White Light

February 1, 2022

At the start of a new year, I often decide on a word I will work with that shapes my interactions and stretches me at my edges.

This year my word is not one but two words. White light.

I often say we in K-12 education have credentials in how to teach our students and our subject areas but we don’t have credentials in talking effectively with other adults. I know that we focus on our classrooms and our student interactions and we need to – it’s our mission to support students and their achievement and wellbeing.

And we also need to look at how we talk to the other adults on our journey doing the work with us. How are we creating belonging and connection amongst the adults? How are we supporting our teams to be psychologically safe places to challenge and to move forward?

It takes guts to be vulnerable, to be transparent, and to be brave. I shake when I have to have a hard conversation or apologize. This isn’t small stuff. It is important stuff. I believe we need to all get better at it all.

This year I am shining a bright, white light at our need to better our communication savvy. It can’t just be a dim light that we use; it has to be strong and bright – we gotta honestly look at where we fall short in our communications. For me, I interrupt. I complete other people’s sentences. I don’t paraphrase often. I don’t suspend my certainty enough. All of those challenges get me in trouble, personally and professionally. But keeping the light off and not looking at these challenges doesn’t make them go away. I have to turn on the light.

This isn’t, as my friend Christian says, a ‘solve for x’ kinda challenge. It isn’t a one and done workshop, 90 minutes tops. The challenges of communications in schools is going to require a sustained, ongoing, consistent review of our behavior. Check ins with ourselves and with our teams. A focus not just on the ‘what’ we do but the ‘how’ of it as well.

The focus on our process hasn’t been on a front burner for a while. The urgency of today’s challenges of health and safety has narrowed the circle around which we can direct our attention.

As we move beyond survival into the next few months and beyond, I want to shine a white light on the ‘how’ of our work.

I have been talking to so many folks who have such potential and feel so wounded by their interactions this year. They want to show up and contribute, have their hearts in the right place and talents to share, and the exchanges they have had with colleagues have left them questioning their capacity. It’s not okay.

We need to live generously. And bring our best adult self to the big important work ahead of us. I hope to bring light thru my work and provide support to those keepin’ on keeping on and finding their voices around what matters. White light can be so illuminating and liberating. Join me.

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.

Cool Resources

Excited to dig into this book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. Amazon says, “Drawing on the insights of both ancient and contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual teachers, Oliver Burkeman delivers an entertaining, humorous, practical, and ultimately profound guide to time and time management. Rejecting the futile modern fixation on “getting everything done,” Four Thousand Weeks introduces readers to tools for constructing a meaningful life by embracing finitude, showing how many of the unhelpful ways we’ve come to think about time aren’t inescapable, unchanging truths, but choices we’ve made as individuals and as a society―and that we could do things differently.”

I am looking into Dan Ariely’s work a bit more. He’s a behavioral economist whose newest book is Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.

As I was looking for questions for a relationship check in, which you can repurpose and edit for a collaboration or team check in, I found The Two Drifters website, “where love meets adventure. Here you will learn how to build a better, deeper relationship with your partner, and how to create a life that incorporates romance and adventure into every day together.” Check it out.