Friday, November 02, 2018

Reading Week

60 tests - today's work.
It's Friday of Reading Week - this year it is the 7th week and falls exactly half-way in the semester. Time to catch-up? Take a break? Do research? Plan for the remaining 6 weeks? Try something new? There's lots of things I could do during this time - so what did I use this break in the semester for?

The first thing to note is that our Reading Week always has a Bank Holiday in it - this time it's the October Monday. A four day week - 20% less time than normal. I have spent this week so far doing three things: grading continuous assessments, updating content for one of my modules, and preparing exam papers. These jobs will have had to have been done anyway this week - thank goodness I didn't have any classes to "get in the way". Today I have 60 tests to grade - I won't get through this lot in a day, but I hope to get a huge number done so that I can easily finish next week.

I have 12 hours of class contact time in a week. This leaves 23 hours left out of the theoretical 35 hours a week that I am supposed to work. I have met very few lecturers who work less than 35 hours a week - in this line of work, 40-45+ hours a week during term time is extremely common. I have 140+ students this semester - that's a lot of grading of continuous assessment to do. Classes have to be prepared, and student queries through email/phone/call to office have to be dealt with. Some colleagues use the opportunity to use up annual leave days. A Reading Week is most welcome to clear grading from the first 6 weeks, and to set up the second 6 weeks of the semester nicely.

I often wonder what use students put this Reading Week too. I'm sure there are some who welcome the break from classes - some of my students have 16 hours of classes every second week. I know that many work on projects, revise what has already been covered, and yes - take a break. The concept of taking a break in the middle of a long 12 week semester is a good one in my view - though I think calling it a "Reading Week" is a bit misleading. "Mid-term break" would be more accurate.

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