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“Hey 2021, you’re in my seat!”

by | Jan 9, 2022 | RE@L StudentCorner | 0 comments

Ever happen to you? Not many things more embarrassing, are there, than finding yourself sitting in the wrong assigned seat at a large, ticketed venue? Whether it’s a concert or a sporting event, it’s a given. Just minutes after the event begins, the latecomers stroll down the aisle with an usher and a scene ensues.

“Can I see your tickets, please?”

“Sure, but these are our seats. I’m sure of it.”

Distracting, isn’t it? But what’s next defines the moment, a ‘Murphy’s Law’ sort of moment that you know is forthcoming.

“No, you would be in the next section over.”

“Oh. Sorry.” And you move on!

Of course, this is followed by a flurry of activity. Some people grab their belongings and shuffle sideways out of the row, causing everyone in their way to stand until they get to the aisle in search of their seats in the adjacent section.

The new seat holders do the same thing in the opposite order. People in the row stand as they shuffle in and settle in to their seats. There are several moments of commotion and whispering and fumbling before a sense the real purchasers of those seats settle in to the event, which is already started and you wonder what you missed!

Well, that’s how your RE@L Blogmeister, having been in the wrong seat before, sees this transition from 2021 on to 2022.

Of course, there will be our short-lived tradition of bringing in the New Year, but in the end 2022 is simply finding their seats with the same views of the same events of 2021. It’s a proud perennial moment that someone like Yogi Berra would cherish with his familiar quip: “It’s like deja vu all over again!”

No! This is not your typical Happy New Year post wishing well with a toast and confetti and auld lang syne. This 2022 new year is one that tells us all that a new calendar year is upon us. But, the realities of 2021 still remain with us: we all hope for good things in the new year. A new year that is grounded in our capacity NOT to forget 2021. To forget would mean to ignore, and to ignore would require us to re-live 2021 all over again. The stakes are high and there are a multitude of unresolved challenges which cannot be addressed unless we navigate the event even from those same ill-chosen seats as 2021. Have we learned anything from last year that will help us this year? Let’s make it happen!

As caring educators, we have much angst over ongoing challenges like: Masking or not masking. Vaxing or not vaxing. Hybrid schooling or not hybrid schooling. Critical race theory or no critical race theory. Banning books or not banning books. If it’s not just one thing, it’s another!

In the year of 2021, commonly known as the “Year of Resignation”, the education industry is being hit hard by an unprecedented exit of our best teacher talent. Many, like nurses, are worn out. Trauma is a real and existential challenge for teachers and students alike.

It’s like the “perfect storm,” an impending disaster that simply cannot be avoided. So, where is the hope for a better year 2022, you ask? 

It’s there. But it’s not to be found in any one person or one plan or one idea. RE@L believes that we need to practice a familiar systematic approach to the lingering challenges of 2021. They require what attorneys call “due diligence.” They need our attention and our fixes.

We at RE@L have some answers: We are a STEM-based company that believes that ‘STEM creates a unique new cohort of solution-finders for real world problems.’ Much like RE@L’s STEM process, these challenges require continual efforts to identify the problem, understand the problem by researching information, collecting and interpreting data, proposing workable solutions, and communicating results to others. So, together, let’s look 2021 square in the eye and fix it in 2022.

Yes! Patience will be necessary. But, inherent in the STEM process of learning is failure. Students test their hypotheses agains their assumptions. Some work. Some don’t. That’s the same process in the STEM world at large. Very few inventions for the common good were ever developed without failure — sometimes several failures. But it is in these failures where subsequent hope lies.

We now find ourselves in an era where immediate information and disinformation are being spread throughout the world. In a world where individuals pine for immediate convenience, there is far less room for patience, testing, and revising. For far too many STEM providers, immediate, workable, solutions to problems seem to be the new expectation. In truth, there are no such simple solutions.

But as RE@L’s Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, Dale LaFrenz, continually reminds us — even in the face of difficult times for educators, our motto is “Onward and Upward. We at RE@L have time-tested plans, and, yes we are moving forward!”

Yes, 2022 may have simply taken the same seats of 2021. But with our patience and a dogged, caring commitment to a better STEM-like process, we can make progress. Perhaps — after the necessity to re-ground ourselves in the view from our seats of 2021 — we can find a better view from seats that are closer to the action where decision-makers are more likely to see our efforts and hear our pleas for action. There is hope in 2022! And we at RE@L are in the right seats!

From RE@L to you: can I check your ticket please? Join us for an even closer view in 2022!


Some graphics on this blog are courtesy of




Randy Nelson


Randy Nelson is a retired educator of 38 years. He served students as a high school speech, theater, and English teacher. He served colleagues as a director of curriculum and instruction; and, most recently he served the La Crosse, WI school district as its superintendent of schools. He has a strong leadership track record promoting choice and innovation via unique community partnerships. He currently serves RE@L, inc as its Director of Education.