Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In some heady company . . .

I am attending the SoL Executive Champions' Workshop at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont with Tami Henkel and Dawn Wakeley.  We were invited as part of our work with SoLEd that included all conference fees paid through a grant recently awarded to support SoLEd's Common Core initiative.  We have been joined by representatives from Milwaukee, Sacramento, and Adams 12 (near Denver) school systems to continue conversations on how to move the work forward and consider individual system needs to support teachers and principals.  There are about fifty people at the workshop from eleven different countries.

The title of the workshop is "Leading Transformation in the Face of Disruption on the Level of System and Self”.  The content of the sessions over the three days deals with questions such as those below.

  1. What can we do to nurture hope that real change is possible; without relying on simplistic "the answer is...” messages?
  2. How do we identify and strengthen local, regional and global commons?
  3. What is required at a personal and collective level to extend leadership networks across space and time?
  4. What do we need to do to increase our ability for reflection on the level of system and self? As Humberto Maturana, a leading cognitive biologist stated, "It is only through reflection, that we change our history.”
The day starts with breakfast at 7:30 followed by sessions until 6:00 p.m., 6:20 this evening, followed by dinner at 7:00 that just finished a little after 9:00.  They are long days with much sitting and getting and much dialogue in small and large groups.  It is truly a learning experience that took on added anxiety for me this year when Peter Senge asked me to be one of three resource people to share our journey.  My immediate response was to decline because of my reluctance to share our story with this audience that grew into anxiety when I was asked to share more about me, something I struggle doing outside our system.  If you check the links to the three Core Faculty, Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, and Arawana Hayashi and the other two resource people, Darcy Winslow and Claudia Madrazo you will understand my anxiety.

It was little intimidating at this morning's planning meeting where I learned about what they wanted in our stories and that I would be sharing mine just before lunch.  Please know that the sessions are outside in a large tent so there is no opportunity for slides, my crutch to support telling stories.  To make it more difficult, I didn't have the opportunity to use the chart paper prior to speaking to provide structure for the story.  So, I took a few notes up to the front and shared my/our story in about twenty minutes.  Like always I was not pleased with the product, but I was pleased that I took the challenge and went beyond my comfort zone to use our experience to support others not as far along on their journey.  I received some positive feedback so I don't believe that I embarrassed us.

Once again, I am so thankful for the learning opportunities I have experienced in our school system and I leave today even more proud of what we have accomplished and are doing as I hear the struggles others are experiencing around the country.

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