Friday, June 8, 2018

What do you wish?

It's 4:57 pm on the OFFICIAL last day of school.  Today I had the honor of hosting five students -- three of whom graduated on Wednesday, but can't seem to really leave our hallowed halls -- who were invited by the District Office Administration to lead three separate 45 minute Professional Development Sessions for the secondary level teachers in our district.  

Yes, we have administrators who recognize that two days of snow turned our regularly-scheduled PD days into Snow Makeup Days, and added those days to the end of the year, after the caps and gowns were donned, and textbooks were packed away were going to be particularly brutal with a traditional format for In-service Training.   These last two days were the most refreshing and enlightening teacher training experiences -- and every single teacher seemed to echo that thought as they headed into summer at the end of today.   (Don't believe me?  Search #DSDJune78).  (Other sessions included Breakout,Edu, Team Building - with water balloons???, and other experiences that engaged and excited even the most grumpy and critical PD attenders.)

Armed with a single question, and packs of Post it Notes, my team of students went in search of an answer to a single question:

What do you wish teachers knew about you?

They queried junior high and high school students in the last ten days of school.  They the answers, looked for common themes, giggled over answers like "I have six toes," and "No matter what you say, I will always be eating in class," and sobbed over "My father is an alcoholic,"  and "I try harder than it looks like I am."

My role was to sit in the room and be the responsible adult.  (Sometimes this is harder than it looks, especially for me.)

I've been on the teaching end of PD, and it's not easy.  Especially with secondary level teachers, who all have at least six other places where they wish they could be to be doing something of greater importance than the perceived required session.  The teachers were engaged.  They listened intently.  They mind-mapped.  They scrutinized the Post it Notes with great focus, synthesized their learning into great questions, and asked questions of the student panel for the remaining 30 minutes.  Each session contained administrators, both building level and district office level, in addition to the teachers, including the Superintendent in the second session. 

Three of them gave up senior exemption days, when they could have slept in to prepare for this day, and returned, two days after graduation, to present. One gave up his "last day of summer" (keeping in mind that YESTERDAY was his FIRST day of summer), because he's going to be working every single day for the rest of the summer as a Scout Leader in an overnight camp.  

They were compensated in pizza at lunch, and Rita's Water Ice on the way out the door.

I am blessed beyond measure to work with students who are not only passionate about their own learning, but care enough to give of themselves to share their passions with a bunch of teachers who would have been watching the clock and waiting for the end of the day, had they not been so engaging in their thoughts.

I came home to thank you notes from two students - one of whom was part of today's experience.  Indulge me when I share a line from each: 

"I promise to passionately pursue life and share with others selflessly every day."   

"You taught me to find a career that you love, that way work never feels like a job."

Thanks to these kids, and the teaching position I have been gifted, I have the opportunity to fulfill these goals every single day.  I am confident that the three graduates are going off to change the world -- because they've already proven to me that they have the power and strength -- and I am lured back to school in August to work with the remaining two, and many of their classmates.  Because thanks to my district and my students, I don't ever have a JOB.

Happy Rejuvenation, Happy Summer!

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