Kia Ora – Ni Hao – Namaste

October 1, 2015

September was a journey. A month of travel. New people. New learnings. I loved every minute. I never got lonely. I never got bored. It was enlivening and inspiring and fun. One of my key learnings was the importance of greetings, the meaning of community, a respect for the other.

I found the variety of greetings and welcomes and the importance of community different than that to which I am accustomed to here in the USA.

Rarely was a cell phone on. Food was always, always present. Teatime and breaks were 30 minutes, maybe 20 minutes. People didn’t jump on their computers during that time, but instead ate and talked to one another. Engaging face to face mattered.

It happened in every country. Chai in Mumbai with a samosa. Beautifully cut fruit and sweets in China. Always a muffin or scone in New Zealand.

I found myself connecting with my colleagues. It was a gift. No rushing. No worrying. Ahh…


Sherry Turkle’s new book Reclaiming Conversation affirms my gut response to how vital teatime can be. Turkle, a clinical psychologist and MIT professor, titled her last book, Alone Together, and she speaks again of the need to talk to one another face to face. In author Gish Jen’s review of Turkle’s new book Jen writes, “To reclaim conversation is to reclaim our humanity.  We all know it at some level, and yet how satisfying to find our hunch proved right: Turkle shows us that to love well, learn well, work well, and be well, we must protect a vital piece of ourselves, and can.”

I felt first hand how wonderful it was to be welcomed and seen and acknowledged. I spent time talking and eating and communicating. I remember a time of austerity in my former district, which I termed, “No coffee for you. No bagels for you.” It just seemed so wrong. Now I know why. In my bones I know why. We must take time for tea and each other. It matters.

If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to call me, 650-868-1916 and we can Face Time, Skype me at jenniferabrams, or email me at and we can set up a time to talk voice to voice. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cool Resources

I met some fabulous ed-entrepreneurs in Mumbai who started an online interactive course on critical thinking called Callido Basecamp. “Callido Basecamp is a skills building program for students aged 14 – 16. It targets essential thinking, research, communication and self-management skills. In Basecamp, these skills are built in an interactive, engaging, inquiry-based manner, with differentiated feedback that targets specific misconceptions.” AND, they have offered me 10 free licenses for schools to work with their program. Please email me at and I will connect you with them. The founders are smart and approachable and you should take a look at their work.

Jena Ball co-created CritterKin and started The Not Perfect Hat Club. It has bloomed into an international set of blogs, events, Twitter Chats, on site classroom visits and more. “CritterKin’s “Not Perfect Hat Club” is an engaging, entertaining and delightfully playful way to teach kids that perfection is not an option. It grew out of CritterKin’s visits with elementary school students who repeatedly said negative things about themselves and their work. The Not Perfect Hat Club has grown into an illustrated CritterKin storybook, lesson guides and a variety of project based learning activities that encourage kids to throw perfection to the wind, trust themselves and explore their creativity.

To learn more about the club and how you can help us make the book and related teaching materials a reality for kids and classrooms around the world, go to: I think Jena is a dedicated author and educator and her work is meaningful. Check it out.

Last but not least, I am doing an online book study of Having Hard Conversations with my colleague, Kevin Simpson, from KDSL. The conversation will be ongoing from October 4-November 8 and anyone worldwide can sign up to join in. Being asynchronous, we have folks from the States and the Middle East and other parts of the world. More info at Online Book Club Flyer.