Don's Diary

February 19, 1999

Monday

A re-accreditation visit from the professional body to validate my course. The kids on holiday from school and Shirley away with her mother. Preparation for the visit from Finland from our Socrates partner plus additional classes to make room for my November teaching contract in Vaasa. Halfway through a short course for students from Nigeria. Phew!

Life's a buzz. Practice run for the presentation to the professional body at 5pm. Home at 7pm to find black smoke pouring out of the kitchen window.

Son James is unconcerned: apparently this is normal practice when preparing burgers.

Tuesday

Final preparations for the visiting panel. Controlled anxiety when name plates do not appear. A lecture from 2-4pm, with the panel due at 3.45pm. Make it to the main entrance before they arrive. Students sympathetic. Members of the panel have a short meeting with senior management, then it is time for our presentation. Stony expressions not altogether encouraging. Home at 7pm. No black smoke.

Wednesday

Main event today. Boys asleep as I leave. Calming cup of tea in my office before events start to accelerate. An early grilling session from the visiting panel that seemed to go quite well, then they are into meetings with students and ploughing through their material. A welcome break at lunch with a chance to talk to panel members but it's a long way from a dinner party atmosphere. More grilling in the afternoon. Key issues now out in the open. Then it is all over. The result is encouraging but we will have to wait until January for an official verdict. A quick visit to the pub with team members. Anxiety levels declining. Home to find the house a mess.

Thursday

No chance to relax today. A raft of lectures and tutorial sessions plus the Finns arriving on Monday. Say thanks to the team for their efforts. Pick up air tickets for Vaasa. Teaching in Finland for a month should be interesting. Pick up some groceries before spending most of evening transporting kids around city.

Friday

Strict instructions to the boys about preparing for Mum's return met by predictable teenage indifference to tidying-up. First email of the day: the Finns have cancelled owing to visa problems. Since when did Finns need a visa to come to Britain? It turns out that one of the team is not a Finn. Make arrangements for a meeting to discuss the aftermath of professional accreditation visit. Colleagues' attention moving on to the next event. Home to see Shirley and the boys. "Had a good trip?" "Good."

"Yes, pretty normal week really."

Nick Hamilton is programme tutor for construction management at the University of Abertay Dundee.

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