As I look around our offices, it’s all rather odd: not only are there no students (who’ve been sent home early), but there are stacks of packing crates.
We’re being moved out to new offices in January, so in-between Zoom sessions, it’s the now-rather-familiar ritual of winnowing and packing.
As the Departmental Gardener, I also have to think a bit about how Estates will be able to get the plants across campus without too much damage.
You know, the big questions in life.
Moving matters, because it’s an opportunity to consider afresh the things we have and the things we do. I know that we’ve all had plenty of cause to shake up our working practice, but unlike Covid, an office move is something more managed and delineated.
New spaces enable new practices and call into questions Things We Just Do. As a Department that was moved out of its long-term residence about 18 months ago, we’ve had this experience already, which was good in making us look again at how and what we do as a group.
This move now is meant to be more long-term, so maybe we’ll lose all the crates that have sat in the corner all this time, especially if I use this week wisely to throw away a bunch of stuff that apparently I never actually use. Nothing like a move to make you get rid of your comfort blankets.
Of course, moving is also disruptive – which is why we’re doing it when there’s very little else on – but it’s precisely that disruption that brings opportunities.
Now I’m not going to suggest you lobby for a move, but I will ask you to consider how much of what you do is through habit rather than thoughtful choice.
That’s not simply about the stuff on your shelves – although those could do with some pruning, no doubt – but more the structures and content of the practices you undertake. Do all those meetings you go to work as well as they could? Do you have an inclusive and supportive community of colleagues? Does your working week work?
Just as we ask students to be reflective learners, so too must we be reflective instructors and facilitators, not just in the classroom or online, but also in the wider range of our professional activity.
And with that in mind, I’m off to decide what to do with a pile of 30 t-shirts.