Lecturer in English and Education
Team Leader for Foundation Degree Programmes
How much research time is built into my job:
Technically none. I teach HE in an FE setting. I’ve slowly moved from ‘A’ level to predominantly HE as the degree programmes have grown. This year, I’ve been lucky enough to be successful in a bid to carry out some research for the AoC, so finally I actually have some remission.
If the next REF were held tomorrow, I would:
Not be returned. I’m in an FE setting so there is no REF!
I work on:
Gender and Education - specifically how the construction of masculinities impacts on how boys perceive literacy. I have worked on other projects such as the impact of teacher talk around the texts they deliver and the development of curricula which allow ESOL parents to learn English with their children. My background is sociolinguistics and English language teaching but slowly over time I appear to have moved more to the field of Education rather than linguistics. This is largely because of opportunities that have presented themselves rather than by design. The project that I am about to embark on is exploring the delivery of HE in an FE setting.
Tools I use to plan my research:
I have a Hobonichi Planner (which is Japanese) and after doing the rounds of every type of planner imaginable, have settled on this. It’s pretty pricey because it’s from Japan but well worth it, just because the very thin but high quality paper means it can pack hundreds of pages in. It’s A5 (which is the size I prefer) and contains yearly, monthly, weekly and daily spreads all in one book.
In the yearly spread, I keep track of my different modules and marking schedules. This is essential because my courses are delivered in partnership with two different universities so I have to keep track of all of their deadlines for various boards, meetings and reports as well as my own college. The admin of working for three different institutions can be overwhelming.
The monthly pages offer a good overview so I can set goals of what I want to achieve. This has been really important as all of my doctoral research was fitted around my job and family. I did initially let a year slip by of doing very little before I realized I had to get tough on myself and set really firm goals and deadlines. One of the positive outcomes of my planning is that I did get to a point where I could clearly see that I actually didn’t have enough time to do everything unless I started to sleep less. I used to be a Head of Department and it helped me to make the decision that I either wanted to do that or I wanted to complete my Doctorate and press ahead with research.
The weekly pages I use for notes that I need to go back to. I jot down anything I want to read or explore so I can return to it at a later date. This is sometimes just ideas or cutting and pasting something I’ve ripped from somewhere. I tend to photograph book titles etc. and stick it in.
My days are very busy and I need an entire page for appointments, lists and notes. I use a bullet journal system but I allocate tasks to particular days. At peak marking times, I use a pomodoro system but instead of using the circles to represent time, I use them to track papers. It keeps me on target and it can be quite satisfying – a bit like counting down the contractions whilst you’re in labour!
Finally, my Hobonichi also tracks personal events. The one thing I’ve learned from being a Head of Department, is that it’s essential to keep hold of some kind of life-work balance. At some point, I did start pasting in photos and mementoes of events and time with my kids and I have to say that when I flick through it feels like I have a life outside of work too. It sort of makes my planning system like a living thing that I interact with and again, I’m more likely to go back through the pages so I tend not to miss anything.
I have a second notebook – a Leuchtturm dot grid. I take all my notes here and I have a colour coded key. I colour in a square at the page edge so that I can easily find notes relating to different things.
My approach to planning/planning philosophy is:
I need to have a planner that I want to ‘interact’ with. For me that means colouring, pasting, drawing, painting, writing. For me, it’s an integral part of my planning process. It keeps me focused.
My routine is:
Just changing as I have started working two evenings this year. I am taking the time back where I can but I need to be firmer about this so I’m not just working 8am-9pm. My remission is due to start so I need a new schedule and plan for research time.
I think I am organized/disorganized/other (please specify):
I am organized but I’m flexible too. I don’t sweat if things don’t go according to plan.
I would like to improve my….
Long term goal setting. I tend to think of today, this week, this month. I need to really map out the next year, next five years…
My best piece of planning advice is:
Don’t try to do too much. If it seems like you can’t fit everything in, consider the possibility that you might genuinely have too much to do. If you are continually stressed, looking for time that you never seem to have, it’s time to reassess your situation rather than your planner.