Last night I was reminded of a pd (professional development), I did a few years back for a group of teachers. In an effort to help teachers increase both academic impact and learner retention using multiple modalities to assist with the development of neural pathways, I came up with something I thought would work for them. To avoid bombarding them with a lot of technical jargon and what can be perceived as research too distant from the “true” classroom setting, I opted to reflect on my childhood. I felt this approach would reach teachers on a level they could easily access regardless of where they were in the profession. The imagery of the pd went something like this:
I’m from a small town in rural north Louisiana, back home there was not a lot to do nor were there many options when it came to schools. In town, there we two public schools and one private school. Perhaps understanding the limits this put on me, my mom took to investing a great deal of time in me, a practice I missed when times changed. Anyway, my family always had a puzzle set up somewhere, my Mom always read to me, and at times she played a brain teaser or two. Initially, I would tinker around with the puzzle on the table until I was bored with it or tired of being fussed at for mixing up the sorted pieces, or my mom would read to me, I heard the same stories repeatedly, after a while I had memorized them. I knew every word that should be said on a particular page, something my grandmother was not too fond of on days when she was not trying to be bothered with my incessant push for story after story. I guess I must have been about 4.
Anyway, my mom had this book of brain teasers she would pull out at times and I was captivated by them. I would stand over her shoulder as she sat and worked on them and ask a bazillion questions. I was a very inquisitive child and I asked question after question (a trait I still have by the way). I’m guessing this must have either frustrated my mom or excited her because she bought me my own book of brain teasers that I breezed through and eventually worked my way up to adult level books. What my mom had systematically done, be it by chance or intentionally, was help my growing brain build neural pathways. These pathways were strengthened by constant challenges and finding that the same routes would not always work, so sometimes a new path had to be created. Whenever I got frustrated my mom would re-direct my attention and help me past my frustration. She never took the stress from me, instead she taught me better ways to navigate the stress of having to persist.
As I sit here today, that simple word encourages me. I know how to persist, I have met very few problems that stumped me to the point that I totally abandoned them. I figure every problem has a solution and if it evades me, I simply have not found the right vantage point. Sometimes, to see that angle I have to walk away and do something else and come back to it, sometimes it takes simply closing my eyes and letting out a roar of exasperation, regardless of how I arrive at the answer, that lesson from my mom has persisted into my adult life. It helps me in my daily walk, it has truly served me as a student, and in the workplace. As a mom it has kept me from always rushing to the rescue when my children need me. Although, at times it is painful not to help, allowing them to “overcome” their own obstacles empowers them and reassures me they are headed in the right direction.
Today I hope this encourages you to persist beyond whatever is frustrating you, I have no clue how difficult the task ahead of you is, but I am certain if you choose not to throw in the towel you will be successful.
Until next time…PERSIST!