Things I learned in the last year


Here are some things I learned in the last year. They are all unordered.

Models and parenting and teaching

A collabofriend shared “the 5 S’s” for soothing babies with me before our son was born, and this was super helpful to me. But, in the last year, our son became a toddler, and I didn’t know what to do, and I struggled. I tried to find resources for how to parent (and discipline, something I haven’t been very good at), and found that a simple idea from the authors of No Drama Discipline clicked with me. That simple idea was “connect and redirect.” I thought of these two strategies (“5 S’s” and “connect and redirect”) as simple models for parenting. They’re both super simplified but helpful.

Related, when I taught a science teaching methods class, I organized some of the class around the Ambitious Science Teaching model. I found this to to be helpful. My takeaway: Models that are good (even if they’re not great) can be helpful for parenting and teaching.

Solo parent

I can’t imagine what it’s like to solo parent for longer than short stretches of time. But, for short periods, solo parenting has been valuable and rewarding to me. This may be especially important for folks who have partners or other folks in their lives (such as grandparents) involved with parenting.

Go for it

Early in the spring, I was working on a book project with friends and colleagues. That turned into a book proposal that we decided to submit - not on a whim, but certainly not with all of the confidence (or experience!) in the world. That turned into a book contract for a project I’m excited about and proud of. We go’ed for it!

Relatedly, for three National Science Foundation grant solicitations, I had conversations with colleagues about whether or not to submit. We proceeded with all three, and to my (and our) delight, they were awarded (within two days! after being notified about them possibly being awarded within roughly three weeks).

At least regarding my contributions to these, I feel very lucky and surprised. It was a crazy and exciting professional year, one I’m not taking for granted and certainly will not expect to be replicated.

Know when to stop

I stopped something I’ve done for 13 years, soccer refereeing. This was a big decision for me (in the context of playing soccer every fall and spring since I was five years old). I miss it, but I think I stopped at the right time.

Find your outdoors places

I realized I’m still missing the rail-trail to the west of St. John’s in Lansing; the river trail in Lansing; even the corner I turned onto to go home between Kalamazoo and Allen street. These were the outdoors places I loved, and I’m just starting to find them in Knoxville. But they’re beginning to be a loop in Ijams; the West and Middle Prong and Abrams Fall trails in the Smokies; and cycling downtown with our son.

Moving is hard

It required some distance from the actual move (May of last year) to realize this - moving is really hard! That’s all I learned (as I’m still missing Lansing/Michigan).

First impressions may be wrong

This is a small thing, but when we first met one of the folks at our son’s daycare, we were really nervous, because we didn’t like how curt they were! This caretaker has turned out to be one of the best people in the life of our son (and is someone who gives us a ton of relief for this reason). So, I learned that first impressions may, in fact, be wrong.