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Learn and Lead Podcast

The Learn and Lead Podcast is for educators, by educators, and we want to bring the world of Arizona public education to you and our thousands of members across the state. Our objective is to provide a platform for the voices of our educator leaders along with some amazing community allies and have conversations about those education topics that are on everyone’s mind.
Published: November 3, 2023 Last Updated: April 9, 2024

Recent episodes have covered AI in public education, tips for first year teachers, making sure LGBTIA+ students feel seen and safe in our schools, book banning bills and how they impact our schools, and more. 

Never miss an episode! Subscribe to the Learn and Lead Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, AnchorFM, Castbox, or on your favorite podcast app. 

Season 2 - Episode 13: Putting a Face On It

In this episode, we're joined by AEA Deputy Director Joaquin Rios who is talking about the educators at the capitol events we host every spring break, how they went this year, and the purpose of these types of organizing opportunities. Even more exciting is that Carrie gets to tell the cheesy joke this episode... ok, it's only exciting to her, but the conversation around what educators were able to share with legislators is worth a listen!

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Season 2 - Episode 12: Love of School

In this episode, we're excited to share some play-based learning examples, tips, and stories from the marvelous Kelley Fisher. As a Kinder teacher in Deer Valley Education Association, she has incorporated play into her curriculum her entire career, and she shares her insights in how prioritizing this kind of learning could be the answer to post-COVID learning!

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Season 2 - Episode 11: Teacher Math

Math instruction has changed so much over the past 5 years, and so many educators are trying to meet the times with new approaches! We had math teacher Maria McDowell from Phoenix Union Classroom Teachers Association join us to talk about how she builds math literacy, helps students relate to math content, and takes thinking deeper than just getting the right answer. This episode isn't one to miss if you love cheesy math puns!

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Season 2 - Episode 10: Changing the Narrative

As you may have heard, our union is growing, and it's all thanks to the work of our incredible local leaders – like Mesa EA President Kelly Berg. She's the local President in the largest school district in the state, and we brought her on to talk about how she's been engaging in membership blitzes, building member capacity to take action, and taking back the narrative about schools in her district.

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Season 2 - Episode 9: Good for Wall Street Not for Main Street

This very special episode before Thanksgiving features the President of UFCW 99 - Jim McLaughlin. He's joining us to talk about the awesome work of their union, the pending merger between Kroger and Albertsons, and what the merger means for the future of grocery stores and communities in Arizona. It's a conversation about union solidarity and workers' rights that we hope will inspire you as much as it inspired us!

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Season 2 – Episode 8: Let’s Get This Bread

It's everyone's favorite time of year—election time! We invite Ellie Perez Pawloski back to the podcast to talk bonds, overrides, and federally endorsed candidates. Bonds and overrides can be a complicated funding question to explain to voters, but our members are carrying the lion's share of the action in making sure our schools can continue to make repairs, keep programs and people going, and purchase updated equipment. Listen in as she talks about the process for how candidates are endorsed, who has been endorsed so far, and why they were endorsed.

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Season 2 – Episode 7: Union Trivia

Sydney Knight—an early career educator from Washington District EA—joined us to talk about her experience getting involved in her union as someone new to the profession, and we played union trivia! How many can you get right?

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Season 2 – Episode 6: Bring It On, Trolls

Emily Kirkland is the AEA Communications Director, and she has some tips and tricks for educators who are using social media to advocate for a free, quality, public education for all students! We hope you'll laugh as much as we did.

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Season 2 – Episode 5: Retired from My Position, Not My Profession

In this episode, we invited AEA-Retired President Anna Cicero to share what it's like to be a retired educator, what AEA-Retired does, and tips for future retirees!.

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Season 2 – Episode 4: Not An Empty Vessel

In this episode, we talked to two amazing educators who work with multilingual staff and students to find out what some of the best strategies are for meeting the needs of this diverse group of students. Lupita Almanza, our AEA Bilingual Content Creator, and Dr. Barbie Firkus, member leader in Washington District EA, share their stories, tips, and perspective on how we can all work to create more language-inclusive spaces.

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Season 2 – Episode 3: We All Want to Be Ourselves

This week, we talked to Josh Atkins — leader in Paradise Valley EA — about how he works to support LGBTQIA+ educators and students in his roles at a local, state, and national level. He shares compelling advice and perspective that everyone needs to hear!

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Season 2 – Episode 2: Remaining Teachable

We're proud to introduce you to our new AEA Legal Counsel — Wil Comer! Meet Wil, learn about his background, hear his passion for education, and listen to how he sees his role of supporting educators across Arizona.

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Season 2 – Episode 1: Not A Moment But A Movement

We're kicking off season 2 with AEA President Marisol Garcia talking about some big wins from last year and some big fights coming up for us next year - and as always, grounding us in what it means to be in a union and in education.

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Season 1 – Episode 15: See Educators Run

November seems like a long way away, but it'll be here before you know it! So we brought on Kerry Baker to talk about what it's like to be an educator on a school board and find out what kinds of resources exist for future candidates who are considering running - highlighting an NEA program called "See Educators Run" that uplifts educator voices running for office.

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Season 1 – Episode 14: You Are Not Alone

With everything going on in the world right now, we know educators are having conversations about trauma-sensitive practices! Whether you are in a classroom teaching or are one of our incredible education support professionals, you can have a powerful impact on students by just knowing what to do when you identify students in crisis and what you can do beforehand to create spaces that are healing and strength-based. It's important that you also take time to take care of you. But how?

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Season 1 – Episode 13: Censored

Julie Lillie was all set to present at the most recent Arizona Department of Education conference until a week before her training, she received an email saying her session was cancelled and her subject-matter was no longer in line with the goals of the department. She wasn't the only one. We brought Julie in to talk about what it was that she was planning on presenting, what the experience was like for her to receive that email, & her experience with Social Emotional Learning.

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Season 1 – Episode 12: A Profession that is Mostly Women

In honor of Women's History Month, this week, we dove into the details of the Family Medical Leave Act, family planning in this profession, & ways we can stand up for each other as women in this profession. We have a lot of work still to do, but we are stronger together!

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Season 1 – Episode 11: Down the Rabbit Hole

Join us down the technology rabbit hole. This week, Amber & Carrie, are just chatting educator-to-educator about the pros and cons of Artificial Intelligence in the classroom like adaptive education programs, ChatGPT, & more! We even interviewed ChatGPT itself about some pressing issues like pizza toppings. Check out what we had to say, and then tell us what you think about this topic on Spotify's Q&A!

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Season 1 – Episode 10: Hope

We asked 3 members to share their experience creating Microcredential PD on climate issues for educators across the country & about their passion for climate justice & how it fits into the work we do as educators. One message shines through - "Hope." Hope for the future. Hope for communities coming together. Hope for the impact we can have on one another.

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Season 1 – Episode 9: Breaking Down the State of the State

This episode we heard from Governor Katie Hobbs what she wanted the state's priorities to be under her term, and she spoke a lot about education! We brought in AEA President Marisol Garcia to break down what this means for AZ educators and this legislative session. There was so much to talk about!

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Season 1 – Episode 8: It’s a Gift!

Winter can be a stressful time of the year with so many cultures celebrating holidays or swapping gifts. Picking out the right gift can be overwhelming, so we compiled a list of book gift recommendations for the kids in your life no matter their age. We also asked some teachers what their favorite gifts have been from students and families to give you some ideas about how best to show your appreciation for educators in your life!

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Season 1 – Episode 7: Warm Fuzzies From Your AEA Staff

We know November & December get hectic for educators, so we wanted to take a few minutes & share some stories of how educators made a difference in our lives & some words of encouragement about how amazing the work you do everyday is! On behalf of the AEA staff, we are honored to get to work for educators every single day to support the work they do in schools!

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Season 1 – Episode 6: As A First Year Teacher, I Wish I Knew…

We asked educators in the Arizona Education Association headquarters building what some of the things they wish they knew as a first year teacher, and we shared a lot of laughter hearing about the lessons we all learned the hard way so you don't have to!

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Season 1 – Episode 5: Get Out The Vote

The only thing scarier than Halloween is November 8th's election in Arizona. We're days away, but there is still a lot of work to do. We invited Ellie Perez Pawloski, the Arizona Education Association Political Director, to share with listeners how they can still influence this important election. 

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Season 1 – Episode 4: My Student Is More Than Their Transition

We know all of our students deserve to feel safe & seen in their schools, but how can we make sure our LGBTIA+ students feel that way? Tami Staas is a 3rd grade teacher, Mesa Education Association union member, and the Executive Director of AZTYPO (Arizona Trans Youth Parent Organization), and we’ve invited her to the show to share her knowledge & experiences with us!

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Season 1 – Episode 3: Who Gets to Say What Is Valuable?

HB2495 went into effect on September 24th & HB2439 goes into effect on January 1st, but there are still a lot of questions about these book banning bills. Enter Gretchen Clifton, an English teacher & Union Region Director, & Analise Ortiz, LD24 Candidate-Elect! They shared their thoughts on what these bills means & how it could affect students & educators across the state.

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Season 1 – Episode 2
Part 2: Our Members Continue to Invest In Their Own Education

What role does being a union member play in educator recruitment and retention? Susie Seep, President of PVEA, and Jen Fowler, Education Leader in GUEA, share their experiences and advice on how union work connects to keep educators in this profession long-term & helps members feel supported from the beginning through the end of their education career.

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Season 1 – Episode 2
Part 1: We're The Best Advertisement for Education

Arizona has the highest teacher turnover rate in the country, and we’re all seeing the effects of this educator shortage - from bus routes being cut to overflowing class sizes. But what do we do about it? Come learn with us about strategies for addressing educator recruitment and retention from some educators who are doing the work. Meet Jen Fowler, a mentor to educators entering the profession & local leader in Glendale Union Education Association, and Susie Seep, President of Paradise Valley Education Association!

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Season 1 – Episode 1: Be the Union We Need Today

Meet our new Arizona Education Association President, Marisol Garcia, the first woman of color to ever hold this statewide office. Hear about her vision for our statewide education union, and learn more about why we need to own the word "union" and use our voices to make schools safe places where students can learn!

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Join Us

Become part of the movement improving public education and advocating for better salaries. Together we are the biggest and loudest advocates for our schools, our students, and ourselves.

The AEA Foundation for Teaching & Learning

The AEA Foundation for Teaching & Learning is a tax-exempt, publicly supported charitable organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributors receive full charitable tax benefits.

Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

With more than 20,000 members, the Arizona Education Association (AEA) is the labor union for public school employees in Arizona. AEA members are teachers, community college professors, counselors, speech pathologists, bus drivers, secretaries, retired educators and student teachers and they belong to more than 150 local affiliates across Arizona.