With the start of March I’m coming to the last month of my research leave, and it has been a great one. I spent three incredibly productive weeks in Auckland gathering enough data that our research team will likely spend the rest of 2020 trying to analyse and write about it. I’ve had a chance to get back to reviewing papers again, something I gave up when I was elected SIGCSE chair. As hoped, I spend my days thinking and breathing research, which I haven’t done since my last leave in April – June 2008. I need to remember to take a leave more than every 12 years, since it’s been a real boost to my energy and enjoyment.
As suspected, taking a leave in the middle of an academic year turned out to be a stroke of genius. I have spent at least the past three years, if not longer, being incredibly stressed during Winter quarter. Not only do I have the regular teaching load but recruiting kicks into high gear and my external service is at its peak. This year I’ve been completely disengaged from both teaching and recruiting. On top of that my external service is also significantly decreased, which has meant two months of relative calm and peace. At the same time knowing that I’m going back to teaching at the end of March has helped me to maintain a steady pace of work that I struggled with during my last leave.
There are a few small downsides. I won’t know any of the new colleagues who will be joining us next year, which is a bit sad. I didn’t have the experience of students following me from the introductory programming course to the subsequent one, which can be quite enjoyable. And I’ve been a bit solitary, disengaging even from writing in this blog. But I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished, and I’m looking forward to spending one more month with my research before I return to the usual duties.