Jennifer Abrams -Consultancy that informs, inspires, and empowers VOICE
August 2011

I spent the summer 'getting away.'  I went on vacation to wonderful locations (Big Sur!), and I traveled outside my home base of education into the worlds of theater and medicine. Getting away from ‘home’ can be a challenge, and yet the discoveries so worthwhile.  By moving myself and my work into the fields of health care and the arts I have new ways of seeing.  And I have a deep awareness that no matter the day-to-day 'expression of our work,' all of us, artists, nurses and educators, help others to find their voice, to grow and to heal. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at I look forward to hearing from you!

Redefining Our Work - Inspiration from Medicine and the Arts

Definition of a Dramaturg

This July I spent time at the Kennedy Center participating as a new board member of the National New Play Network as NNPN ran their summer MFA Playwrights’ Workshop. Theater professionals from all over the country came to support six new playwrights as they brought their plays more fully into being.  The playwrights were connected with a director, a dramaturg, other support staff and a cast of actors. After one week of amazing collaboration, we experienced a reading of their work.  Of all of the parts people played during the week, the role that intrigued me most was that of dramaturg. We don't have dramaturgs in the teaching profession or do we?  In a nutshell, a new play dramaturg has three roles. One - to be a champion for the play itself.  Two - to be a brainstorming partner for the playwright.  Three - to be a liaison between the audience and the play.  If done well, the dramaturg is a coach, a muse, a healer, a connector and much more. We who are leaders at any level in our organization or school might consider ourselves as resident dramaturgs - champions of the work we are trying to do, brainstorming partners for our colleagues, and liaisons between our schools and the ‘audiences’ we work with - students, families, communities.  

Code Lavender & Creating Healing Environments

As I walked into a hospital last week a Life Line helicopter was landing on the roof, most likely bringing a trauma patient to receive care.  As I saw the helicopter I instinctively said a Jewish prayer of healing, the Mi Sheberach.  Just an hour later, in the middle of my discussion with a nurse, I mentioned my response to seeing the helicopter and she said, "Oh, you responded just like one would in a ‘Code Lavender. ‘ In certain hospitals when there is a need for healing, an announcement comes on the loudspeaker - Code Lavender.  The room number is mentioned and those who hear it send healing intentions to that room."  We continued to talk about creating healing environments. Healing that takes into consideration the quality of care during the entire hospital stay- the daily interactions between nurses and patients, the bedside communications of physicians and the design of rooms and hallways. (Even O Magazine's September issue has a 'Room for Recovery' article about this very topic!)

Some hospitals have someone in the position of Chief Experience Officer.  Someone who absolutely understands the medicine and the operations of a hospital, yet also thinks beyond the science and routines into the whole experience of the patient from admissions to discharge. Someone who is in tune with how language, non-verbals, tone, question asking, rapport building and environment also support healing. 

As we start the new school year and students come back to our classrooms and our schools, I think we should all consider ourselves Chief Experience Officers, creating identity safe environments for all of our educators, families and students.

Cool Resources

As I am adding personal coaching clients to my work, I was doing some research and found Coaching for Results (aka Coaching School Results).  They have an amazing cadre of coaches, trainings and resources, including an iPhone App for coaching!  Their blog and newsletter, with an article this month on positive presuppositions, kick started me in a great direction.  Check them out!

In my work with Having Hard Conversations and Generational Savvy, I am always 'looking for language' to describe cogently what it means to be a professional. Learning Forward has put out Standards for Professional Learning that will assist all of us in articulating a piece of what we mean when we speak of what it takes to be a professional in our schools. "The professional learning that occurs when these standards are fully implemented enrolls educators as active partners in determining the content of their learning, how their learning occurs, and how they evaluate its effectiveness. The standards give educators the information they need to take leadership roles as advocates for and facilitators of effective professional learning and the conditions required for its success."

Upcoming Events

Each month I will share with you information about a few of my upcoming trainings.
If I am going to be in your area, contact me so we can say hello, hopefully in person!

August 24
Having Hard Conversations
Center for Professional Development and Education
Stanford Hospitals and Clinics

August 29-30
Having Hard Conversations & Creating Identity Safe Classrooms
Vision to Practice Conference
Greater Essex County District School Board
Windsor, Ontario

September 1-2
Observation Skills & Equity-Focused Mentoring
Math for America
New York, New York

September 14
Having Hard Conversations - Part II
Principals' Training
Los Angeles Unified School District - Local District 5
Los Angeles, CA

September 22
Strategies & Tactics for Designing Engaging Seminars
BTSA Professional Developers
Monterey County Office of Education
Salinas, CA

For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.

Until next time,


Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleague. You may reprint this newsletter in whole or quote with attribution to Jennifer Abrams and a link to

Top of Page

In this Issue:

Past Issues:

© 2011 Jennifer Abrams | Email Jennifer | 4290 Wilkie Way #L, Palo Alto, CA 94306 |  (650) 858-0699