Has anyone been to a good faculty retreat? Has anyone been to a constructive, useful retreat that accomplished something substantial that could not otherwise have been accomplished in one or more non-retreat faculty meetings?
Has anyone left a faculty retreat with warm collegial feelings and no regrets about spending all day or at least part of a weekend with department colleagues?
In the hopes that such things exist or that some people at least believe that such things exist, I searched online for information on how to have a good/effective faculty retreat.
Some of the advice I found makes sense and seems rather obvious, though apparently not to some of the people organizing the retreats in which I have participated. For example: A successful faculty retreat requires advanced planning and organization of the discussion topics and tasks to be accomplished. Yes, yes, yes.
Some of the advice involves retreat activities that would make me run away: Play bonding games! Bring a nerf ball! Watch a movie together! Chew bubblegum! No, no, no.
I suppose one school of thought is that the random behavior that characterizes shorter faculty meetings might eventually converge into constructive action in a longer faculty meeting held at a remote, peaceful location.
My school of thought -- what one might reasonably call the negative, doesn't-play-well-with-others, you-are-so-cranky-you-are-probably-part-of-the-problem school of thought -- is that faculty retreats are a few orders of magnitude more painful and time-wasting than regular faculty meetings, an effect that is magnified by being in a remote, peaceful location with certain colleagues.
10 months ago