Connected Conversations | Sally Morris
Sally Morris, associate lecturer in speech pathology has been busy preparing the curriculum for the new degree launching in 2021, and providing guest lectures via Zoom. Having never worked from home before it has been a steep learning curve to set boundaries between home and work, and maintain a connection with a virtual audience. Read about Sally’s experience including her tips on separating work from home, in our latest Connected Conversations.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Sally and I am an associate lecturer in speech pathology here at the Uni. I am part of the team creating the new allied health degrees in the School of Allied Health Science and Practice. It is such an exciting, fast paced project to be a part of. Currently, my job is quite eclectic; writing accreditation evidence, reviewing and developing curriculum, meeting different people about infrastructure and timetabling requirements, figuring out what equipment we will need, as well as adding some guest lecturing and research in the mix. There is never a dull moment! Next year, I am looking forward to doing more teaching and research. How did I get here? Well, I studied music at the University many moons ago, doing classical performance and education, studying classical flute under the incredible Linda Pirie. Initially, I trained as a musician and educator, passionately following my dream to foster a love of music across all ages; helping children and adults learn skills to express themselves through a universal language. I have always enjoyed helping people and teaching, and was interested in psychology, how people learn, why people struggle to learn and connect with others, and how music could play a therapeutic role in people’s lives. Through this, I ended up in speech pathology, which has taken me on a journey to different rural and metropolitan health networks and roles; from palliative care to rehab, to working with the little ones in the hospital and community. I have met many wonderful people, made some great friends, and listened to many individual’s stories of hardship, success, strength, courage and perseverance. I was excited to come across to an academic role as I could combine many of my interests in one position; teaching, clinical and research. I hit the jackpot really! I am currently living with my parents and brothers south of the city while looking for a little place of my own. I feel fortunate to live close to the ocean. I enjoy long wintery walks along the sand and cliffs with friends, although in recent months they have been solo adventures. When I’m not working, I often can be found with mates at the boxing gym, on a walk or run, curled up with a book, trying new recipes in the kitchen or at the piano. I’ve been part of an incredible fitness community at The Boxing Room Brighton for the best part of a decade. It’s a really great place to hang out. Doing the gym at home over the social isolation period was an interesting experience, and it was fun to see everyone being creative to imitate equipment at home.
The Return to Campus Roadmap is now in place. What are you most looking forward to about being back on campus?
Our program does not commence teaching until next year. For the time being my team will continue to work from home, which surprisingly, is hard! I miss being able to separate work from home, corridor catchups, and trying to find milk for my cuppa somewhere in the building.
What aspects of teaching online do you enjoy the most?
I have done guest lecturing and a lot of conferences and presentations online this year. What I miss is the interaction with the audience. In person, I can read the crowd and adjust my presentation or change my communication style to meet the needs of the audience. Online however, I have been challenged to guess the audience response to my delivery, usually based on seeing my face on the screen! I have had to think creatively and infer how to enthuse an anonymous audience. I’ve found it’s often the most novel, random and quirky idea that gets an audience to participate in the discussion virtually. I think because it is not expected, and it’s a little bit fun and unusual. In a time of repetitive routine, I think people find that refreshing. It has been quite an odd experience. The best part about presenting online is doing it from my lounge room. The perks of online delivery are that I simply log on and log off. No commute. I can go for a walk and can still have dinner ready by 6 pm. That’s really convenient for me!
How do you set boundaries when working at home between your work life and your home life?
Ah, well…This has been a big adjustment. I have never worked from home before. I have always strived to keep clear boundaries between work and home life. In clinical practice, you must, otherwise you will burn out. You learn to switch off and compartmentalise all the emotions and stresses of the workday so you can relax. Bringing work home–that’s been hard. A few strategies that have helped me have been; not having my work gear (laptop, papers, books) in a general living space. I have them in a separate room, which I close the door to at the end of the day! I try to ‘travel’ to and from work each day. My head is so used to the commute to prep for the day and then wind down, I usually do a half hour walk before I start my day and at the end of my day, which imitates the length of my usual walk to and from work. I walk to and from meetings as well. I was struggling to sit at my desk all day doing back to back meetings on Zoom. If I was in the office, I would be walking between rooms for meetings, so I have started walking around the house or the yard for a few minutes to have a bit of a movement break in the day.
All things considered; what good things have you discovered or learned during this time?
There’s a lot that can be made in a slow cooker! I have had fun playing around with different recipes. People are incredibly adaptable and innovative when options are limited. I have a new appreciation for watching TV with friends, in the same house, on the same couch.
Name three things you won’t miss about this current moment in time.
Forced social isolation–I like to be a recluse on my own terms.
Having snacks always at hand. I need enforced snack moderation through physical distance!
And the three things you won’t forget…
Toilet paper hoarding. I feel the hoarding of coffee and chocolate is more essential!
Working from home for the first time.
The sudden feeling of fear and uncertainty in the world.