The reality in academia (for someone at the early stage of their career) is that there is so much more to do than I imagined. The past month has been devoted to teaching, research, meetings, seminars, training, reviewing manuscripts, and marking mid-semester assignments. I am not one of the busiest academics, but this is enough to make me feel ‘it’s a jungle out there’… I had no choice when it came to working in the evenings and weekends as well.
This weekend, for the first time in a month, I’ve cooked meals and baked banana bread (the kitchen smells of vanilla and chocolate), and I made a small purchase – a new Nespresso machine.
Some reflections on teaching
As many teachers share their worries about teaching in online circumstances, I too have been struggling with whether my teaching is meaningful for students. Students might be feeling the same thing and wondering whether they are doing well or not. After a conversation with my advisor, I decided to follow her suggestion and make a recording of a session.
This week, after gaining my students’ consent, I made a video recording of one session in a module I teach. This turned out to be a good opportunity to observe and evaluate my own performance in class. There are some points that I can improve on. It is difficult for me to discover potential difficulties that students might have encountered on their own side, but I hope that we all can find a way to support each other and reach a better solution as our mutual learning develops.
I really like reviewing work as an editor. It is a real privilege to have read a lot of ‘raw’ manuscripts at the submission stage written by authors ranging from experienced to postdoc researchers, as well as other editors’ comments about the manuscripts. I don’t wish to sound conceited, but the process of reading them and writing review comments has developed my research and writing skills. The work allows me to keep up with the latest research trends in the field. As an early career researcher, I really try to take time to write meaningful, encouraging and positive comments, even though the paper is not yet ready to be published.
Other health research with my colleagues has been moving forward too – slowly – but it is nice to see how we all make sure every step we take is clear and shared and directed to our goal. It surprised me to discover that I’m very comfortable researching in a team, and it has given me a real feeling that I am contributing to something.
Sometimes I ask myself if I want to do more research or fully commit to teaching. It’s a tough question, and I don’t know the answer. So far, the research I have done for the past five years has all been health-related, and it has become part of my life. I still check job ads for research positions. Deep down, I might want to do more research. Maybe it’s too early to think about the next step, but I was wondering how many postdocs are proactive in pursuing their career.