Photo Credit: Laura Stockman

Summer is a time unto itself. In our family, we draw deep boundaries around the months of June, July, and August. The rhythm of our life together changes, and while the pace never seems to slow, the content of our days becomes distinctly different. It’s a disruption I long for every year–one that seems to slow me down and wake me up simultaneously. Sometimes, this feels unsettling.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve been grappling with a bunch of new realities, opportunities, and shifts in my own perspectives. I’ve found myself rethinking what it means to learn and teach and lead in ways that make even the smallest difference, and much of this has given me significant pause. I’m still thinking through a bunch of this stuff.

Four years ago, I found myself compelled to step away from the podium that I was invited to stand behind most days of the week. I founded a professional learning community comprised of learners of all ages. I joined another. I began shaping a very clear vision of the work that I wanted to do and the sort of change I wanted to be a part of. This has been exciting and overwhelming work, and it’s brought me to a new place once again.

This summer, my daughter Laura has invested herself in a new project. She’s studying digital photography, learning more about creating content online, and throwing herself into an internship that allows her to share what she’s learning with others who might benefit from it. I’m learning a lot by watching her. Last month, I found myself intrigued by this picture–one of the first that she took. She’s been compelled by the influence that her perspective and position as a photographer has on the images that she captures. We’ve spent some time talking about this over the last few weeks, and I’m finding myself connecting our conversations to my own work.

On Sunday, I’ll be heading to the Communities for Learning summer retreat once again. Five days later, I’ll return to my family filled with new ideas and feeling, I know, completely wrung out. It’ll be worth it.

Whenever the topic of professional learning comes up and the topic professional learning communities in particular, we begin speaking about the importance of vision. Establishing our own. Aligning it to the work of the organizations we serve and the vision of those we call our colleagues. As I’ve learned more about professional learning communities over the years–especially as I’ve invested myself in facilitating one—I’ve realized that visioning work is perhaps the most critical work that we do. I’ve also realized that as a leader, it’s not enough for me to have a vision that I impose on others. This does little to create or sustain professionalism, community, or learning.

How I position myself within my learning communities is important. It influences my perspective. It shapes my vision.

Laura has spent the last few months taking pictures from inside the garden.

That’s where I’ve been too.

It’s changing everything.

Not sure what that means yet, but I’m looking forward to finding out.



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