Category Archives: teaching

2011 Project365 (day280)

7th October 2011

I had to eat my words today. Last week in my photo of my washing on the line I suggested that that would be the last time I could do that for several months. However, the washing has been out again today, and this is what was above it! Sadly the temperature didn’t match the brilliance of the sky, so much of it still isn’t dry and is now hanging up indoors, but is so much fresher for its hanging up outside today.

I’m easily pleased.

In other news, tomorrow I have my first OU tutorial of the academic year, and I have done much of the work for it today (should finish this evening) which means I won’t have to get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow. I am feeling mildly grumpy that I am doing all this work when only one student has said they are coming, but such is life, hopefully I have enough planned that the time will fly.

In other other news, our house move is well and truly on, and we are still hopeful that we will be moving at the beginning of next month.

2011 Project365 (days265-268)

Pictures from the last few days – we are hoping for an adventure today (we have a little local bank holiday today so aren’t at work) so another photo to follow later.

25th September:

25th September 2011

Current favourite listening. We saw the gig at Celtic Connections earlier this year, the highlight of the festival.

24th September:

24th September 2011

I was down south for the weekend at a briefing for my new Open Uni course. As usual it was very good and I am currently feeling very enthusiastic about it! (let’s see how long that lasts!). It was also nice to get the chance to stay with the parentals for a couple of days.

23rd September:

23rd September 2011

Course materials for the new OU course. Here’s my Project365 confession: although I had thought “If I can’t think of anything else I’ll take a picture of the books”, I totally forgot on the day, so this was taken on the 24th. The very first day this year I forgot to take a picture!

22nd September:

22nd September 2011

Lights over Buchanan Street.

2011 Project365 (days193-194)

13th July:

13th July 2011

This evening after work we went to a preview screening of this amazing documentary. It’s not a great photo, but it’s an amazing film – please please if you get the chance to see it, do. Though it is liable to make you very very angry. Not just about the vile Trump, though he is more than bad enough – I am horrified by the actions of the police and particularly by the lack of action on the part of the planning authorities in Aberdeenshire. There’s more information about the film here and more information about the Tripping Up Trump campaign here. After the film they had a Q&A session with the director, Anthony Baxter, plus a representative from the NUJ in Scotland and Glagsow University geomorphologist (and expert on coastal erosion) Dr Jim Hansom, and closed with our hero Alastair MacIntosh reading from his poem O Donald Trump, Woe Donald Trump. It’s long (he didn’t read it all, but did read a good chunk of it), but well well worth the read. And, in case you didn’t notice earlier, I really really really really recommend the film. It gives a voice to the locals threatened by Trump and his cronies, and moved me to tears.

12th July:

12th July 2011

Having said at the end of May that I wouldn’t be marking any essays till October, the other week my manager at the OU phoned to ask if I could take on some marking for a group whose tutor was off sick. No rest for the wicked. I just finished one lot, I have one more set of essays to mark which I will do by the weekend. Then that will be it till October (haven’t we heard that somewhere before?).

2011 Project365 (day144)

24th May 2011

Tonight I finished my essay marking, this is my last essay to mark until October. I just have to do a revision tutorial on Saturday, and a bit of exam support as required (mainly cheerleading and reassurance at this point) and that is me done till October. Although I do really love my OU work, I am looking forward to the break (not sure my bank account is though, but let’s not think about that!).


I’ve started to think about my thesis corrections (just as well, as I’ve only got a fortnight to go to hand them in now!) and mostly think they’ll be fine. However, a couple of niggles occurred once I (eventually) received the confirmation from the graduate office of what needed to be done when. Firstly the administrator said he’d attached the viva form when he hadn’t (luckily the chair of my viva had already sent me a copy in the post), and infinitely more irritatingly, the email was headed “Viva result C”, even though I got a B. I emailed him back pointing this out, and luckily so has the chair of the viva, even though he is currently abroad. It’s only a small thing, and relatively unimportant as it’s easily done if you’re dealing with lots of these things, but when it’s my pride and joy he’s talking about and downgrading I reserve the right to harumph a bit!

I’ve contacted my supervisors to ask about them sending me pdf files of a couple of articles the examiners thought it would be useful for me to incorporate. Hopefully they will be able to, as I can’t get to the library till next weekend and I don’t have remote access to the ejournals in the library collection – I think I will be having a big blitz on it this coming weekend, but would like to have made a start on the reading before then. The plan is that I will get my outstanding essays marked by mid-week, the car to the garage on Friday then work on the thesis from home on Friday and the library Saturday and Sunday, then the following week mark a few essays in the evenings and then on the Friday go to get the revised copies printed and bound and handed in, then home to finish the essays. That’s the plan, hope I stick to it! The revised thesis has to be received in the graduate office by 18th April, but as I am working that day it makes sense to get it done the Friday before when I am off work. Then on the Saturday there is a shipmeet, I have a telephone tutorial to prepare for the following Monday, and then with any luck it will all be over for a while. I have one more lot of essays from each of the two courses I teach due in at the start of May, and tutorials for both to deliver at the end of May, and then with any luck I will get a proper rest!

Procrastinatory update

A quick update (for those that are interested): I had a very strange sort of thesis-related panic attack on Thursday (in the local library, I got myself into such a tizzy about it I felt myself starting to get the shakes and wanting to curl up in a little ball, so I took myself back home for a cup of tea before I actually let any of it out verbally!), then spent most of Friday in bed with a migraine, then went to uni yesterday to sit in the library without the distractions of the internet or the fridge contents and got TONS done in just a few hours. The long and the short of it is that I now have an extra chapter (made from dividing chapter 1 into two, not that I wrote an entire chapter from scratch), and my 3 empirical chapters have been cut and pasted to within an inch of their lives, but now make a lot more sense. The final empirical chapter is several thousand words too long, so I need to chop out some repetition from previous chapters and move a few bits into previous chapters, but other than that there’s just occasional odd sections here and there that need adding throughout and I’m almost there! So that’s today’s job, along with finishing the introduction and marking an OU essay and devising an exercise on referencing that I’ve been promising my OU students for ages. Better get on with it then.

Today I finally (after nearly 2 weeks) actually got the rejection letter from the interview. There’s a saying up here which more than one person has said to me over the last few weeks (including another today), “what’s for you won’t go by you”, which is really starting to grow on me. Of course it’s wishy-washy handwavy nonsense, but it’s a nice sentiment and is reassuring, to me anyway.

In other news, there isn’t much in the way of other news. I had my first OU tutorial today, good students, it went well. I’m not going to apply for the OU job I talked about in my last post, as one in Scotland has turned up unexpectedly instead so that’s one of tomorrow’s tasks, to apply for that instead. It actually suits me much better than the north of England one (as well as the one I’m doing already), so if I can get that I’ll be really happy. HD has had a horrific cold, and hasn’t moaned at all (if it had been me I would have been milking it for all it was worth, as he well knows!). But that’s about it. Maybe next week will be more exciting.

Well it went …

To the question “How did it go?” about yesterday’s interview, I think “well it went …” is probably the best answer. It went OK, I didn’t feel like I did badly, am pretty sure I didn’t do amazingly, there was a larger pool of shortlisted candidates than I was expecting so the chances of there being none who were more experienced than me are pretty non-existent, I learnt plenty about what interviews for this sort of job are like … and I feel fine about it.

Thing is, now I’ve been there I’m not sure it’s what I want after all. It would be a long way to commute, and I’m not sure I’d want it enough to uproot for it. I’ll hear by the end of the week and will be very surprised if they offer me it. If they do I will have a dilemma. There’s lots about the job that would be ideal, and it would be a fantastic career move. But but but but.

On the train on the way home I had pretty much persuaded myself of the advantages of staying where I was and convincing myself it wasn’t that bad after all. Then I woke up this morning from a dream about one of my client families, which really isn’t the greatest start to the day. I wouldn’t miss that, that’s for sure.

I mentioned on facebook yesterday that I told HD I wanted us to be Tom and Barbara from The Good Life. Actually I think I’m at least half serious (even though I’d probably be more likely to channel Margot). I can dream …

In the meantime, my new OU students start this week, they seem very keen – long may this continue! I have nearly twice as many students as last year, so will really be earning my keep this time!

More on smiling

I have spent this morning battling with (and eventually starting to win) the Open University’s new online forum. They have changed the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment – at least I think that’s what the E stands for) from last year to one which I’ve used a bit but not loads and now as a tutor I am required to be much more au fait with it all. The course proper starts in just over a week.

After agonising and whingeing on the forums to the module leaders (it’s been driving me nuts, even though I did have some familiarity with it before, and a couple of days ago I was ready to tear my hair out with it), I thought I’d lighten things up this morning and choose a profile picture. This wasn’t an option on the previous forum, thankfully, but the new ones do have the option and we’re told students like to have a picture of the people they’re dealing with – which is fair enough I think! Unfortunately as I’m the photography nut here I’m usually the one behind the camera so I actually don’t have very many recent pictures of me (the self-consciousness about smiling, mentioned in the post below, doesn’t help either!). I thought about some of the pictures from Auntie Doris’s and the Mister’s wedding, but most of the ones of me involve me pulling a silly face (because of said self-consciousness), so instead I have gone for a picture I took of me on Shetland last year. I’m pulling a face on that one too, but that was due to trying to withstand a gale rather than being silly, so I just look a bit fierce – I hope I don’t scare the students before they even start! I really must try and relax and get a half-decent photo of me (and also stop being so bloody vain, as if anyone is even looking anyway!).

Just saying …

There’s been a lot of guff written about the policy in higher education of widening participation. However, as an associate lecturer with a university that as a non-traditional non-campus university has particularly embraced the concept of widening participation and which attracts a large number of students who would fall into the widening participation agenda, I have to say that I continue to be amazed and humbled by the efforts that my students – many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, or who have not been in education for many years for various reasons – put into their studies despite facing many barriers still. They really are quite inspirational.

I did my final tutorial for this academic year today. We had a small number of students, but they worked *so* hard, they were really brilliant. With students like this I don’t mind giving up my Saturday, despite the good weather. What a bunch of stars.