I really like this time of the year, because the kids are very motivated and I know all of them well enough to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses, and I have worked with them long enough to see a pattern in their learning and to see if they are growing in their efforts, responsibility, and habits of mind.
One thing I am trying this year (sort of organically) is to have all assignments be a dialogue with the students. They turn the assignments in, I look at them, give them back with written comments, and if the student's work isn't up to par, then the student knows that they need to re-do it (because I say it to them, leaving no assumptions). I think this back-and-forth dialogue is a more natural way of learning, and as a result I am a bit more lax on the deadlines. Unless a kid's work is more than a couple of weeks late, it matters more to me that it's done well than it is done absolutely on time. And it also helps to instill a culture of quality over quantity of work.
We have an intern in our department this semester, and talking to her is bringing back all kinds of memories of my own first year of teaching! (All the hectic schedule, the stress, that feeling of momentary panic when you're standing in front of the room and kids won't listen, etc.) She's great though, definitely much better/firmer than I was as a first-year teacher. She's also multi-talented, totally certified to teach math, science, and German all at once. I'm still working on my one semi-professional qualification of teaching math...
Besides that, I think our department is finally, finally at a smooth-sailing pace. We've finally recovered from the shock of the start of the year, when everything was constantly backlogged. It only took us 4 months to get to this place. I can only say that the next year will be better, because I'll already know my way through the start of the year, and I can prepare for it better. Being a department chair is definitely not easy, but I think people have gradually warmed up to me in the last 4 months (and I have gradually gotten used to the responsibilities). By that, I mean now they don't bolt out the door at 4:30pm at the end of the meeting. They actually linger until we're done with business... which is a definite sign of something good, however small. I think I have a good relationship with everyone in the department, which really, really helps to smooth things over when issues arise. I cannot wait to see what the second half of the year will bring!