Learning through ‘Outside Eyes’

August 1, 2015

The coldest winter I ever spent was a conference-going summer in any air-conditioned room across the USA in July. Brrr. I have worn such fun summer outfits and they were all covered with a black wool shawl.

But, good news, in those rooms learning took place. Goose bumped and chattering was I, but learning happened. Don’t even get me started on how the minute I stepped into the humid heat my hair ‘winged.’ Oy.

Deb Christensen from Wildwood School was my facilitator for the week of Critical Friends Group Coach Training (more on CFG below) and she framed the work we did together as having the opportunity to see your work through ‘outside eyes.’ I took the metaphor for my learning for the whole of July – to attend all events and learn about myself through ‘outside eyes.’

From the CFG workshop in Los Angeles: I relearned again (and again) that not everyone feels safe with banter and extroverted voices and that protocols help bring a welcomed silence and more voices to the table.

From the Visible Learning conference in San Antonio: I learned quite viscerally that I ‘feel’ I am having an impact but I don’t always ‘know’ my impact. I am percolating and marinating on this question. Do I ‘know’ my impact? A lot of both heart and mind at play here.

From the Leveraging Teacher Leadership Institute in Iowa: I relearned there is no need to reinvent the wheel around finding resources to support teacher leaders. There are organizations that do teacher leadership development work with intentionality and expertise. www.teachers21.org and www.leadingeducators.org are two of them. And their staffs include fun folks who are down to earth and fun to hang with on the road.

From my colleagues from all over the world and my CFG ‘focus group’: I learned that the idea of a Women’s’ Leadership in Education Institute is a worthwhile idea to work on. I believe (and know) that there is a need for women to come together to grow our leadership expertise and to build a community. Be on the lookout for more in the coming months.

What did ‘outside eyes’ teach you about yourself this summer?

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 jennifer@jenniferabrams.com and we can set up a time to talk voice to voice. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cool Resources

A mélange of sites, podcasts and new learnings.

Critical Friends Groups New Coaches Training information can be found at the National School Reform Faculty’s website. “The National School Reform FacultyTM organization empowers educators to create meaningful learning experiences for all, by collaborating effectively in reflective democratic communities that foster educational equity and social justice.”

Look at the resources gathered to support follow up action after having seen Anna Deavere Smith’s “Notes From the Field: Doing Time In Education: The California Chapter” which played at Berkeley Rep. until August 2nd. “Anna turns her attention to “the school-to-prison pipeline,” which, by pushing children out of the classroom into the criminal justice system, has created a lost generation of youth from poor communities. In act one, Anna performs striking portraits culled from interviews she conducted with nearly 150 individuals in Northern California and elsewhere in the nation, affected by the pipeline’s devastating policies—capturing the dynamics of a rapidly shifting social issue through her trademark performance technique.” We need to change this narrative and Anna’s toolkit offers us good ways to begin our journey to do so.

www.youthspeaks.org – Their mission: “Through the intersection of arts education and youth development practices, civic engagement strategies, and high quality artistic presentation, Youth Speaks creates safe spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of societal change.” Their vision: “Youth Speaks exists to shift the perceptions of youth by combating illiteracy, isolation, alienation, and silence, creating a global movement of brave new voices bringing the noise from the margins to the core.” Wow.

The Civil Conversations Project – “The Civil Conversations Project (CCP) is a series of podcasts, live events, and online resources for beginning new conversations in public life at every level. How do we speak the questions we don’t know how to ask each other? Can we find ways to bridge gulfs between us about politics, morality, and life itself? Can we do that even while we continue to disagree, passionately? How is technology playing into all this, and how can we shape it?  Krista Tippett draws out voices of wisdom, poetry, and practicality, one on one as well as in dialogue. They model a new kind of conversation and relationship with difference. They offer ideas and tools for healing our fractured civic spaces.”