Winter Term started exactly one week ago, so we are now officially in the swing of things. I’m teaching 5 days a week this term, which is great in terms of spreading out the workload but also means I don’t really have a “down” day where I can work from home and crank things out that require deep thinking and concentration. It’s also the first time in a while that I’m teaching a full 6-credit course — my course releases for my leadership role and my service on our tenure and promotion committee meant that I had a lighter teaching schedule in Spring 2022 and Fall 2022 (Comps and the Science Fellows Colloquium, both terms). It took me a few days to get back into the rhythm of a MWF class!
Winter is always a busy term for me, and this year is no exception. So, what am I spending my time on this term?
My big research deadline / push actually happens early in the term, so I get it out of the way right away — I have a conference paper deadline this weekend. The working draft is currently a bit rougher than I’d like, but definitely in a state that can be tweaked by the deadline. I also fully expect that the paper will be rejected, since I’m aiming high, so that takes a bit of the pressure off to get it “perfect”. The paper is on an experiment we did in Spring 2019, so I’m relieved to finally be getting it out for review.
For the rest of the term, my goal is to take a look at all the other work-in-progress and determine what to write up next. I didn’t realize while in the thick of campus leadership just how much mental energy that role took up, and how much that mental energy overlapped with the mental energy required to do deep thinking and writing about my scholarship. I’m looking forward to having some of that mental space back.
I’m teaching Software Design this term, a course I regularly teach. A few years back we revamped the course, and I’ve pretty much followed the same order of topics since then. I’ve had a bunch of conversations with one of my junior colleagues about the course, in particular about where our students struggle, and based on those conversations and their experiment in moving topics around, I’m playing around with a different order of topics. I think this reordering will give our students more solid footing in some of the backend development, and better prepare them to work with web frameworks. I worry a bit that they might miss some of the messaging around user-centered design, since I’m not leading with that anymore, so we’ll see what happens.
Winter is by far my busiest term as Summer Science Fellows director. I need to select a new cohort and place them into research labs on campus, and help our second year cohort find research positions, too. There are a lot of moving pieces to keep track of. I developed a pretty decent workflow using Trello last year, which I plan on using again. In addition, I’ll be searching for my own replacement as director, since I’m stepping down at the end of this year.
I test for my third degree black belt in taekwondo in mid-March (eek!). I am confident that I will pass, but I’d like to try for that elusive perfect score on the form portion of my test. (I’m pretty close, I think!) My taekwondo studio puts on a mini-show twice a year with the black belts, and last year I took over organizing and directing that. Our next show is in April, so I will be spending time this month putting together routines, and then after that running once a week practices up until the show.
Looking at this list, there’s certainly a lot in play, although thankfully I don’t think it rises to the level of requiring a self-care paper chain. And there are things not on this list — the end of Comps at the end of the term, my work on the tenure and promotion committee, stuff at home — that are also ongoing. But I’m mindful about my limits and am working hard to ensure that I keep everything within comfortable boundaries so that I don’t completely exhaust myself.
Currently reading: Unraveling Faculty Burnout: Pathways to Reckoning and Renewal, by Rebecca Pope-Ruark.