Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Nurture 14/15

In the nick of time, I've reread last years nurture 13/14 post.  Quite a lot has changed in the past year although I still have the same number of close relatives that I did this time last year.  That might not sound much of an achievement, but sadly, it is.

So, on a cheerier note, what are my five four things from the past year that are achievements/things I'm pleased about.

Looking back.

Train travel.
This has reduced considerably since July when I started a new job based much closer to home.  My commute is now 1/2 hour each way, rather than 2 1/2 hour each way.  I don't miss the travelling, but I am coming to realise that I miss my morning thinking time.  I used to spend an hour thinking and reading on the train to York on work days.  This meant that I could guarantee time for reading policy documents, blogs, research papers etc.  My shorter commute means that I don't have that luxury. Although I have tried to block in time to my work day to do reading, so far it has been squeezed out each week.

Working (more than) full time
Since July I have been working full-time.  It was, very definitely, a shock to the system, and I do miss the flexibility that part-time work gave me.
I particularly miss the time I spent on my freelance work.  The long-term nature of these means that some of my previous projects are still ongoing, and I'm spending all my 'free-time' working (including much of this Christmas holiday).
I am now turning freelance work down (which I do struggle with), and some of the other work is coming to an end, so things should get easier.
On the plus side, I will get my name on two books next year!

I have stepped into a management role with my new job, and it has been a shock.  Before I started, I must confess that I was looking forward to being 'the boss'.  I rapidly learned that actually my delusions of power were just that.  And that there is a lot more managing upwards needed than I realised. I'm getting there, but there were points in the last 6 months when I wondered if I'd done the right thing.
I also attend a lot of meetings.  Setting up Think Physics means that we've had to start building relationships internally at the university as well as externally with schools and other organisations. And that means meetings.  On average, 3 or 4 a day over the last 6 months.  Thankfully, for someone who is an introvert at heart, I can do functional extrovert reasonably well.

Think Physics
Back in April, Northumbria University advertised a series of posts for a new project called 'Think Physics'. It sounded interesting (albeit a little vague) and so I applied for the role of Director (and secondary specialist).  The project brings together lots of my previous experience - working with teachers, working in schools and physics.  It's a fabulous (if huge) project and has the potential to do really good things with schools in the NE .  Possibly the best bit though, is the team I work with. My boss has assembled a fantastic group of lovely people. We are all very different with a huge range of slightly overlapping areas of expertise - but they're all fab.  To be honest, I'm missing seeing them over the holiday it's that much fun working with them.

The project has had a slow start (e.g. 3 months to get a logo), but we're now getting things running and the diary is filling up.  One of the challenges will be to work out how we can make an  impact in the schools.  We want to do more than just 'wow, physics' activities (though we will do those too).  We are building on the IOP work about girls in physics, as well as the ASPIRES project findings about attitudes to 'doing science' in young people.  We know that it's really important to embed careers ideas into the work we are doing, and show that science (especially physics) is a springboard to interesting things.  And we've got just under 3 years to do it!


And a peek into the year ahead...

As with my nurture post last year, looking too closely at the year ahead is scary. My diary is, once again, already filling up.  However, there are a few things I'd like to achieve.

Work-life balance
I need one. Not taking on too much additional freelance work will help. However, controlling the amount of time I spend on electronic devices will also be a plus.  It's too easy to sit down 'just for five minutes' to check twitter/Facebook only to find that 2 hours have gone and it's bedtime.  This means that I get far less reading/crafting done than I would like.  Some discipline will be required in the new year.
I also want to increase the amount of exercise that I do.  Working every evening (when I'm not on a device) means that I'm not do as much as I used to, and my weight and fitness are showing the damage.  

I want to continue to blog and hopefully do some more formal writing too.  Seeing my name in print is just fabulous, and I'd like to do more of that.

Work-work balance
I need to figure out how to spend time well at work so that there is a good balance between the management aspects of my role and the secondary specialist bit.  At the moment it is heavily biased to the former and I'd like it to be a bit more evenly spread.

I've got plans (as part of work) to carry out research into practical work in science (see previous blog post). Whilst the focus has, of necessity, changed slightly I still want to get this done and into print. 

And that's it.  Now to get on and do it.

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