Re-writing, Re-writing, Re-writing
That's what I've done thus far this week - rewriting. I've not done anything de novo , I've just rehashed stuff. I've decided I'm now fatigued enough to warrant a week or two off but if I'm going to do it, I've got to do it soon, so I'm trying to get all my teaching stuff that needs doing by mid-Sept ready now so that it's all done and dusted and out of the way. And so the annual cycle of re-examining last year's lectures, looking at the student feedback, looking at what does/doesn't work in the eyes of the students and re-writing/re-jigging/cutting/replacing/discarding/starting over - the process that's probably not really appreciated by our audience as of course each year of students has no knowledge of the history of the module or the changes that have been made based on what did or didn't work well last year. Contrary to popular belief, every single bit of feedback we get - good or bad - is listened to, acted upon and things do change every year as a consequence.
This morning, I had the inevitable panic of going through my timetable for this coming year (which has now all been downloaded into my Outlook Calender through a complex process of syncing as a second calender on top of my main one, exporting it and then re-importing it into my main calender as a non-syncing set of static dates/times - it's the only way to get it all into one calender it seems...ahhh technology!) and finding not just one session I couldn't remember booking but a whole bunch of first year practicals I had no idea about...! After a few phone calls I managed to remember that these were part of some teaching I've taken over from a colleague who recently retired and when it came to booking the sessions I said "Oh just give me whatever length sessions G used to have and I'll sort it out later" (which explains why the class was a length I'd never normally go for!) and so now here I am - I know why I've got them scheduled but not a clue what G actually used them for ! Quite a few conversations with colleagues and technicians later and I've now got his notes for the technical staff so I know what they were but now I need to finalise what they are . Taking over content that someone else used to teach is something akin to taking over a leading role in a play - you want to make it your own but you've got a limited range of movement in which you can do it - the blocking and the costumes are still all theirs but you do what you can with re-emphasising the lines and seeing if you can have a different wig - that sort of thing. Ok, we get a lot more freedom than that but it does take a few years to make the role your own - a few cycles of lectures, exams, exam marks, feedback, changes, lectures exams... And similarly, just as the new starring role you've taken over might require some daredevil stunt or fire-eating or nudity, this one involves something I don't like much either. Fungi. I have to teach fungi. I hate fungi. Well, ok, I don't hate fungi, I hate their bizarre taxonomic system and, just like certain bits of mathematics and physics make my brain just go "ARGH" and panic and refuse to play, fungal taxonomy does the same! Thankfully for both myself and my students, I'm covering their physiology which is actually quite enjoyable and a subject I know pretty well but it's just a bit too near to fungal taxonomy for me right now and I'm hoping this isn't like doing a topless scene being the start of the slippery slope towards ending up on Channel 5 late at night in some manner of 'documentary' (ahem!) and that I don't end up doing fungal taxonomy any time soon!
Other than that, most of this week has been spent dealing with our lawyers to finalise the legal agreements on our BioORE project and spending inordinate amounts of time reading through the Brunswick Long Form agreement which is just thrilling . Today at about 1730h, I realised it had been exactly 3 weeks since my surgery to remove my non-functional gallbladder which meant that (a) I had been back at work for 2 whole weeks and (b) I could now lift things again without very high risk of damage/herniation...so I celebrated by moving my desk at work - I've been meaning to - since March - flip it around so that I could enjoy my view of the English Channel without having to stop work and turn left to do so...today I finally go around to it. It's made me a lot more room for various things and I've gained a lot of storage space in the process. Nothing like a change ready for the new academic year!