Three Podcasts About Teaching I’m Thankful For

Three Podcasts About Teaching I’m Thankful For

By Timothy Dohrer

In the early 1990s, my wife and I bought our first house in a suburb many miles from my school where I was teaching. It resulted in a long commute to and from home, made worse on some days thanks to rain or snow, and on others because I was working on my master’s degree which meant some late-night classes and a long drive home. Listening to books on tape in my old blue Ford Taurus was one of the ways I managed teaching, commuting, and working on my degree.

That’s right. Cassette tapes. They were a thing once, a pretty big thing for those of us who remember the Walkman. My routine was to stop by the local library or my school library and check out tapes for those long drives. It helped pass the time and kept me up on my reading for my English master’s degree. I have some great memories of those drives, especially when I took a Shakespeare class and discovered that many classic performances had been captured on vinyl and then transferred to the new cassette format. That introduced me to some incredible actors such as John Gielgud, Paul Scofield, and Ian McKellen. So, clearly, using my travel time as a way to listen and think has been part of my daily routine for a long time!

Today I continue that routine by listening to podcasts. And while my rotation of shows tends to lean towards entertainment and humor, I have discovered some remarkable education-related podcasts that are both useful and inspirational. In this time of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d “give thanks” to three podcasts and try to convince you to download them and give them a listen!

Cult of Pedagogy 

“Teacher nerds, unite.” Teacher Jennifer Gonzalez started this as a pet project, and now it has blossomed into a podcast, website, blog, videos, and supporting materials. The podcast episodes range from interviews with teachers on a given topic to Gonzalez offering quick “fix-up” tips to help teachers improve their practice and lives. Each episode runs from 30 to 60 minutes and is very honest and positive.

Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers Podcast 

“It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.” Watson set up a website in 2003 to help teachers more easily find resources and and a supportive, encouraging community. Now she has started podcasting with the same message, using weekly, short podcasts of about 15 minutes that are posted every Sunday to motivate teachers as they prepare for the week.  She alternates between giving her own advice, featuring a monthly guest podcaster, and interviewing someone in the education field. The advice is helpful and incredibly positive for new or veteran teachers. She can come off as a little “preachy,” but there is no question that she is speaking truth to teachers in a way that should help them feel great about this profession.

Schooled: The Podcast 

“Dedicated to exploring school life through stories.” John O’Connor is an English teacher, poet, author, and adjunct instructor in our teacher education program at Northwestern. He’s also a friend. I’ve watched John lead discussions with students and adults for years now, and he is truly a master of asking probing questions that get people to think and talk. His warm voice coupled with a keen sense of storytelling melds perfectly with the podcasting format. And he has brought an NPR-level of production to this 45-minute monthly show. He just started, so it's a great time to jump on and follow along as he explores schooling, teaching, and learning.

What podcasts or education-related website do you like? Let us know in the discussion forum below!

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