Induction week is often the most chaotic time of the Autumn term because the routine of regular teaching slots hasn’t started yet, and organising students and colleagues who don’t know where they are supposed to be can be fraught with difficulties!
Some academic staff members lie low during induction week, almost living in denial trying to squeeze out the last drops of research or leisure time before term starts in earnest. However if you are a member of the lecturing staff, chances are that you won’t be able to avoid induction week duties for ever. This time is especially busy for programme leaders and heads of department and their deputies as they make sure that everything will run smoothly over the coming year.
At our university staff members also are involved in running induction tours for new students. Some institutions leave this to their more senior students, but yesterday I had the job of showing our new first years where the library is, where their lectures will be held, where they should hand in their coursework etc. It’s difficult to know whether this is beneficial for them because they are so overloaded with information that nothing goes in after a while. But it was nice for me to be able to meet a few new students and offer a friendly face during what can be a very traumatic time.
Other than that, for me this week involves making sure that the part time, temporary teaching staff working on my courses know what they will be doing and when. As we all know ‘adjunct’ staff can feel left out of departmental information and decision making, so those of us who work closely with part time staff should try to make them feel included, welcome and prepared. So, if you’re thinking of trying to avoid induction week at your institution, spare a thought for those students and staff starting somewhere new this week. Being a friendly face for them could just make all the difference.