December 2, 2019
A colleague wrote me from Bangkok. He is in ‘start up mode’ with a new school scheduled to start in the new year. He was thinking what to do to intentionally build a school team that has deep trust with each other and strong psychological safety. (More about that concept below in Cool Resources.) I told him I would love to be a thought partner – I too was working on trust – trusting myself. I shared with him that I was a ‘work in progress’ on that front.
A few months ago I was incredibly cautious on a walk down to a creek at Tassajara. Well, I was wearing no shoes, there were lots of rocks, the water was terribly cold, and it was the middle of the night but by golly, I was going in to see the constellations and the Milky Way…! So I went slowly with a newfound friend. And step-by-step I felt my way, trying to trust my footing, and I was able to see the stars. It was glorious.
Fast forward to a trip to see some penguins. I saw one, like the one here, who was molting. Not the most attractive of penguins but I found her (or him) rather adorable. Wikipedia says, “During penguin molting, every single baby feather on their body is replaced with a new adult one. This process is often called a “catastrophic molt” because all the feathers are replaced at once. And that scruffy look – it’s because the old feather won’t fall out until the new one has completely grown in.”
Wow. Catastrophic molting. That’s something! I don’t think I am molting that boldly but something is afoot. I’m sloughing. I’m shedding. And, I am growing comfortable in this new skin. It can be a vulnerable time. I grow anxious at moments. What’s new? A new book is percolating. There are new places to go. New relationships to form. (?) It is all very exciting, but it does leave one, at least emotionally, looking a little like the penguin. It might not look fabulous yet the older I get, the less fear I have of the new. I am growing more trusting of myself. Still a work in progress and yet feeling more okay about the scars and the bug bites and the bruises, the tears, the no make up days, the belly. Here’s to metaphorically and psychologically molting for fresh new eyes and skin for 2020!
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers Amazon writes, “Stanford University professor, bestselling author, and acclaimed educator Jo Boaler has spent decades studying the impact of beliefs and bias on education. In Limitless Mind, she explodes these myths and reveals the six keys to unlocking our boundless learning potential. Her research proves that those who achieve at the highest levels do not do so because of a genetic inclination toward any one skill but because of the keys that she reveals in the book. Our brains are not “fixed,” but entirely capable of change, growth, adaptability, and rewiring. Want to be fluent in mathematics? Learn a foreign language? Play the guitar? Write a book? The truth is not only that anyone at any age can learn anything, but the act of learning itself fundamentally changes who we are, and as Boaler argues so elegantly in the pages of this book, what we go on to achieve.”
Jethro Jones, someone you might know of from The Transformative Principal Podcast, wrote a great blog entitled Psychological Safety – What it is, Why it’s Important, and How to Foster it. “A psychologically safe workplace is one where there is learning happening.” And that’s for the adults! Check it out.
And as a post-Thanksgiving gratitude moment, check out Remember by poet Joy Harjo. Gorgeous and powerful. Full of life.
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 latest book is Swimming in the Deep End: Four Foundational Skills for Leading Successful School Initiatives. Her previous 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
Honest, Humane and Growth-Producing
“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.”