Random thoughts, week-before-classes-start edition

I attended my first in-person retreat yesterday — our annual Department Retreat. I was surprised by two things in particular:

  1. How much I didn’t know I missed meeting with, and discussing things with, my colleagues in person. While we’ve certainly had our share of deep and important discussions over Zoom and Slack over the past year and a half, there’s just a different level of engagement, particularly around difficult topics, that occurs when you’re all sitting in a circle in the same physical space.
  2. How draining meeting with people in person is, after a year and a half of meeting online. I had a few things I meant to tackle post-retreat, but instead I found myself looking at everyone’s first day of school pictures (school started in my kids’ district yesterday) and tackling my email backlog. I have another retreat today, and will try to remember to give myself some grace if I’m mostly brain-dead and unproductive afterwards.

I have a longer post brewing about my goals for the year, including (especially) my leadership goals. I spent a lot of unproductive time this summer beating myself up for all the things I wanted to do as STEM Director this year that…just didn’t get done. Conveniently forgetting, of course, that perhaps leading and shaping a brand-new collaborative model among independently-operating departments DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC and *waves hand at everything going on in the world* is, perhaps, an accomplishment in its own right. And, after taking a few weeks “off” from STEM Board stuff, I am able to reframe some of the past year as “growing pains” for this new model.


As I alluded to above, the kiddos started school yesterday. 9th grade and 5th grade. One kid was excited / nervous, the other more of the “let’s get this first day over with” mentality. (I’ll leave it as an exercise to the readers who know my kids in real life which kid was which.) By all reports, the first day went well. I’ll admit that I feel less panicked about the school year now that our district requires masks in all the elementary and middle schools. (Do I wish they’d included the high schools? Yes. But this is better than nothing.) Fingers crossed that we get through at least a few months of “normalcy”.


What I’m reading: We Begin at the End, by Chris Whitaker. I got this recommendation from What I’m listening to, which is Episode 251 of the You’ve Got This podcast. I’m still on the fence as to how I feel about this book, because it’s not exactly a light-hearted romp, but it’s so far managed to suck me in.