Lessons Learned from 10 Podcasts

My new podcast (I’ve been podcasting for 10 years, just not very regularly) was born out of curiosity and the realization that there may never be a better time to do this. I’m well aware that many others are jumping on the bandwagon and that’s fine, in fact, that kind of sharing should be encouraged and applauded.

I’ve always said that if I have any strength, it’s my large network that has been built for the past 15 years. I know a lot of people, a lot of smart people. So with some extra time I decided to try and capture as many different people, places and roles around the world to share the impact of Covid19. I share with them these questions as a guide to our conversation:

1. What are you and your fellow teachers being asked to do with regards to your new duties?
2. What supports or messaging are you most grateful for?
3. What challenges are you most concerned about?
4. What does your new daily routine look like that you’re finding either delightful or odd?
5. What good are you hoping results from this crisis?

Thus far I’ve published 10 podcasts and have 3 more ready to edit and publish. I also have at least 5 more scheduled. Here are 2 things I’ve learned so far:

The message of care and grace are leading the way. I polled folks on twitter a few weeks ago a general question relating to how teachers were being messaged and was pleased with the results:

Essentially 80% of educators of the 150 or so polled were at best being told to do their best or at least had decreased expectations. Certainly not hard evidence but a hopeful sampling. The educators I’ve spoken to have all shared how messaging has focused on connecting with kids and taking care of their own families. The Chris Kennedy episode highlights a superintendent’s clear message that speaks to a focus on mental health and well-being. Carla Pereira also talks about her role in Communications on the importance of letting teachers, students and their families understand they are prioritizing their basic needs above all else.

The second lesson I’ve learned is just how great the gap is when it comes to equity. I wrote about this early on, even before I started the podcast but hearing the variety of stories and challenges has me more aware than I ever have been. While poverty, race and access have perhaps been the most prevalent inequities, we get to mask them and address them to a degree when everyone shows up at school. But even access is more complicated than just get everyone a laptop, but it does help. Chris Layton talks bout how their district was better prepared than many districts because of their investment in technology. And yet, as Monise Seward told me, the approach to online learning for students with special needs reveals another set of challenges.

Spending 15-20 minutes with smart people is such a great investment in my own learning and growth. They are forcing me to think about many issues and that I miss. This is why we have networks and why the now old saying of “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” is more salient than ever. Whether or not anyone else listens to these is not that importan to me, however, I would hate for you to miss a chance to learn from smart and caring people. The world of education, at least my network is full of them.