Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thanks for the Memories....

I'm off to a meeting next week, so today was my last day of class for Computer Science 124 (Algorithms and Data Structures) for the semester.  For two reasons, today feels important. 

First, because I'll be on sabbatical next year, I won't have to teach another lecture for what seems to be something like 18 months.  I haven't had that much time off from teaching since I've started.  I'm looking forward to it, especially as this year the administrative job has slowed research.  I'm hopeful the sabbatical time can be put to use productively on the research side.

Second, more nostalgically, I've taught this class for the last 15 years.  To me that feels like a record of some sort.  When I come back from sabbatical, the plan is that someone else will be teaching the course, and I'll have to find something new and entertaining (for me, and maybe for the students) to teach.  I admit, my preference would be to teach this class pretty much forever.  After 15 years, I finally think I'm starting to understand all the material and how it fits together.  I'll miss the class.  While my head knows that it is probably good for both me and the class to separate, my heart hurts a little, giving it up and moving on.     

Given the excitement of once again being done with teaching for the academic year, I'm sure I'll get by.  (As I explain to the students, the only ones happier than they are that classes are ending are the faculty...)  Things change -- obviously, for me, sometimes very slowly -- and I'm optimistic that whatever I decide to teach next, I can make it a course I'll enjoy teaching for say the next 15 years.


6 comments:

rweba said...

I was just thinking that yesterday (when I taught my last class for this semester): as a student it never occurred to me that professors looked forward to the end of classes just as much or even more than the students. I guess we're good at not letting it show ;-)

Kevin said...

Wow this feels like the end of a dynasty. Congratulations on the 15 years!

Anonymous said...

Your 124 will be sorely missed, even if by young students who can't know what they're missing.

Harry Lewis said...

Congratulations, Michael, and enjoy your leave (once your grades are in :)

This course started out as Applied Math 119 in the spring of 1982. Before that there was a graduate level course called Applied Math 219, which was mostly data structures. Needless to say, your syllabus doesn't look much like mine of 31 years ago! Two years later we renumbered all the CS courses according to the scheme we still use, where the penultimate digit represents the area of CS.

Bill Gasarch (now at UMd) was my head TF that first year. The other TFs were two undergrads, Marshall Brinn (now chief engineer of the GENI project at BBN) and Mike Massimilla, who now seems to be at a company called DealerTrack that builds web software for the retail auto industry.

Anonymous said...

I took your class last year, and honestly, it was one the best classes I've ever had at Harvard.

Best of luck with your sabbatical!

Rishav said...

Was definitely one of the hardest but most fulfilling courses I've taken in my two years of college. And glad to have taken it while you were still teaching. :)

Wish you luck with your research ahead.