Podcasts for Professional Learning
April 17, 2021
There’s nothing better than a great conversation with educators! For me, nearly every walk, run, workout, or commute is another opportunity to hear a great podcast. Almost like a cup of coffee together, nothing beats feeling inspired, provoked, or so moved by a few educator stories, passions, and anecdotes. Without a doubt, when you get to laugh, think, or cry alongside others–that’s powerful!
I’ve been reflecting on exactly this kind of podcast experience. I’m wondering:
Is it possible that a podcast might be as valuable as your next structured, well-intended workshop or conference session in a way?
Personally, I always come back to… Maybe. I mean, there’s no doubt that there’s serious professional learning value in listening to educator podcasts. Of course there is! Yet, what if we took it to the next step? I guess I’m asking:
What if educators could earn professional credits from listening to podcasts? What if we looked at podcasts as “official” professional learning opportunities?
I’ve been contemplating what this might look like. Step one might be to justify which podcasts might apply to credit-earning opportunities for the learner. Then, educators would get to evidence their thinking, reflecting, and learning in meaningful ways. In this post, I’m exploring a few podcasts by educators in my district. While this is overwhelmingly in draft mode, I’m envisioning something like this with a few–out of the many–podcasts I’ve been listening to lately:
Beginning Teacher Wednesdays
- Purpose: Designed to support, challenge and connect beginning teachers during their first years in the classroom.
- Host: Jen Hawkins
- Twitter: @BTWPodcastChat
- Website: beginningteacherpodcast.com
My Professional Learning Reflections: In the Beginning Teacher Wednesdays Podcast, Jen Hawkins has real conversations with educators about being a beginning teacher (BT). With a continual teacher shortage, persevering mentor programs, and the fact that several educators leave the profession after a few years, this podcast screams with value. Oh, how I wish I could have connected with so many more educators around the experience when I was a BT! I share this podcast with every BT I know. This podcast should be a part of your BT Mentor Program, your college education courses, and your school’s list of BT resources from day one. What if BTs could capture a few episode quotes and reflect upon them in your next BT mentor meeting, in a blog, or in Voxer conversations, for example? What if BT professional growth plans included episode analyses on topics that related to them and their challenges and successes? What might you add?
The Way Out Is Back Through
- Purpose: A podcast about proximity, history, & place in the context of teaching & school leadership in NC.
- Host: Mike Parker West
- Twitter: @backthroughpod
- Website: thewayoutisbackthrough.org
My Professional Learning Reflections: Perhaps the most professionally-produced podcast ever crafted, Mike Parker West is creating an invaluable space. In The Way Out Is Back Through, the voices of others are amplified, the stories and personal accounts most likely left out of history books and texts are told, heard, and valued, and the choreography between all the moving pieces is powerful, to say the least. This masterpiece is anchored in depth, substance, authenticity, racial equity, culture, education, and people. In addition, I believe that educators will also value The Way Out Is Back Through as an incredible curriculum resource for a variety of learning experiences. In fact, for many, this podcast is revealing content previously unseen and unheard. Priceless productions like this may soon complement, supplement, or outright replace the traditional, historical, schooling resources of the past.
Digital Learning Coordinators (Wake County Public School System)
- Purpose: The Digital Learning Coordinators support teaching and learning by offering a variety of services. Our goal is to help WCPSS staff effectively plan and use digital resources to advance student learning.
- Hosts: Katherine Heywood & Chris Zirkle
- Twitter: Featured on @wcpssdll
My Professional Learning Reflections: Created by two Digital Learning Coordinators (DLC) in my district–and accessible only to our district–Katie Heywood and Chris Zirkle facilitate discussions with educators on relevant topics of interest. The content is a beautiful blend of sound pedagogy, appropriate tools and resources, and meaningful integration of technology. Yet, one thing I value all the more is the educators themselves. I’m getting to know more about our district’s expectations, content, network, and resources–including people. Many times I don’t even know the guest(s), and I’ll grow familiar and seek to connect with them. As an educator who doesn’t get many off-campus meet-and-greet opportunities, I’m incredibly grateful for this conversation archive, and I especially admire how these DLCs spotlight and celebrate their guests on the show and in the show notes. Does your district have a podcast or channel to connect and help educators like this?
These are just a few examples–and all from my district. There are more in my district, not to mention literally hundreds of other podcasts in which I invest, of which I find incredible value, and to which I’m loyal because I genuinely admire the podcasters, for example. Listing just a few podcasts that I absolutely love inevitably runs the excruciating risk of leaving others out, which is not my intent. Perhaps, another post, or maybe even your next PD might feature opportunities to access them… ALL.
Why I Want Podcasts for Professional Learning… Credits
I love listening to a great podcast episode. I love being a guest or even a host in the conversations. Selfishly, I want fellow educators to cherish these amazing resources in similar ways. Many of my passions involve exploring, researching, curating, connecting, and leveraging FREE resources in the world around us to make teaching and learning better. I believe, in a way, that we are each other’s best resources. There’s value in exploring, researching, and accessing the archives that be for meaningful learning experiences, to plant seeds, to cultivate growth, and to own your authentic learning journey all the way into fruition–and beyond. For me, listening to podcasts has been a value-add experience. Why not do some deeper analysis, critical thinking, personal reflection, and intentional application with the [FREE] resources that are super meaningful and accessible to us at our fingertips anywhere, anytime?
How About You?
Please share your thoughts, comments, and reflections, especially regarding:
- Which podcasts might you add?
- How might you structure relevant, meaningful, credit-earning, professional learning opportunities around them?
- Have you already seen or experienced professional learning models around podcasting?
- What about podcasts indirectly related to education?
- Do you have your own ideas about how to make these opportunities better?
Or, maybe we can just listen for fun… and let it be.
1-Teachers Demonstrate Leadership, 2-Teachers Establish a Respectful Environment for a Diverse Population of Students, 3-Teachers Know the Content They Teach, 4-Teachers Facilitate Learning for Their Students, 5-Teachers Reflect on Their Practice, NCSSE 1-Strategic Leadership, NCSSE 2-Instructional Leadership, NCSSE 4-Human Resource Leadership