Summer time and the living is . . .?

It feels like a while since I last wrote a blog post. I have had a few ideas floating in and out of my head. They haven’t hung around long enough to make me want to put “fingers to the keyboard”. Well, it is summer and although I haven’t had a “proper” holiday I have been taking it a bit easier this month and making the most of the sunshine. I’ve been in my own little bubble. My work life balance over July has been pretty healthy. I’ve completed some really interesting work, and have “good projects” on the go around online learning and teaching. In some ways life, although not always easy, is better than it has been. But, and there’s always a but. The pandemic is still hanging over us.

I have noticed more people almost crying out for help as they share why they are thinking of leaving social networks. I can see why – even pre pandemic Twitter was toxic. The “improvements” to the user experience, promoted tweets, ads. I find them all incredibly irritating. Just let me scroll and find the stuff I am interested in! I know I miss a lot of stuff, but I have always believed that if “it”‘ is important/relevant enough I will find out. I am lucky tho in that I have an established network and can usually find something/someone to interest/distract me. Sometimes though I am slightly disappointed if something that I think might be relevant is lost in the endless digital scroll. On the other hand I got a lot of advice about the best creams for midgie bites recently – toothpaste who knew? (thanks @davecormier).

I still feel that I do get more than enough positive exchanges/useful “stuff” on twitter to stay. I do worry though that some of the tweets from people leaving were actually more a cry for help after an incredibly stressful year for everyone. People want and need contact, support to give them a sense of self worth. I know I do.

Time for another but . . . but as we start to make plans for the new academic year I do worry that we are not going to give ourselves and our students enough time to readjust to yet another change. More importantly I worry that not enough time is going to be given to let people reflect on on the past year, and how they can use that experience moving forward.

Going back on campus is going to be exciting, stressful, tiring and unsettling. Ensuring that there is time to readjust to being with (lots) of people is going to be really important. Making time to talk about :what everyone has gone through, what they are still going through, the sense of loss that might hit people, is going to be vital. The focus on care which the pandemic highlighted will be even more important in the new academic year.

However, I fear that the desire to “get back to normal” will force people to do things too quickly. Like last year, there is still the likely hood of spikes and outbreaks of COVID when students come back on campus. Then there is “normal” start of term infections such as colds to deal with too. There might not be a lockdown in September but I think that many staff and students might end up not being able to into work/uni as they will be either be ill or stressed out or a combination of both.

Everyone adapted really quickly last year to the infamous “online pivot”. How we manage the next pivot back to the new normal is going to be even more important.

I’ll leave you with another twitter exchange and my thanks to @sumingkhoo whose kindness, wisdom and humour has been more important to me over the last year than she probably realises.