Summer. Solstice.

Summer. While acknowledging that everyone at a university continues to work during this season, it is definitely a slower time. A time to take stock and catch our collective breath. Even on a twelve-month administrative calendar, the pace slows. Meetings are bit less frequent. We reflect this shift in various ways. Those who normally wear suits, might embrace a more casual Friday approach to dressing. We get around to taking some of our vacation time.

Field_Hamois_Belgium_Luc_Viatour

This slower pace provides an opportunity to assess and plan and strategize for the coming year. This could be big: drafting a plan for restructuring advising in your department. Or it could be small: creating a new schedule for department meetings that better matches teaching schedules.

Solstice (we just celebrated the summer one) literally means the sun standing still.  What if you stood still for just a few moments? Put aside the grading, the report writing, and the to-do list. Sit still. Reflect on the past year. What were your biggest frustrations? What were your greatest accomplishments? If you could make the coming year different, what would that look like? You don’t have to solve all the problems and have all the answers right now, but start taking notes and thinking about it. I find that if I start writing it down, it imposes some order on the thoughts that swirl through my head. It also initiates a brainstorming process. Something about committing those thoughts to paper (virtual or otherwise) allows me to begin transforming nascent, ill-formed ideas into something more concrete and perhaps even achievable.

Tales Told Out of School is going to take a similar opportunity this summer and address some issues and challenges that plague her—and perhaps you—but that are hard to tackle in the midst of the busyness of the regular academic year.

And the first topic, to be addressed in my next post, will be Building a Better Meeting. Stay tuned.

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