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Day in the Life – Dr. Shyane Siriwardena

Posted by. Dr. Shyane Siriwardena
Posted on 21 January 2020

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​​In September 2019, I began working for Leeds Trinity University as a Lecturer in Philosophy. As a lecturer, my days vary quite a bit from day to day; that said, the average week involves a combination of preparing and giving lectures, meeting with students, attending departmental meetings, and managing module-related administration.

In addition to these regular activities, I also participate in a number of different staff networks, including the LGBT+ Staff Network and the BAME Staff Network. These groups have provided a source of friendship, support, and community that have really helped to make feel welcome here at LTU.

Finally, as a new staff member, there were many provisions for introducing me to systems and procedures here. This included a number of training sessions and web tutorials. But more than this, it was my colleagues here at LTU who were invaluable to my learning; you never have to go far to find someone willing to answer your questions. Indeed, many of my colleagues go out of their way to ask how I'm doing and offer assistance in any way they can. It's a lovely family of staff and students here at LTU and I'm delighted to be a part of it.

Here's an example of a day in the life of a junior lecturer here at Leeds Trinity:

8.30amArrive at the office
My start time varies depending on the day, but when I have a lecture first thing in the morning, I like to arrive well ahead of time, make a coffee, collect my notes, and refresh my memory on what I've prepared. The buffer time for travel is also valuable. The train in to Horsforth station and shuttle to campus make getting here very easy! But Yorkshire weather sometimes likes to throw a spanner in the works…

9.00am – Lecture
Lectures run for two hours each, and the earliest lecture in the day starts at 9.00am. The class sizes here are fantastically small! It's such a delight to teach a group of students in an environment where you can get to know each one of them. This semester I taught a group of third-years (Level 6s) at 9.00am on Tuesdays. Each class revolved around a set reading, which we discussed as a group. With a group so small, class can be very interactive; and while—as anyone who works in HE knows—students can take a little while to warm up at 9.00am, they always join in in earnest.

11.00amImpromptu meetings
Often, students will grab me after lecture with questions about upcoming assignments or recently posted marks. Unless I have another meeting, I take the time to answer questions then, often in the corridors on the way back to my office.

12.00pm – Lunch
When our schedules allow it, my colleagues in TRS and I like to take lunch together, either in the canteen or in the staff room. On particularly busy days, I might lunch 'al desko' to squeeze in a reading for a lecture, but there's almost always time for a proper break.

1.00pmTeaching prep/admin
When I have a block of time to work in my office, this will often be occupied with some combination of lecture preparation, module administration, and answering emails. I'm fortunate to have an office of my own, so I usually put some music on and get on with the most pressing of that day's paperwork. My colleagues work very near my office as well, so it's very easy for me to drop in if ever I have a question about anything. For me, lecture preparation involves a great deal of reading and note-taking; I might also prepare a slideshow or handout to accompany my lecture. Module administration involves maintaining the course website, ensuring that all relevant materials are posted in good time. Answering emails is as you'd expect, but the email culture here is worth mentioning. In my experience, it's rare to get an email from another member of staff far outside of work hours, and even when I have received such an email, there's been no expectation that I reply until I'm back on the clock. This has allowed me to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

2.00pm – Office hours
Twice a week, I run drop-in sessions for students. For a two-hour block, students know that they can drop by without appointment with any questions or concerns they may have. This time is not just available to the students enrolled on my modules, but also to those for whom I am Personal Tutor. As a lecturer, I am assigned a small group of students from our program as my tutees; I am responsible for overseeing their studies as well as for facilitating pastoral care. Students can come to me with any issues their facing, academic or otherwise. If I am qualified to do so, I provide advice myself (e.g. with time-management, or academic skills), and if I am not, then I refer the student to the relevant support service available from the university. Contact time with students is my favourite part of the job, so I look forward to office hours every week.

4.00pm – Teaching prep/admin
I usually round out the day with any leftover work that needs doing before I leave. I also do this during office hours when there isn't a student visiting.

5.00pm – Leave the office
As with my start time, my finish time varies from day to day as well. It largely depends on when I've started, how many lectures I've had to prepare for the next day, and when my last lecture finishes. After work, I head to the campus gym. It's so convenient having such a great gym facility right here at work; it makes it very easy to squeeze in a workout before, after, or even during the workday. And the generous staff discount on membership is a definite bonus.