Using my time wisely

This coordinator faced the newness of technical issues initially and associates lack of administration support with a lack of value by her institution. Dealing with staff hiring, paperwork and other admin tasks removes her from focussing on the students and other important areas that her education and experience have prepared her for. More...

I have five years experience as a unit coordinator and I think it gets busier. With experience it becomes easier because you know what to do and how to do it but every year there are challenges. This year, for example, the electronic communications system was changed so I needed to learn the new system. I coordinate large classes of 200 plus students each semester so a constant challenge for me is working out the budget for year-long units when I know the student numbers will drop from the beginning to the end of the year. Sometimes it appears that my workload is over the limit at the beginning of the year and later in the year I find my workload is under expectations. As leader of the unit I received no background information about how I was to calculate the budget and student numbers so it took me a long time to work it out myself. I think it is an ineffective use of my time because there are better things I could do to use my expertise than ‘number crunching’. Even though I receive updates at various census dates it seems unnecessarily time consuming and inefficient to me.

When I began here I did not ask many questions because I wanted everyone to think I was okay and had everything under control but it was an emotionally challenging time for me. From the beginning I had an issue with duties including data entry of marks and typing the changes to my unit guides. When I asked our administrative support person to enter data I found too many errors so I found it more efficient to enter the data myself from the start. A similar situation occurs with making changes to my unit guide. I only have a limited amount of time so plan accordingly. If there is a three week delay between submitting my changes to the unit guide and their return from our administration support I find it better to complete the work myself.

I also find employing and managing casual staff challenging as it takes time to teach them how I like things done. In some external units sessional staff simply mark a few assignments for their salary so some have questioned the work I expect them to do as tutors in my workshops. For example, I expect my internal tutors to respond to their student queries by phone, email and online. I also expect them to engage with their students and to discuss key issues with them. I tell them from the beginning about the fantastic student reviews received for the unit in the past and how important it is for us all to aim high. I tell them I respect their professionalism and enjoy collaborative, sharing, professional relationships. I think tutors see that I strive to do things better, that I love teaching and that I am happy in my work.

Despite loving my work, I miss opportunities for professional sharing of research. I would like to know what other academics are researching but I often avoid our weekly research seminars because they last too long and I must prioritise my time. I feel valued by the students so that is what keeps me going but I feel undervalued by my institution. All I remember from my last professional development review was being asked about my publication record rather than developing as a professional or my unit coordination.

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