#OneWord2017…and 2018

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My New Year’s post mentioned that in lieu of the traditional resolution I often select a word that provides focus or grounds me to the goals I have for the year. I have loved reading the blogs and tweets and posts tagged with #OneWord2018! The energy and excitement is contagious, and there is such power in sharing your word.

As I was searching for my 2018 word, I struggled to find a one. I was encouraged as I read Amber Teamann’s post that gave me “permission” to choose more than one word. That encouragement was reiterated as Matt Arend has a word to get his year started. But even after reading these and many other #OneWord2018 posts, I was floundering…till I realized, I am not done with my #OneWord2017.

 

My 2017 word was “unflappable”: marked by assurance and self-control.

Another definition reads, “having or showing calmness in a crisis.” It is a funny little word that had very serious implications for me.

When I first saw the word  (posted by a friend as her word) I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it was the word for me.

For several years we have joked that when I get stressed…I get flappy. I am naturally animated when I talk, but there is no way to miss an anxious, stressed, frustrated flap. Sometimes the “flappiness” is a signal to myself that I need to take a deep breath, and other times it is a cue to those who know me well to tell me to take a deep breath.

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So, in 2017 I set off to be “marked by assurance and self-control”, and to “have or show calmness in a crisis”. I made a graphic and saved it to the home screen on my phone,  I looked up all the scriptures on peace, saved some really cool quotes about being calm,  and tried to use the Breath App on my Apple Watch.

After a year of focusing on this word I can better recognize stressful situations, in the midst and from a distance. I can take a deep breath, find my center, and keep going. Which is a really great first step! After a year of concentrated effort, I very rarely flap…externally.

As I reflected on my progress towards becoming “unflappable” I realized..I focused more on the “marked by” and “have or show” than the REAL deep work of cultivating assurance, self-control, and calmness. And as it turns out, it is easier to look calm, than to be calm.

2017 was a good start on this “unflappable” path, but I still have work to do if this calm and resolve, assurance and peace are going be more than just surface characteristics. It may be one of my words forever, or at least be in the rotation.

Still learning…

-Ash

 

Resolute over Resolutions

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I love New Year’s. I love fresh starts. I love new beginnings. This love of new beginnings is one of the reasons that I LOVE being an educator. The traditional New Year’s season is more of a bonus goal setting time for me, as I generally think about my year from first day of school to the last, rather than January to December. As I was thinking about this extra gift of goal setting and refocus, I began to tally up all of the different markers in my year that I intentionally take inventory and take action.

If I were to have a formal “goal-setting calendar”, it might look a little like this.

  • January: I like to focus on a word, or group of words to focus the year.
  • February: I take the opportunity to be reflective and set new goals on my birthday.
  • March: Budgets are generally due in March, so this is a great time to check in on progress and make plans for the future.
  • May: End of year assessment and regroup.
  • July: Personal professional goals for the next school year, and the gear up for teachers to return.
  • August: My husband and I always reevaluate and talk through our plans and goals and progress as a family at our anniversary. (August is also my 1/2 birthday, so it is a good time to check in on my birthday goals.)
  • November: Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge accomplishments, blessings and those that have helped you grow throughout the year.

When I was in the classroom I also used grading periods and unit start and stops to reevaluate and set goals for student support and growth. Now I throw in school board updates, and department meetings.

With all of this reflection and goal setting, you might think that I am a fan of resolutions. I am not. I don’t make them.

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Making a New Year’s Resolution seems a lot like the definition here: hard to get through, it means something different to everyone, and can make you want to give up before you start. (Did you even read all of the definition?)

Resolute. This is the one for me. I want to be bold and steady. Marked by firm determination? Yes, please!

Making resolutions is something you do.

Being resolute is something you are.

My “goal setting calendar” is really more about my commitment to the continuous cycle of improvement. For the last few years I have used the PDSA Cycle to think about initiatives, project planning, and change. It also works with party planning, knocking out your Christmas shopping, and reorganizing your closet.  This process originated in the healthcare field and has been applied beautifully to educational endeavors. Check out this resource!

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Being resolute is about the process.

When David and I were engaged, before we planned any of the wedding details, we went to set up premarital counseling with Brother Tom Hill, the campus pastor at SAGU. After congratulating us, he got out his calendar and was ready to schedule our TEN SESSIONS. After about session three David and I noticed how many times he used the word “process”. Marriage is a process. You will have to go through the process of getting to know each other. You will learn through the process. The next session we may have tick marked how many times he said process on the top of our notes…it was a lot.

It seems silly how clearly I remember this, but the truth is-19 years later, Brother Tom is still right. Marriage is a process. Teaching is a process. Parenting is a process. Change is a process. Learning is a process. Continuous improvement is continuous…it is cyclical…it is a process.

As we move through this segment of the cycle, this portion of the process, I want to be bold, steady, marked by determination, and as always…still learning.

Happy New Year, Friends!

-Ash

 

 

2017: A Year of Tulips

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Pink carnations have always been my favorite flowers. It was a predictable sweetness-a pink carnation, tied with a simple pink bow, in his hand as he waited for our family car to pull into his driveway. I am not sure how long my grandfather (a mortician turned florist) stood outside in anticipation on the days we made the 12 hour journey from Texas to Alabama. In the age before cell phones we would have called before we left, but he would have had no updates along the route, and yet was always there, carnation at the ready, waiting for me when we turned the corner and 2302 Taylor Avenue came into view. After every visit I waved goodbye from the back window of the car with another pink carnation, another pink bow, in my hand until he was completely out of sight.

Carnations will always be my favorite, but this year I have found a new appreciation and admiration for the tulip.

As the granddaughter of a florist, I made a decision once my workspace shifted from a classroom to an office that as much as possible, I would have fresh flowers on my desk. It a “choose happy” habit that brightens my day! I try to leave (extra) early on Mondays to pick up a bundle and arrange them before the workday starts. In 2017 I have found myself looking for, loving, and learning from tulips. A few of the reasons why…

1. Tulips grow from a bulb and MUST go through a dormant or “chilled” state in order to grow.

What I am learning is that “chill” is a prerequisite to growth, change and leadership. In this sense I think the chilling period can represent rest and recuperation, allowing yourself to take a deep breathe and be completely ready for the season ahead. But I also see another implication for leadership which is to take the time to let plans and ideas and change incubate. Listen and observe before “sprouting”.

I struggle with being chill. I am on the go all the time (I am writing this at 4am). I often say that I am a 100% kind of person, and it is true that I tend to come in a little “hot”. Tulips will not reach their full potential without this period of dormancy…I am beginning to understand that this is true for me as well.

2. Tulips are positively phototropic, bending towards the light.

Other flowers, once arranged in a vase or bouquet, stay the same.  Tulips are always moving, seeking out what they need to fully bloom. YES! I want to be POSITIVELY phototropic, willing to adjust, bend, and move into a position to grow. Tulips do this naturally, I think we have to be more intentional- positioning ourselves under the mentorship of great people, seeking out new resources, trying new strategies…and identifying the light source. In order to reach reach our potential we must be intentionally flexible, turning ourselves towards the things that will help us grow.

 

3. Tulips continue to grow after they have been cut.

Depending on the variation, tulips will grow anywhere from 1-6 inches after they are cut. This phenomenon adds to the illusion that they are dancing as they move towards the sun and spill over the side of their vases. Most flowers bloom once they have been cut, but their growth stops.  But for tulips the stem continues to grow, not just the flower.   The morning I figured this out I cried. I wish that I could say it was a “cute” cry…but I am trying to keep this blog honest.

This year has been an incredible year of learning and growth for me. In the midst of the reflections, the celebrations, the “aha” moments, the stretching and the changing there were times that it “cut” a little, and sometimes I felt “cut to the core”.  I will let you play with the symbolism…as this metaphor extends beautifully in so many meaningful ways. What I will say is that it fills my heart to know that when I am cut, that growth is not over, potential doesn’t disappear, there is more in store for me than what I could have imagined when I was comfortably planted.


I love carnations because I want to be like the man who gave them to me: compassionate, consistent, and kind. I love tulips because I want to be like the flower itself: prepared and slow when necessary, intentionally positioning myself in places to grow, and understanding that sometimes the most significant growth is preceded by pain.

This was a really great year in so many ways, I mean…I even learned a few things from flowers. Looking forward to 2018 because as always, I am still learning…

-Ash

From the other side of the wall…

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A few weeks ago while away at a conference I found myself completely awake in my hotel room listening to the sounds of a very upset little one refusing to be comforted by a very distressed mama. It was such a heart wrenching moment for me, reliving those anxious days when the boys couldn’t tell me how to help them. Her anxiety was palpable as I recalled my own.

As it is frowned upon to knock on the hotel door of a complete stranger at 1am and ask if they need an extra set of hands with their infant…I said a few prayers and posted to Facebook.

Not long after I put my phone away, the crying stopped and the quiet in the room returned…but my brain had just started up, my mind and heart rushing with the impact of the anonymous exchange that had just taken place.


Some of my thoughts from that night, and a few reflections since then…

1. I am so blessed to have awesome colleagues, family members and friends step up and into my corner.

Where would I be without those people in my life that are on the “other side of the wall” cheering me on, hoping for my success, encouraging me to keep going. The power of having positive people around you can not be measured. I believe that having a good mentor can truly impact your life. Someone who has walked where you are walking and without judgement or condescension but with empathy speak hope to your heart-these people are gold! Find them, keep them, be them.

2. Wherever I am, and whatever the situation, I am grateful for the gift of perspective.

This too shall pass. Nothing lasts forever. Sometimes in the middle of night it feels like the proverbial baby will never stop crying. But I have two almost 6ft babies that no longer wake up screaming and demanding a bottle. There are new worries, that is true, but this phase won’t last either. I am going to try to remember to enjoy the process and learn in the moment, knowing that this season will give way to another, and before I know it-I will be on the other side of the wall.

3. Sometimes support is active, and sometimes it require more distant cheering and good vibes.

I need to continue to think through support roles. (Hang with me on this one.) Obviously, I wouldn’t barge into a stranger’s room and offer to soothe a child I haven’t met…but I wanted to help. I really did. There are situations in my role as an educator, as a parent, as a friend where offers of support are needed and welcomed and even asked for. But I think that there are sometimes when I swoop in to help, genuinely wanting to be supportive, and the effort falls flat, isn’t well received, or doesn’t truly meet the need.

In learning and in life, there are some things that we have to do alone. I know that is true for myself-I have to remember that is true for others. I want to support (my boys, my husband, my friends, my team, my colleagues. and those around me) in a way that is wise and meaningful to the other person.

4. Prioritize progress and process over perfection…learn in the moment, commit to growth, always, always breathe.

I need to take my own advice, “be easy on yourself, take a deep breath.” I laid there that night thinking and rethinking (common practice for a recovering perfectionist) while telling the stranger to relax and give herself some space for growth. It is easier said than done, and I am working on it. “Choosing kindness” extends to others AND applies to the words I use to speak to myself.

5. We are all in this together. Learn from and lean on the people around you.

The number of likes and loves and comments on this middle of the night Facebook post reaffirmed to me that we are all on this journey together. We have all been on both sides of the wall, and we are here for each other. It makes my heart happy to know that we don’t face this lesson or this life alone.

In the middle of the night, from a crying baby, through a Facebook post, with and from all of you…I am still learning.

-Ash

 

The Reason Why

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I wrote this post last week on the plane heading home from learning with and from the network of kindred spirits that make up Learning Forward, the national organization for professional learning. These are literally my peeps. My head and my heart are full…and so is my blog queue.

I wrote this post, but didn’t post it. I wanted to keep it for myself and test it out. I hope when you try it on, you will want to keep it for yourself too.


I can not begin to tell you how many times I am asked why I do the work that I do.

  • Do you miss the campus?
  • Do you hate being removed from kids?
  • Don’t you wish you had students of your own?

In the very last keynote by Hanrie Han, the final learning event for me, I was presented with the most poignant and accurate explanation I have ever heard of why I do the work that I do. I listened. I cried big crocodile tears. I felt like the only one in the room her message speaking directly to my heart.

As she wrapped up her speech, she shared with us the very personal story of her son. She began by telling about his name, its significance and history, the hopes she had for him, and how the anticipation of his arrival had impacted her small family. I was immediately  and completely drawn into the story as my own redheads have meaningful name stories and I was enjoying our shared experience until she revealed that her little one had died. No explanation. Just hours after he was born.

While Hanrie spoke music began to play in the background that I could have completely ignored, until she drew our attention to the rhythm, the unmistakeable rhythm of a tiny heartbeat. The song, playing as the soundtrack to her talk, was composed by her cousin, around the music of her son’s in-utero heartbeat. As a mother, my heart broke with hers as she so vulnerably shared her experience. And then, as she was talking about hearing her son’s heartbeat she let a sentence hang in the air:

“That is when I learned that I could love someone that I have never met.”

She ended her speech by connecting her story to the remainder of her keynote, to the heartbeat of our work that sings, and to those we serve that we will never have the chance to know.


  • Do you miss the campus?
  • Do you hate being removed from kids?
  • Don’t you wish you had students of your own?

The truthful answer to all of those questions is “yes”! I do miss it, but I know I am in the right spot.  I have never had a way to fully explain this answer in a way that completely revealed my heart until I heard her speak.

I love each and every one of the students that I serve…I LOVE them (all 55,000 of them). “All of our kids are all of our kids”, is not just a saying. I don’t have to know their names or see their faces to know that I love them. They make me want to get up in the morning, their success wakes me up in the middle of the night, what they need keeps me going.

I always knew that this was true when I was in the classroom and on a campus. I couldn’t wait to see my class list to find out all the kids that would become my own the minute they walked through the door. I loved them before I knew them…and for now, I will love my students even though I may never know them.

And because I love our kids, I love the adults who serve them (all 7,000 of them). They challenge me to learn.  They motivate me to work harder and do more. Their growth and success gets me out the door in the morning.

So for those who I love, but I do not know…I am still learning…

-Ash

Positioning

Sometimes I am taken aback by the arrangement of moments that make up our lives.

Today these two quotes showed up for me, side by side…

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The first quote flashed back at me from my TimeHop…a message to myself from 3 years ago. I know exactly where I was when I posted it-laying beside my grandma in her bed, on day 6 or 7 of being the hospital. I remember seeing the quote and making the decision to choose to be present, to give up on making it better and just make the most of what it was. I embraced her as I embraced the moment.

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The second quote I read for the first time today, posted by my good friend and colleague @mj_teaches. I think I read it twelve times. There is something so right about this sentiment-the butterflies that aren’t in my stomach, a nervous excitement that extends to my core. It requires thoughtful action, but acknowledges uncertainty.

The two quotes together sum up so much of what I am feeling and connect so deeply to the work I am focusing on in my problem of practice for Learning Forward’s Academy.

The focus of our work is not always what we choose. We have to look at the data, examine the evidence, see what is really happening in our district, or department, or campus or classroom. We have to commit to really look beyond the surface, and then fully embrace the work as if it was our CHOICE. We don’t choose our students. We don’t choose their needs. We choose to serve.

And then once we made the choice and have set the course, we step into the experience. We do so with intentionality (logic models and theories of change and SMART goals). We don’t tip toe on the edge, but we fully immerse ourselves in the work, diving into the deep end with our teammates, our teachers, our students, our stakeholders.

We are nervous.  It isn’t comfortable. We feel vulnerable. It feels dangerous. 

But then again…all the best things make me nervous, aren’t comfortable, require vulnerability and are at least a little bit dangerous.

So today, I am recommitting myself to the combination of these quotes: embrace the moment, step in with intentionality, and know that I am doing “something right” as long as I am still learning…

-Ash

 

 

You Need to Breathe

You need to breathe. 

It wouldn’t seem like something that I would need to be reminded of, and yet…even as I write this I have found myself holding my breath.

You need to breathe.

For several years at the beginning of my teaching career it seemed that every fall  I would muddle my way from the end of September all the way through Winter Break with some kind of pneumonia. It would start slow and mild as the leaves changed colors and result in more than one Christmas morning that the memory is more medicinal than merry.

You need to breathe.

During this time in my life I was introduced to a crazy little contraption that you inhale through to measure the depth of your breath. Forcing you to increase your lung capacity. Pushing air into your lungs so you can push it back out again. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Clearing the fluid that is causing the problem. I hate that little thing. It is not fun. It is not comfortable. It is frustrating. It is necessary.

You need to breathe.

Last week I attended the School Reform Initiative Fall Meeting. It is unlike any other conference I attend, and I have looked forward to it all year. Instead of moving from session to session, you are assigned into a learning community that you work with over the course of three days: thinking together, learning with and from each other, examining issues of equity and excellence in education, really listening, and sharing your work for feedback.

It isn’t easy work. It can be challenging and scary to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, throw open the doors to your practice, invite them into the home of your heart to move things around, shake up your routine.

Sometimes this work feels so much to me like that silly, awful, necessary, breathing contraption. It is actually called a Spirometer and its function is to measure the capacity of your lungs and help you learn how to increase it.

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I think that true purpose of the small learning communities (critical friends groups) are to give you a new way to think about your capacity and help you learn how to increase it: Your collaborative capacity. Capacity for compassion, empathy and action. How you listen, engage, respond, stay silent. Your capacity to see the perspective of others, own your truth, commit and recommit to equity and excellence in education. It is not comfortable. It is frustrating. It is necessary. It is wonderful.

I need to breathe.

To stay healthy I have do one of the things that is essential for life, most of the time it is a reflex-but sometimes it requires pause and thought and intentionality. Over the years I have learned to do it without prompting-but I am grateful for those close enough and brave enough to remind me when I️ need to breathe.

I need these experiences in my professional life, just like I needed them in my personal life. This week I am deeply grateful for the closeness and bravery of my learning community (Raquel, Amy, Sebastian, Jean-Jacques Margaret, Andrea, Donna, Jennifer, Susan, Kim, Anissia, Maya, & Lindy)  who not only reminded me, but in many ways taught me how to breathe in a new way.

I feel like I took a “deep cleansing breath”. The kind of breath that centered me and helped me reset. I don’t just need to breathe, I️ AM breathing…and as always…I am still learning.

-Ash

Not My Jam…

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I was reminded the other day by the amazing Mary Swinton that less than a year ago I was standing in the hallway of Sigler Elementary telling Matt Arend that twitter was “not my jam”. I was a Pinterest Girl.

I became a Pinterest Girl because it was a search filter vetted by educators-google became my secondary search engine for things that mattered. A curation of sites and resources and ideas put together by people I followed for easy access. So many THINGS. I have a carefully culled list of educators that I follow, an intentional move-that lets me use their boards and brains as a filter for mine. I have spent an innumerable amount of hours sifting through the THINGS that are collected there.  I use it to grab ideas for non-educational things too…it has truly been my go inspiration for present projects and dreams for the future. If Pinterest was a song, it was on full blast and my windows were down.

Fast forward. Twitter is my new favorite song, and it is on ALL of my playlists…BECAUSE twitter is the Pinterest of PEOPLE!

It wasn’t until a year ago that  I really met twitter, or rather was introduced to tweeters. For me, the power of twitter is not in the THINGS (resources strategies, ideas) you can find using a hashtag, it is in the PEOPLE using the hashtag. Twitter is all about connection. I still have lists of people to follow, but instead of only searching what they have pinned, and I can read what they have penned. I can ask questions. I can get answers. I can connect. Of all the THINGS I found of Pinterest, I never found a new colleague, a new thought-partner, a new friend.

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The truth is-when twitter wasn’t my jam-I hadn’t really given it a fair shake. I had app on my phone, true. I had tweeted at a few conferences. I had participated in one chat. There…now I can say that I tried it. Check.

It makes me wonder, what else would I love if I REALLY tried it. If I really gave it more than just a cursory download. Are there strategies that would be beneficial to my practice if I took the time to reflect on my implementation and refine my skill? What of these aren’t effective until they become habitual?  What do I need to rethink, strategically abandon, or revise my usage?

What I have learned from this year with twitter is that I will be more careful before dismissing anything on face value. I will commit to continued curiosity and intentional inquiry. If I have a choice to connect, I will choose connection. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. People are worth knowing: they have stories to tell, perspective to give, value to add, lessons to teach…and I am still learning.

-Ash

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Get Proximate

Recently I had the privilege of hearing Bryan Stevenson speak about his experiences fighting for justice and equality. Something he said has stuck with me: Get proximate. We can not fix, or understand, or empathize, or show compassion from afar. Get proximate. I have found myself writing it over and over. I am still processing the impact of this call to closeness.

I have been thinking about the ways we use this word, all the forms it takes, the meaning it already has for me.

  • Approximately-close, almost, but not exact.
  • Proximate: something preceding or following, a close cause or effect.
  • Proximal: to get close to.
  • Proximity: closeness

This last one…proximity…I found that it has a lot more meaning for me than I expected.


Proximity Control is one of the first and most powerful strategies I learned as a new teacher. It is a classroom management staple: Student misbehaves-go stand in their general direction. Something looks fishy in the back corner-move to the back corner. Two of your precious people are giving each other the stink-eye…position yourself between them. Proximity control is pro-active and it works. It requires no planning. Just add awareness and a pedometer and you are on your way to a better managed class and your 10,000 steps.

After you have been teaching a minute, you see that this magical, no-fuss strategy also does wonders for assessment of student learning. Want to know if they understand…peek over their shoulder. Wonder if those shoulder partners are on track…listen in. Is what they are writing on target…go look. Thinking he looks confused…go ask. You know so much more about where your kids are, what they are thinking, and how you can support them by moving in, and getting in the “mix with them.

At some point you realize that the teacher desk is not for teaching-and you are wondering why there isn’t mandatory endurance training included in every teacher prep program.

I am not sure when it happened-but I became dependent on proximity-I got to know my students better, knew what they needed from me, and was able to be proactive, creating a positive classroom culture and climate.

When proximity becomes about relationships it stops needing to be about control.

I applied the proximity principle to other areas:

  • I settled myself in the middle of the bus, and my girls and I sang and laughed our way from game to game.
  • I checked in with my principals…every day. #sorrynotsorry
  • I got down on the floor with my boys.
  • I played cards at Burger King with my mother-in-law.
  • I make lots of phone calls, pop-in visits, and send cards.

Stay close. Be near. Share space. Proximity is how we make relationships, how we grow relationships, and how we mend relationships.

I have found that one of the hardest parts of my transition (from classroom to campus, from campus to district, and most recently from small to large district) is the lack of proximity. This is especially challenging in such a large place, as I have always been able to figure out how to get close and stay close to the people that I support and serve. With so many campuses and departments and teachers-how can I possibly get proximate-when there are many times I am not even in the same zip code? This new distance makes every interaction feel that much more important. The stakes are so high when I may not see you again for a month. It is daunting to think I can’t check in and see how you are feeling, hear about your successes, and think through supports with you face to face.
So what I lack in proximity, I am trying to make up for in availability and accessibility. I can’t be near to everyone, but I will come when you call. I will do my best to return email, answer the phone (call my cell), get to meetings early, stay late to answer questions, and find ways to connect. The third thing I am committed to is being authentic-I genuinely want to help and support and serve, my enthusiasm to that end is not an act: I am a speed talking, hugger, who loves people and wants to be a part of your team. My hope is that the distance won’t divide, and even when I can’t see your face, you will be able to hear my heart.

Get available.
Get accessible.
Get authentic.

It doesn’t have the same ring as “get proximate”, but I am still working on it, and I am still learning…

*Bryan Stevenson is the author of Just Mercy. You can check out his work, and his challenge for us to “Get Proximate” here: Equal Justice Initiative 

Reflection Isn’t For Wimps

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Wouldn’t it be nice if being a reflective person were easy? A quick look in the mirror of your mind to reveal every thing in order, or easily covered or corrected. Can’t fix it on your own-no worries…we can always use a filter for the pictures! Unfortunately, when taking a really close look at anything in real life-there are no quick fixes or snapchat filters. The full picture isn’t always clear at first, and when it is I don’t always know what to do with what I see, but without fail, when the picture fully develops I always feel a sense of simultaneous relief and amazement that I didn’t or couldn’t see it clearly before.

There are times that I feel like reflection is following me. The kind of “following” that would entice a police report if it were human, or at least initiate the purchase of a new can of mace. It isn’t pleasant. It is nagging, and uncomfortable, and sometimes scary. This kind of thought stalking reflection borders on perseveration, and I have to be intentional to set aside time, investigate, arrest and interrogate the thoughts fully and then close the case. Reflection is powerful-but when it gives way to worry or anxiety, everyone loses. When I can pin down the thought stalker, these reflections are often game changers for me. They require me to re-evaluate, redefine, and revise my practice or my perspective.

Other times reflection is fast and fun: That worked, this didn’t, never again, do this better, don’t forget this activity. This kind of reflective practice is more like adjusting a recipe: needs more salt, maybe try a different kind of cheese, add this to the rotation, next time-less kale, let’s be honest-always less kale. These reflections are adjustments, tweaks & keeps-they don’t shift paradigm, but they are necessary for forward momentum and intentional growth.

But whether reflection approaches as a “thought stalker”, a “quick fix”, or a some kind of mutation of the two-there is always a catalyst. I was going to say that I don’t usually trip into reflection-but that is EXACTLY what happens.

So many times I stumble across an article, a quote, or a new idea in a resource. Often a colleague or friend will say something without realizing how brilliant they are, or how they have completely stopped me in my tracks. The other day I was sitting in a professional learning session and the facilitator lead a protocol in a way that made me totally rethink a grouping strategy.

I love it when reflections are more like skipping. Those times when the day is amazing. A day so good you have to say it slow. A-MAZ-ING. A lesson that you wish you could rewind and record for posterity. A high-five after the breakthrough you have been working on with the kid-that makes you know that more high fives are possible.

And sometimes, I actually trip. Something comes up that I don’t expect, or I didn’t see coming, or I can’t predict. There are times I react or respond in a way I hadn’t planned or doesn’t set well or could have gone better. Reflections that start here are hard. I hope you can hear me say that slowly as well. HAAARRRDDDD. I am not sure how you process set- backs, but I spent the first half of my life trying/failing/pretending to be perfect, so this gets messy for me at times.

However I get there, and however I do it-for me all reflective roads lead to one place: GROWTH.

  • Sometimes that starts by admitting I don’t know the answer and digging in to new learning.
  • A lot of times I have to try it again.
  • Revise, Revise, Revise-get the feedback from people you trust.
  • Sometimes I need to apologize.
  • Step back and look at it from someone else’s point of view.
  • Ask questions.
  • Often I need some coaching.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

What is true every time, is that it is different every time, and I have to be open to the reflective process.  I am committed to being reflective-in my practice, in my parenting, in my relationships, in my life. What I know…is that I don’t have all the answers and I am not going to get it all right-but I am still learning…

-Ash

Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending -- to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I w (2).png