Monday, October 15, 2012

Shared Leadership

For several years, I have had grand ideas about implementing a shared leadership model at our organization, an idea that was precipitated by our loss of federal funding and our elimination of all office staff. But, even though shared leadership makes fiscal sense, it is a complicated idea in the workplace, as it requires so many things that are difficult for us as human beings: trust, collaboration, cooperation, letting go of control, listening, and being flexible and amiable. Tonight, after a lot of dreaming and even more hard work and team building, we held our first-ever Executive Board meeting that was a working meeting under the shared leadership model. Normally, you would find us, a group of 15 or so teachers, sitting around a large conference table, discussing items on an agenda and coming up with ideas to table for later. Tonight, I was twenty minutes late to the meeting. But, when I walked through the door to the RI Writing Project, folks were in their groups, working on the projects they chose to tackle. They were working with their updated To Do lists; some were at computers, some in conference rooms. The place was humming like a beehive. Groups of teachers were planning our spring conference, writing a new vision statement, developing our Facebook page, and planning our summer writing camp for 2013. I moved from group to group, offering feedback and lots of praise. After an hour and a half, an incredible amount of work had been accomplished, and everyone felt, I believe, happy. 

Folks had smiles on their faces as they said "goodbye." They felt useful, content. So did I.

Doing, instead of sitting. Creating, instead of following. Envisioning, instead of ignoring. These are the things teachers need. 

I love my work and am so grateful to work with the smart, capable Writing Project teachers in Li'l Rhody.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October is for Writing

It has been raining for days. A whole week, I think. And, this morning, thankfully, I can see patches of blue sky busting through the clouds, which are moving higher and farther away. This soggy, dark October still has plenty of time to show us its beauty, as I discovered when I was walking my dog today. For the first time since school has started, I found myself, this morning, finally noticing Nature all around me: the bright fireworks display of the maple trees in my neighborhood; the flurry of squirrels and chipmunks collecting and storing and preparing; the smell of autumn, that rich wet-leaf sangria that smells like apple cider and maple and sweet berry wine. One of the most inspiring phenomena to me, as a writer, is the natural world, and yet, I so often forget to notice it because I am scurrying and rushing and way too focused on my tasks and my to do lists.

But, this morning I remembered my sabbatical. I remembered that I pledged to myself to take time, to make time for Nature, as she so often calms me down and reminds me that everything is cyclical, that everything has its rhythms, that everything has its time. She also inspires me to be a writer in a way that nothing else can. Nature demands that I notice her, even when I'm too busy or too preoccupied. And, when her demands finally sink in, and when I pick my head up and look up--at the sky, at the tiptops of trees, at the hawks flying above, at the shapeshifting cumulus clouds--I am struck my emotion, by the flood of the feeling that everything is connected and that life persists, regardless.

This is how Nature inspires me to write. She makes me feel, deeply, and then I feel compelled to put down on paper how a little feeling can just rise up inside of me at the sight of a magnificent maple tree in its glorious red and orange autumn costume. I feel compelled to make a mark in my notebook that isn't inspired by anger or confusion or passion but one that is fueled by and inspired by an uncontrollable joy and awe of something much, much bigger than us, than any of our petty worries or battles.

The power and beauty of Nature is right before your eyes, right now, in its full splendor here in New England. Can you see it? Does it inspire you to write?