I spent the last several days thinking and talking about leadership and the pathways that lead to and open into leadership opportunities—particularly in a writing project context. Settled in the rustic natural beauty of the hills outside Austin, I did a lot of walking, and talking, and thinking.
In the educational community, many teachers doubt their leadership—especially if it is situated outside of the classroom. Leadership feels like something bestowed, it comes with a recognizable title, and it means telling others what to do.
But in so many ways, my own experiences with leadership have involved making and doing. It has been about invitations that carry with them a sense of belief that I have something to offer—maybe something I haven’t yet recognized in myself. It has been about saying yes even when I wasn’t sure of what saying yes meant.
And like this weekend, sometimes I walk behind someone else, noticing the footsteps, watching where they sidestep the boggy places and climb over the branches.
Sometimes I break the trail, exploring through my feet on the ground, listening to the sounds around me, noting the running water and the squirrel that runs overhead. When I feel lost (and that definitely happens!), I stop to look and listen. What happened to my path? Can I find it again…or make my own in the moment? And there are times when I simply have to backtrack, retracing the steps I already took.
So I know how to support new leaders in the ways I have been supported to grow as a leader. But how do we recognize and make spaces for leaders with abilities and knowledge different from our own?
How do we make spaces so their leadership can take root and grow outside the groomed planter boxes that are easily recognizable?
All that walking and talking has me contemplating possibilities, and is lighting the fires of design thinking. I’m looking forward to gathering a team at our writing project site to considering alternatives that will include those who haven’t found our typical entry points, creating new access–hopefully for those who bring talents and perspectives currently missing from our conversations and our planning.
I’m walking my way in to new understandings…and I hope that will also open up new pathways for others to walk their way into leadership at our site, enriching and expanding our community of learners and leaders.
I was recently reading a newsletter from a blogger I enjoy (joyfullygreen.com) and something she wrote caught my eye…that the word photography comes from Greek roots meaning writing with light. Now that makes sense to me. Sometimes I feel like I draw with the light…and sometimes I feel like I am drawing the outlines between the light.
The other night I was walking back to my room at the retreat center where I was staying in Austin and started to notice the shadows of trees along the walkways. As I stopped to take pictures, I also noticed that I entered some of the images as well, outlined in shadow.
The tree in front of my house has become a favorite of mine, drawing my attention upward. It’s bare branches outline interesting angles creating a perfect frame for viewing the sky and clouds, helping me notice the blues and grays and whites beyond.
Sometimes I find myself chasing the setting sun, trying to capture the nuances of light and color. Hiking in Austin meant searching for the sun through the trees along the trails. This shot caught the sun outlined thickly in orange peeking through the trees. (That’s not snow or water…those are rocks on the ground!)
Apparently prickly pear is as common in Austin as it is here at home. I love the way the light outlines this view of the flat, spiky pads and the rounded red fruit.
Finding the word “Exit” outlined in thick black marker makes me wonder how many people have felt lost or confused trying to complete this loop trail. I know when I climbed the many log stairs at the end of the loop, I was looking for the exit! I didn’t need the sign…and actually overlooked it the first time I walked the trail.
And there is something about sunsets. They seem to outline the landscape in color: rich reds and oranges and yellows. And if you look closely, you will find the moon–a thin sliver outlined in light.
So, where do you find the light creating outlines? Or shadows and color outlining images you see? How do you write with light and see those outlines you find in your world?
You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #outlines for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
Take a look around for outlines you notice. Which are created with light? With shadow? With color? How will you interpret outlines through your lens?
It’s that time of year…time to choose a word to guide my year. I’ve already selected and rejected several, testing them only to find out they were too literal or too confining, not the inspiration or guide I am looking for.
Last year I chose explore…and indeed I did explore. I looked under rocks, climbed up mountainsides, and discovered landscapes beyond my usual experiences.
The year before that I chose play for my one little word. Play reminded me to find the fun around me, to push against my seriousness and to make time for myself.
This year I am anticipating change. I will take on an important new role in my life. Very soon I will be grandma to not one, not two, but three baby boys! And I can already feel my heart expanding as our family grows. Over the last several years, I’ve been watching my sons walk the path toward fatherhood, becoming loving and attentive husbands and dog dads…and now nurturing, caring dads-to-be. My amazing daughters-in-law are big in belly and heart, one carrying identical twins, both women already imagining how they will balance motherhood and work, family and friends. I had such fun spending time with them over the holidays–talking about their dreams and fears, and watching the babies push and bump, making their presence known from the inside out. I am lucky that even when I am not with my sons and daughters-in-law, I am the recipient of updates and what were at first mysterious sonogram portraits, becoming more familiar and now revealing hints of the features of the babies that will soon enter the world outside their mothers’ bodies. As grandma, I anticipate building new relationships with my sons and daughter-in-laws…and with these little boys who are my grandsons. (I can’t wait!!! The time has passed both excruciatingly slowly and in a blink of an eye, it won’t be long now!)
And I want to continue my growth in other areas of my life as well. I am continually looking for ways to expand my understanding of teaching and learning. How do I create conditions where learning can happen–both for my students and for myself and other adults in the room? How do I facilitate learning within our writing project community–for myself and the others who comprise this inspiring group? How do I ensure there are pathways that welcome new voices and new perspectives, enriching our educational community by increasing the diversity within our community?
I also want to continue to play and explore the world on my own terms. My photography continues to be a tool that encourages me to try new things and expand my visions of what is possible. We already have some places to explore on our wish list…as nearby as Yosemite and some international destinations as well.
And so, my one little word this year is expand. I hope to expand my heart and mind, my understanding and empathy. I am striving for an expansive year of growth, of love, of adventure, of relationships (and not of my waistline!).
As much as I love my job, it still takes some effort to come off the two week winter break and get back into the groove of work. And to make it even more challenging this year, we began our week back with rain! (Remember, this is San Diego and rain is a major weather event.)
It was damp, but not wet enough to keep kids indoors as I headed out for Monday morning playground duty. I love our view…with the ocean visible in the distance. We could see that we had some stormy weather in store…
Rainy days at school tend to be a rare occurance, and the kids love them! Teachers, however, start to feel the energy building as kids who are used to lots of outdoor play spend too much time confined in small spaces. When we finally got outside late in the afternoon, there was a wonderful light illuminating the playground. I love the brightness of the light, the ominous dark clouds in the back, and the colorful kids in this view.
On my way home I couldn’t resist stopping by the beach to see how the storminess was affecting the shoreline. I was greeted by tractors pushing sand, building up the protective mounds to create a defense against the high surf and powerful waves.
Between the tractors and the power of the water, the beach is always changing. The sand comes and goes, shaping the shoreline and creating pools of water in unexpected places. As I looked up at the clouds I also noticed the pelicans in formation.
The rains continued through the week (dropping more rain in a few days than we get in a month or more in other years) and the news has been filled with reports of flooding and road closures…and even a tornado warning on Wednesday! The alert system on my cell phone has indicated flash flood warnings several times over the last few days. I even dug out an umbrella on Tuesday to try to keep my bags dry as I headed from the parking lot to the writing project office on Tuesday. By Thursday, I knew that working from home (instead of heading to the writing project) was a good idea. As I took a break from grant writing, I noticed the sun glimpsing through a break in the clouds. I take many photos of this tree…and here it is still hanging onto one lone leaf against the brilliant blue sky.
Less than an hour later, the skies darkened and the wind picked up. The rain was coming soon. The tops of these palm trees leaned into the breezes and you can catch a peek at the sun setting as the storm rolled back in.
Today we got a reprieve, and the rains have left…for now anyway. (They’re expected back tomorrow night.) I couldn’t resist pulling off the road on my way to work this morning to capture the sunrise reflected in the clouds.
And our students carry on with their learning. Piles of kelp collected from the storm-strewn beaches were the basis of today’s science lab. Students observed, labeled parts…and eventually photographed and sketched our local giant kelp. And they love big words, like the scientific name for giant kelp. You’ll notice this first grader has labeled his sketch macrocystis pyrifera, commonly known as kelp.
So, what has been going on in your week? Are you back to work after a break or out enjoying your local winter weather? Have you experimented with some aspect of your photography or documented something you are noticing in new or different ways?
You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #myweek for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
So what has happened during your week? How might you document it through a photo or two? I’m looking forward to seeing your week through your lens!