Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent


This email is written to put on record my disquiet at the unprofessional and unacceptable manner in which you spoke to me on the telephone yesterday. I do not consider that aggression has any role to play in the workplace, especially in an educational environment. Your call was all the more troubling because it was received within earshot of students and teaching colleagues.

I was given a very difficult brief with this course, delivering it to 56 learners at 40 contact hours a week with only three teachers, including myself. Nevertheless, I can confidently say that it's "mission accomplished". Furthermore, the job has been done using innovative methodology: task based learning and an ad hoc, (free) VLE. I was able to meet the people at Aeronautical University (Keith, Maureen and Ian), before the course began and they told me that they wanted the students to improve their confidence in speaking and listening. That became my objective, and it has been achieved.

Fortunately, I have sufficient skill and experience to enable me to amend a scheme of work as it proceeds, and thereby target the learning outcomes on student needs, as they manifest themselves during a course. That is why a trip to London was written in to the final week of the course, following on from a highly successful (in pedagogic terms) trip to Duxford the week before. I expect the London trip to yield similar results later today, as you will see if you are able to follow the blogs and the wiki, (please note the spelling).

The aggressive nature of your call made it difficult to take in all you said, but I did hear you mention "risk assessment" in connection with the London trip. I was surprised by this because there was no question of risk assessment regarding the Duxford trip, which was of course in the Scheme of Work drawn up before the course started. The London trip was referred to on the wiki last Friday morning, but perhaps you haven't been reading it.

You also, I think, complained that I haven't been in touch with you or "Project Manager". Communication is a two way street, and I haven't heard from anyone at BTM except DoS. Frankly, working up to 18 hours a day delivering a successful and innovative course has left little room for ego soothing emails to management. But I was always prepared to deal with telephone or email inquiries should I have received any.

I was further troubled that you thought it appropriate to telephone a teaching colleague at 8.40pm yesterday. We work very long hours here and are entitled to a couple of hours freedom from work in the evening. Telephoning him like that also placed him in a very unfair position.

Tomorrow, we will be conducting an objective evaluation of the course, (not the somewhat embarrassing "smiley face" form you use at BTM, but a form I have designed with a hopefully more scientific approach), and I feel confident that the results will be overwhelmingly positive. We will also request feedback in the blogs, which you are of course free to read.

Yours sincerely,

Pig Sty Avenue