Have you ever been on a 'ride along'? A 'ride along' is an opportunity in your local community to ride along with a police officer on his or her shift. In my city, if you are a resident, you can call the police station, pick a shift, and join a police officer to see how they do their work. If you haven't, I encourage you to do it. Seeing how someone else sees the world, what they are looking for, what is important to them and how they engage with others is really enlightening – especially when you are with a man or woman in uniform whose goal is to protect citizens and he or she is carrying firearms. It's not my average day at work.
I have been thinking about 'ride alongs' lately because, in some way, I am organizing them for teachers, administrators and myself. I am shadowing nurses in their interactions with patients and I am designing peer observations for teachers and principals. They are all 'ride alongs' in some form – watching others do their jobs - and if you watch and listen really closely you learn far more than you thought you would.
The 'ride along' I didn't plan going on was at Glide Memorial Church this past Sunday and it is the subject of this newsletter. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
Ride Alongs – Pull Up a Folding Chair and Just Listen
In San Francisco there is a place in the Tenderloin neighborhood called Glide. Glide is a Methodist Church, but it is also a place that feeds the homeless, shelters children and families, provides medical support, offers counseling, marches for social justice, and is the glue of the community. It was featured in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, with Will Smith. It also offers an amazing Sunday 'Celebration' complete with gospel music that moves your soul. Which is why when I need a little 'adjustment,' I drive up to Glide. It is a place, as the founder, Reverend Cecil Williams, says that affirms and welcomes everybody. Last Sunday, along with several hundred others I 'rode along' while Reverend Cecil Williams did his work. Unexpected to all of us, even to him.
As another pastor, Karen Oliveto, was preaching that morning, a woman in the pews was agitated. Squirming a bit and mumbling under her breath, the woman was moving in her seat. Others were finding it a bit distracting, moving away from her, indicating with their gestures that they were uncomfortable. A Glide employee came over. There was a bit of discussion. A security guard came over to whisper in the woman's ear. Another bit of rustling. At some point another staff member brought over a folding chair, placed it next to the pew, and sat there next to the woman hoping his presence would quiet her down. The preaching continued in some sort of parallel universe.
Cecil, who understands what it means to be a Chief Experience Officer in his bones, stood up. "Is everything alright down there?" The response was "No, this woman is disrespecting Karen." Cecil walked down the stairs, off the pulpit, into the sanctuary, and took a seat in the folding chair. I don't recall him saying a word. Karen stopped preaching. The woman began to talk to Cecil, who was looking at her, arm around her pew. Everyone started listening. A different sermon started.
Four minutes or so in all. We heard phrases. Family not around. Family dead. Everyone around her disrespecting her. Trying to push her around. Not having anyone. Cecil listened. We all listened. At some point, a piano was played. The choir began singing softly. Low volume, low notes. And I saw the woman stop talking, hug Cecil and she quietly began to listen to the choir.
Cecil stayed there until Celebration was over and when it finished I whispered to him, "Thank you for the sermon." Walking out of the building, I saw the woman sitting on the street. I bent down and thanked her for her sermon. With one tooth in her upper gum, she looked at me smiling and said, "I never made a speech before." I said, "Well, you found your voice today." She said, "I sure did."
Everyone needs a good listening to. Students, teachers, nurses, patients, parents, principals, everybody. This 'ride along' taught me there are times to get off my pulpit, pull up a folding chair and just listen.
Do You Suffer from Decision Fatigue? by John Tierney
Great article about energy, willpower and ego depletion that might help you make sense as to why you need to serve food at your district office meetings so good thinking can occur.
What if the Secret to Success is Failure? by Paul Tough
A wonderful prompt for discussion as to what type of character traits we should be teaching our students and what type of character traits will make them successful.
In research for my Generational Savvy book, I found this site and this video. Thinking I might need to write in for advice and see what the elders say!
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!
Having Hard Conversations
Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic District School Board
Napanee, Ontario, Canada
Mentoring 101 and Being Generationally Savvy
Ottawa Catholic District School Board
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Being the Chief Experience Officer in Your Classroom
JL Stanford Middle School
Palo Alto Unified School District
Palo Alto, CA
Communicating Effectively with Millennials
Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
Student Advocacy: Finding Your Voice for Effective Dialogue with Your Child's Teachers and with Your Students' Parents
The Innovative Learning Conference
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 www.jenniferabrams.com