Sunday, 12 February 2017

A day in the life...

So, I know our blog has been dead for months (years?!), and the temptation is to say: “maybe it’s time to call it a day”. But it’s at least worth having a storage place for our newsletters and a way for people to go back and see some of our history with Wycliffe. Plus, to be honest, it would probably just be a cop out to shut it down! So here I am again, after a long break, writing an update!

There are lots of reasons why posts have become as scarce as an iceberg lettuce in the UK (sorry, a specific culture and time relevant reference - see here), but the two main ones are:
1/ Much of my current role is based on/around communicating with people. So, if I’m honest, the last thing I want to spend time doing is writing something else to communicate with more people! (Gosh, I complained about that in our last blog… this really must be a ‘thing’!)
2/ I often just don’t know WHAT to write about. When we were living overseas, even simple tasks like cutting up a pineapple (yes, honestly, see here) seemed interesting and worth writing about. Now we’re in the UK everything seems, well, grey and ‘normal’.

While there’s not so much I can do about the first point, the second could easily be challenged. And so, I thought I’d try and give a short overview of ‘a day in the life of Matt’. I’ll grant you, it’s not particularly exciting but maybe it will give a little insight into what I actually do!

before 8am: a blur (or a whirlwind, whichever image you prefer) - as any parent of young children will confirm.

8am: Levi and I scoot/cycle to school and I continue on to the office. Truth be told, this if often the highlight of my day. I know it is a real privilege to be able to take my son to school and, when it’s not raining, enjoy time out in the fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, we often end up arguing over which side of the road we should be on, or why his hands are too cold, or why I didn’t do something I should have… but on the whole I love this time with my boy.

9am: arrive at the office and, depending on the time of year and whether or not I’m teaching on a course, I would normally go straight into class (teaching sessions run in the mornings, with students usually having self-study time in the afternoons) or check over my new emails. Working with a global team means I’ll invariably have some emails from the previous day from colleagues who live west of me, and some from earlier that same day from colleagues living east of me! They can be about a whole host of things, but often they are ongoing discussions about collaborative tasks we’re working on. I respond to the easy ones, prioritise tasks in the more challenging ones, and review activities for the day.

mid-morning: classes have a set coffee break time each day, and so staff–whether teaching or not–often join this to catch up and connect on key topics.

rest of morning: if I’m not teaching, I will usually get settled into a task relating to either the LEAD community of practice (coordinating resources for an upcoming event, sharing links and information through online forums, responding to a team or individual who has asked for information) or helping my team in Asia with our internal communications and collaboration (ensuring people know what each other are up to, updating our communications material for other teams, exploring new funding or partnership opportunities). While I prefer working together in person with colleagues, there is something very rewarding about working online with colleagues who are living miles away, developing ideas and learning from each other as we share our different experiences.

lunch: as a colleague who visited recently to work on a project commented, “I didn’t know Brits could be like that!” Let’s just say, our lunchtime conversations are wide-ranging and vocal. A good time to catch up with one another and let off some steam.

early afternoon: living in the UK has many positives, one of which is that when working with a global team I’m often the only one who gets to have team online calls actually during my standard working day. My poor colleagues in Asia have them late at night, while my poor colleagues in the US have them early in the morning, while I get them right after lunch! I do try and put this privilege to good use by taking as much responsibility for calls as possible, leading discussions, taking notes, sharing documents etc. As well as online calls, I often have team meetings in college at this time of day as well, coming after classes but not breaking up the afternoon too much.

mid/late afternoon: this is usually my most productive time of day, where I see some good progress on tasks that need some deeper thought. I plug in my headphones, turn up Spotify, and away I go. A current example would be a brochure I’ve been working on with partners to talk about the connections between mother tongue-based multilingual education and sustainable development goal #4, quality education. This kind of task is right up my street - taking a technical and complex issue and trying to find creative and engaging ways to communicate it to a range of different audiences.

5:30pm: home for family dinner and the ensuing chaos that lasts until the kids are in bed, some time between 7 and 8pm.

evenings: usually my evenings are work free, but just to try to be flexible and accommodating I do have some work calls with colleagues in far-flung time zones late into the night.

And so there you go - a rough day in my life. In many ways it probably looks and sounds much like yours, and I guess it is. Sometimes this makes it difficult to see the difference my work is making to the marginalised people around the world. Thankfully I have great colleagues who affirm my value and appreciate my small efforts, and in the meantime I’ll just keep doing my best in the tasks I’m given. I guess that’s all any of us can (and should) do.

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