Guest Post via @ReadersLeadPD: The Power of Passion and Perserverance

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other. “ –Walter Elliot.  This quote defines how three freshman students (#FalconPride) from Carl Hayden High School, inner city Phoenix, AZ taught teachers on a Saturday AM STEAM Professional Development session.  

Phoenix Union High School district hosts professional development showcases of best practices.  It’s a time for sharing knowledge, networking, and connecting within our profession.  Our content specialist, Ms. Ann Murray, creates a menu of topics generated from audience participation.  Today, I was able to extend a STEAM class with three students that were “hired!”  I use the term “hired” lightly, as community service hours were granted, and of course, all the pancakes and popcorn they could digest on a Saturday morning.  

Prior to our session start time, I took a moment to pause and reflect on their on time, attendance, numerous requests.  “Come on, we have to get our room set up! Bring your keys Ms. Cat, we have to move NOW!”   As we walked from the high school cafeteria to our assigned room 211, questions were rapid fire by my hired crew of 3 frosh students.

“Will the teachers see our STEAM poster?

What campuses are the teachers from?”

“Will that nice lady who likes peppermints be here again?”

“We want to start the popcorn so we have plenty of food for them all!”   We were shifting grocery bags, ice tea, and water jugs as we walked the narrow pathway across campus.  

“What are these yellow flowers for?”

“The yellow spider mums,” I replied, “are to decorate our learning space. We want the teachers to feel welcome and happy,” I explained.  At the end of the session, the hired students would pass them out to their favorite teacher, question assisted & solved.

The students’ passion reminds me of the first day of school and all the questions that we as teachers have.  I answer their questions as fast as I can.  I communicate to them that I am so proud of them to come on a Saturday morning, and their passion to have their parents drive them to campus at 7:30 AM on a Saturday.  I let them know, I read a book titled “Kids Deserve It” and they certainly would be on the front cover for their choices as lead teachers assistance.  I then reflect, #Kids Deserve It inspired this risk, using student assistance to obtain buy-in using technology in our lesson designs.  Alice Keeler’s quick wit gives me the reassurance to keep inventing, use Google, and tweet /ask questions when doubting the “what if..” Do not be a coward, step away from the worksheets!

At the same time, I am exercising emotional intelligence thanks to “Escaping the Dunk Tank” by Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter.  We are breaking rules on this Saturday PD session. I hired 3 frosh demonstrating #booksnaps (Tara Martin) & holograms/ “peppers ghost illusions” (Tony Vincent).  Sharing knowledge and perseverance, we are confident this small step demonstrates how we apply one of many strategies from the book “Teach Like a Pirate” will promote student ownership in our lesson designs.  This was our second session with hired student teacher assistance. Sarah Thomas gave me the courage to blog.  Her proofreading and let’s get tweeting regardless of the miles from Washington DC to Phoenix AZ, we collaborate and have built trust. 

We (educators in the trenches/field) are taking small steps with progressive ideas.  The progressive ideas are inspired by a collage from a professional learning network (PLN).  Have the passion to connect and join a PLN. You will gain the satisfaction of being a warrior.  GShare some best practices.  We all have your backs and maybe a micro-badging yellow spider mum.  

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