This is the day after our Learning and Teaching Review here in the School of Modern Languages. Why am I mentioning this in a blog post about thinking space? Because, as could be expected, the report recommended creating a common room for our UG students but did not mention anything about creating both the time and the space for colleagues to meet and have a casual chat over a nice cuppa. To be perfectly honest, we do have a staff room but it is rather on the small side and, as most of my colleagues would say “Who’s got time for a lunch break these days?” anyway…

The idea to write a blog about thinking space(s) started nearly two months ago (!) when the team of Newcastle Educators met to discuss plans for this academic year. After toing and froing trying to find a time that suited everyone, we met up in the Ridley Atrium in the School of Medicine. If you are from HaSS or SAgE and you’ve never ventured that side of campus, you should really go and have a look for yourselves. What an amazing space for staff to meet! It is inviting, spacious, calm and for staff and research students ONLY. The Ridley Atrium, I noted, was the perfect place for us to meet to discuss our teaching. Not that I am against shared spaces for staff and students… However, it is nice, for a change, to be able to have a chat about the ups and downs of your teaching without fearing you some of your students might hear you. This led us to discuss the general lack of meeting spaces for staff apart from Schools’ staff rooms. Would it not be nice to have accessible and inviting staff meeting spaces that would attract people from all Faculties? This would certainly encourage ad-hoc cross-fertilisation in learning and teaching! I doubt this would be enough, though. There is ever-increasing on our time and even lunch meetings are becoming tricky to plan. I wonder if we should not also recognise the need for thinking space in our busy lives…

More than that, maybe we should all recognise that sometimes “wasting” time allows you to “gain” some time! This sounds rather counter-intuitive but let me explain… Going for a cuppa with a few colleagues may very well lead to a relaxed conversation which could help you find creative solutions to challenges you are facing! Similarly, you may find it difficult to complete your application to the Higher Education Academy or to attend an event on learning and teaching – you may even come to see them at a waste of time when you have some many other urgent things to do. Oh, how I can relate to these feelings. Maybe, though, you should see these two as important thinking time on your practice that could very well make you gain time in the future. So please, from time to time, get out of the rat race and carve some thinking space for yourself – a great first step would be to come and join us to our 2nd event in the Teaching Excellence Series (Educators’ Perspectives) on Thursday 15th December (Lunch will be provided, so please register for a session on http://forms.ncl.ac.uk/view.php?id=11149). I look forward to seeing you there!

Written by JC Penet

Advertisements