week, though challenging still, has been much better than the previous ones; I’m quite confident that I’ve been able to find a routine (finally), now, but I was also quite sad that I’ve had to deliver the last session for Pol.Ideologies in Action, remotely (and without going to the pub, which has become a tradition…) ‘
Dr Laura Cashman: ‘In Ireland they describe the lockdown as a cocoon although I’m not sure yet quite how I will have changed by the time this is over. In the last month I’ve learned many new skills and also, importantly, that I am in the right job as a university lecturer. My efforts as primary school teacher, hairdresser and seamstress haven’t been too shabby but I’d never earn a living.
Having so much time with my family is lovely but days are very long as we try to get work done before the children wake and after they sleep. The extraordinary events of the past month have meant that my lectures had to be hastily revised, and that has also been difficult at times.
I really miss the interactions with students (lecturing to yourself is no fun at all!) and I can’t wait to see them in person again. I never thought any workplace would be noisier than the Priory Cottages, but it turns out my kitchen definitely is!
Dr Nigel Fletcher: ‘The thing I’ve discovered is that recording lectures is much more time-consuming than delivering them in person! You certainly notice the mistakes much more, but at least have the chance to correct them – although being interrupted by the cat walking across the laptop isn’t something that usually happens in class…’
Dr Soeren Keil ‘Working from home has been interesting and challenging. We all had to become experts in online teaching and learnt about programmes like Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom.
However, besides some technical issues at the beginning, I have really enjoyed it. I am lucky enough to have a nice office, my books are at home and we have a garden in which I can sit and read.
I appreciate that I have been lucky and that many neither have a work space, nor a garden, nor proper internet, working conditions, and often face other challenges such as noisy housemates, the stress related to the current situation, small children and also caring for others.
I do miss my colleagues and students, and strongly believe that as much as communication technology can help us cope with the current situation, human interaction, and face to face contact is so much better! I can’t wait to see you all again as soon as it is safe to do so!’
Dr Yang Liu: ‘I definitely miss face-to-face class time with students because I could see their facial impressions and respond them in a much more interesting and interactive way of communication. Facing nobody (basically to the wall) in the study and talking to a desktop computer when recording online lectures feels very strange indeed, because all you could hear is yourself (and sometimes a scream from a five-year old despite the door being shut then you have to delete and do it again…).
The thing I find most rewarding is when I receive students’ emails communicating with me to seek my help and advice. By answering questions and helping students, I feel grateful to be still connected with the world. I have encouraged students to get in touch with me when they need advice or help under current circumstances but meanwhile, I am looking forward to returning to normal so we could all see each other again, hopefully soon.’
Dr Sarah Lieberman: ‘Last year I was lucky enough to have a term of study leave, during which I worked at home, I thought I would find lockdown as easy and productive as that. However, with a husband and two children in quarantine with me, I find that the working day is slightly different… In the past hour I have made lunch for 4, dealt with a smashed toilet bowl, refereed a fight that broke out while painting a Viking ship, hosted an online PhD 6 month review and spent the whole time watching a huge lecture upload to blackboard.
Had I known I would be working from home full time I would have purchased a PC instead of a chromebook, I would have bought a desk and set it up somewhere quiet, and I would have bought shares in zoom.
Suffice to say this is a learning experience. I have had to learn to be flexible in my working patterns, learn to lecture from my living room, while also mastering primary level teaching of maths, literacy, art and science. Some days this goes well, other days it is not so easy. And so I’ve also had to learn to be easier on myself, lower my expectations of myself, and to change my relationship with my coworkers, my students and my family.
Mostly this is about patience. A virtue I have always struggled with…. HAS THAT LECTURE STILL NOT UPLOADED?!?’