March 1, 2017
When I was 20, my dad sent me a note in the spirit of “Hello Dolly.” “Very few people come to the table to eat. Make sure you are one of them.” I went abroad my junior year and thus my banquet became a global feast.
At 31, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and things got a little smaller in scope for a while. All is well now, but it became a smaller pond in which to play for several years while I learned to trust my body again, and learned to live with the possibility of it not working, too.
At 39, my high school friend, Mach, suddenly died from a brain aneurysm while on a trip to Uganda. Over the next several years I had an urgency to do things now, celebrate life now. I went on safari in Africa, saw Macchu Picchu and visited the pyramids.
In my 40s, I went out on a blind date. We met on a Monday. My date came to the table, smiled, and said, “What should we have? Champagne?” I thought it was ‘a bit much’ to order champagne on a Monday, and he said, “Why not on a Monday?” While he turned out to be a real jerk, I have never forgotten his comment. It liberated me yet again.
Last Tuesday, after doing a generational savvy session with the staff, I had dinner at a retirement community outside of Sacramento. It was “Dance Tuesday.” With residents, all of them over the age of 55 and most in their 60s and 70s, I two-stepped and line danced. And hey, it was a Tuesday. More liberation.
This Monday, in row 20 on a Southwest flight from Orange County, it was a fellow passenger’s birthday. Ariel had turned 5. We ALL shut our window shades, turned off our reading lights, and turned on our flight attendant call buttons to simulate candles. Then we sang Ariel ‘Happy Birthday.’ As Ariel ‘blew out’ her candles, we all turned out our flight attendant call lights to make it dark again.
If 172 random folks can get it together for 2 minutes for a kid named Ariel, what might we do as teams and schools and organizations for one another, not to mention for humanity? Ariel, expressing her joy, held up 5 fingers thru the whole song and folks took photos for her on their phones. Welcome to elementary school, Ariel. Let’s hope we can get it together for you as you join us for your educational journey. I’m betting on you and on us to do right by you and keep you feeling excited about life and free to celebrate it, no matter where or when. I’m 45 years ahead of you and I’ve got your back.
We are living in challenging times politically. In the USA these days we are dealing with difficulties in our healthcare system, with our schools, and in our society. Frankly, it’s all a big bummer. So that is why “Champagne on a Monday!” is my theme for my 50th year on this planet. Hafiz wrote, “Stay close to any sounds that make you glad you are alive.” My take on the theme is “Drink the champagne, no matter what day it is served.” Here’s to nothing being ‘too much’ for any day of the week! L’Chaim!
Proud to call all these authors my colleagues. I think you will sense a continuation of the theme here too…
Liberating Leadership Capacity: Pathways to Educational Wisdom by Linda Lambert, Diane P. Zimmerman, Mary E. Gardner
This book, “presents a new concept of leadership based on establishing democratic interactions, engaging constructivist learning, and developing leadership capacity in school communities. The authors propose liberating leadership capacity as the foundation for effective school reform. This is the process of schools as organizations fully developing into constructivist learning organizations where: participation in professional reciprocal learning is high, healthy collaboration is a normative component of work, professional knowledge is generated from within, and school leaders develop site level strategies for systemic change that arise from practice.”
We Must Say No to the Status Quo: Educators as Allies in the Battle for Social Justice by Veronica McDermott
Yvette Jackson writes, “Veronica McDermott has gifted the field with an indispensable book for those educators, who earnestly want to defy the systematic intellectual and social marginalization of millions of students, including, but not limited to students of color, but who have felt ill-equipped to demonstrate their earnestness, paralyzed by their uncertainty or fearfulness of how to cross the racial and other divides (linguistic, religious, class, etc.) that pervade the United States and Canada. These educators will find in this book a heart-felt, honest, uncompromising tour de force; a path replete with the introspections, considerations and responses with which to buoy their resolve and fortify their confidence to be strategic, competent allies in the battle for social justice for our students of color – and all other marginalized students – waiting to excel!”
Janice Bradley writes, “High Expectations Teaching is a must read for anyone committed to creating equitable school systems allowing all students, especially students in poverty, educational opportunities for enhancing their lives. Included is a strong research base with practical instructional strategies for creating positive interactions with students, and suggestions for impactful school level policies and procedures.”
About Jennifer Abrams
Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.
Work with Jennifer
Praise for Jennifer
“Our school’s work with Jennifer Abrams has sown the seeds of stronger communication skills among the adults in the building. This has only served to strengthen the integrity of communication between staff and students as well. We’ve added her language to our expectations: honest, humane, and growth-producing conversations occur regularly.”