Living The ‘Shine Theory’ Out Loud

January 7, 2019

I am working on it. Seriously. It is one of my goals for the new year. NOT to be comparative. Not to be envious. For me, and if you know me, it is SO ‘me’ to compare. To not compare is a big challenge. I hear about the next book by Brene Brown or watch others run with ease, seemingly forever, on the treadmill and I twinge when I see, yet again, someone else on the list of keynoters at a major conference. Feeling comparative isn’t smart or helpful to anyone, but boy, do I go there anyway…not good. Ann Friedman says it better than I do and wrote about a competitive relationship built on competition in The Cut – “Contrary to deep-seated theories of female competition, I don’t think that competition made either of us any better or happier.”

Instead of feeling snarky this year, I am committed to practice the Shine Theory. I first learned about this theory while reading The New York Times’ Gender Letter. Two besties, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman host a podcast called Call Your Girlfriend where they describe the work that they do and what they are ‘about.’ They practice living aloud the Shine Theory, “which means we believe that when one of us shines, we all do.” They believe “[w]omen sharing their experiences with each other is a potentially life-changing act” as, in the end, “we’re all just trying to get free together.” They also say they “work hard, relax hard, and snack hard.” What’s not to love?

So in the spirit of shining, I want to share with you Brene Brown’s newest book, Daring to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. and her video about trust in which she uses her BRAVING acronym. In a tight 9 minutes and 47 seconds Brown explains her ideas of what it takes to develop trust. It is enjoyable and authentic and could be used in workshops on collaboration. If anyone knows Brene, let me know. Would love to get a snack with her.

Shine on, Everyone!

If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at I look forward to hearing from you!

Cool Resources

The 74 “The 74 is a non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America. Our public education system is in crisis. In the United States, less than half of our students can read or do math at grade-level, yet the education debate is dominated by misinformation and political spin. Our mission is to lead an honest, fact-based conversation about how to give America’s 74 million children under the age of 18 the education they deserve. Our stories are backed by investigation, expertise, and experience. The 74’s reporting aims to challenge the status quo, expose corruption and inequality, and champion the heroes who bring positive change to our schools. There are 74 million children in America. There are 74 million reasons to talk about education. Join the conversation.”

The Grief of Accepting New Ideas by Rick Wormeli is a spot on and really well researched and well-written article about change and grief. As Wormeli writes, “The way we teach is often a statement of who we are. If someone questions our practices, it’s like they’re questioning our value as teachers. Our classroom instruction, including assessment and grading, technology integration, student-teacher interactions, and more, are expressions of how we see ourselves; they are our identity. Can we navigate these frequently troubled waters without invoking self-preserving egos and drowning in resentment?”

Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness and Trust by Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein. Amazon writes, “Humble Leadership calls for “here and now” humility based on a deeper understanding of the constantly evolving complexities of interpersonal, group and intergroup relationships that require shifting our focus towards the process of group dynamics and collaboration. Humble Leadership at all levels and in all working groups will be the key to achieving the creativity,”

About Jennifer Abrams

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


Email Address*

School / Organization


Praise for Jennifer

A thousand things are unspoken, implicit, buried in our educational lives. The invisibility of issues enforces the ineffective status quo. Change–personal, educational, institutional–requires that we speak OUT LOUD about what we know and believe. Jennifer Abrams brings decades of experience and years of training across the world to this usually overlooked essential act of finding our effective voice about what matters around learning.

Eric Booth, renowned art educator and author of Tending the Perennials: The Art and Spirit of a Personal Religion and The Everyday Work of Art: Awakening the Extraordinary in Your Daily Life