May 18, 2021

Sunday, May 16. 3.30 am: A glorious afternoon:

Monday, May 17. 8.00 am: I returned to the review of posts. My aim was get to the conclusion of the first diary by the close of the Tuesday. 9.00 am: Postgraduate matters were first upon the table. This would be a bitty week. The necessary provision of extensions has meant that submissions are arriving periodically, rather than all at once. Consequently, few things can be resolved fully and immediately. This is counter to my instincts and usual mode of operations. (‘Adapt, John!’, the voice chastened.) 11.00 am: I was, now, up-to-date with PhD submission reviews and finalisations, and MA applications. On, then, with an initial review of my third-year Exhibition submissions on PowerPoint. Dr Forster and I would begin double-marking their PowerPoint files tomorrow afternoon. 12.30 pm: A late Art/Sound submission review tutorial. There’d be a few more to come, I anticipated.

1.30 pm: I continued making notes on my initial review of submissions, while dealing with incoming requests from various quarters. The day proceeded in bits and pieces. It can be no other way, presently. But May will soon before over and, with it my responsibilities. 4.15 am: I walked, stopped, observed, photographed, observed, photographed, observed, and then moved on:

6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: I reprised the afternoon’s commitments. I needed to keep ahead of the wave this week.

Tuesday, May 18. 7.30 am: A hitch in the technical assistance that I rendered a student last week needed to be addressed in time for them to complete their Exhibition PowerPoint submission over the next day or so. Then it was back to my review of the dairy posts, until the shutters were raised on the shop front at 9.00 am. Looking back over the pages, I’m struck by the intensity, complexity, and shear busyness of the the years since 2014. It was like riding in a car that could only go at 100 mph. The two diaries have not only been an account of those years but also provided, in their writing, an opportunity to pause and reflect, in situ and in real time, upon the affairs of life. The diary has become my tangible memory too; it has prevented the past from evaporating quite as much as it might otherwise have.

9.00 am: For the next hour, I reviewed my tutee’s submissions for the undergraduate Exhibition 1 and 2 modules 10.15 am: A meeting. 10.45 am: ‘More tea, please!’ I put pay to a further page of posts before returning to submission reviews. 1.30 pm: The plumber arrived to fix a leak under the kitchen sink. All hands on deck! Evacuate the cupboard!:

2.00 pm: Dr Forster and I convened on Teams in order to jointly-assess the undergraduate Exhibition submissions. I’ll miss our interactions after I retire. She has been an exemplary colleague, and a joy to work alongside. (Although I suspect she considers that I work under her. Which is very likely true). Assessing is one of the hardest things, especially when you know what students hope to achieve. Inevitably, some noses will be put out of joint. As tutors, we aren’t there to be liked but, rather, to act professionally by bringing to bear upon their work a nuanced judgement derived from decades of experience in teaching and examination.

7.30 pm: Back to the remainder of the posts for the first diary. A number of people have asked whether I’ll ever extract the ‘principles and observations’ from the two diaries and amalgamate them into a single online document. The answer is always ‘No!’. They are bound to the context, conversations, and conditions of pedagogy that prevailed at the time they were conceived. And there they must remain. By the close of the evening I’d arrived at the end of the first diary.

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