Thinking Time



Thinking: The talking of the soul with itself ~ Plato


The other day my secretary and I had a conversation about the differences between men and women which culminated in her statement that "men and women just think differently". I asked her what she meant by that and her response was "when I drive to work I'm thinking about what to make for dinner, what I have waiting for me at my desk, what my daughter is doing today. My husband, when asked what he thinks about on his way to work is nothing". Needless to say that had me thinking not only about what I think about when I drive to work but about those time that I find myself thinking deeply about something. 

I'm trying to be more mindful. It is something I have been working on since September as I read Mindful Leadership by Maria Gonzalez. As I drove home from school that day I realized that I do a lot of thinking in my car. My drive is about 35 minutes, mostly outside of the city with long stretches of road with no stop lights or major traffic. I've come to realize that I reflect about the recent events at school and pressing matters that consume most the majority of my day. But what is really interesting is that until I started applying some mindfulness to my drive I may have answered the same way as my secretary's husband did. Is there a difference between how men and women think? Absolutely! Does that mean that men don't think deeply? I don't think so. Maybe it's just a case of not being mindful during those times when thinking happens. 

I've also found myself thinking deeply when I'm out taking pictures. Photography is an outlet for me. I love taking my camera and heading out to different spots around where I live and capturing anything that catches my eye. It's during these outings that I'm able to let go of any tension or pressing deadlines and just focus on being present. I've learned to keep my phone or a notebook with me during these times to make a record of things that pop into my head. Blog topics, different photography shoot locations, ideas for student projects and ways to improve my leadership are examples of things that I've recorded during photo shoots. However, if I think back to when I wasn't practicing mindfulness I most likely would have forgotten about those ideas that popped into my head and just went on with my day, answering the question "what do you think about on the way to work?" with "nothing".

Everyone has something that they use as a release from the stress and tension of the work day. It may even lead to thinking on a deeper level. For me being more mindful in everything I do is helping. It's a journey that I am learning lots about myself. I'd be willing to bet that if you took the time to learn about being mindful you'd find yourself thinking deeply and remembering those thoughts clearly. I'd love to hear about where you find yourself thinking deeply. Or what passions or hobbies give you those moments of reflection. 

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  • Once again, you've chosen a topic that is so relevant to many of us, whether we are in a leadership role or not. I agree with your secretary in that men and women think differently and I have been guilty of accusing some of the men in my life about "not thinking", when in fact they are just thinking differently. And ultimately, in most cases, their perspective has added an additional layer to a conversation or a project.
    Just yesterday I was chatting with a colleague about "reflection", as I'm currently inviting each of my staff members (Coordinators, TOSAs and coaches) in for a mid-year check-in. Its' an opportunity for them to reflect on what they have accomplished so far this year and what their goals are for the remainder of the year. Within our conversation we talked about how, in our busy lives, we rarely take the time to stop and "reflect/think" as we are so involved in finishing up one project and gearing up for the next one. And yet, it is in those moments of reflection that we may stumble upon an idea, a strategy or a plan of action which will have great benefits for us and the people with whom we work.
    I find that I do my best thinking/reflecting when I'm near a body of water. There is something about the sound of waves washing up on the shore and the gentle ripples on the water which brings peace to my "busy" mind.

    Reflection is also a strong component of the Collaborative Inquiry cycle. We are encouraging teachers to stop and reflect not only on evidence of student learning, but on evidence of their own learning in order to inform next steps.

    As leaders do we purposefully build in time for reflection? Do we encourage our educators to find those places which allow them to stop and reflect ~ whether behind the lens of a camera or walking along the beach?

  • David

    Thanks for commenting Sue. You always bring something important to the conversation. Purposefully building in reflection time is something we must consider, especially during the collaborative inquiry cycle. I'm confident that if we provide the time and encourage teachers to think about their students needs, their progress, their success or failure of their work will have a positive impact on their own learning.

    Thanks again