Doing this podcast was a labor of love for me. It pushed me out of my comfort zone in insurmountable ways. When I thought about what we could do to empower teachers by using voice I literally thought – BY VOICE. A lot more than people may think go into creating something new. First, the anxiety affect kicks in, you think it won’t resonate, you start thinking of everything that could go wrong. I had to think about who would be on it and why would they be featured on it. I had to think about who would want to do something like this. What I would found out is that by nature teachers are resistant at first because as I delve into this project I realized that teachers do not believe in the power of their own voice. Why? Here are some of my observations/beliefs through my experience:
- Teachers’ ideas in schools are often stifled by administration, sometimes unsuspectingly.
- Teachers haven’t been expressively told that their voices are valuable.
- Teachers face significant trauma from outside groups that largely shape their realities.
- Time at schools for teachers to elaborate on their ideas is limited or nonexistent.
- Opportunities for genuine teacher leadership is mitigated by judgment from peers.
These factors are real. I know because I felt or heard a combination of them all throughout my journey. This undertaking was a journey. I would travel to schools or sometimes teachers would visit me to record what I officially dubbed “Give Me Ten Minutes: The Premier Teacher Powered Podcast.” This podcast would serve as a way for teachers to exercise their expertise on an alternative format that teachers can tap into outside of the classroom walls. The idea was to engage prospective teachers (Broward College) and newer teachers in my schools New Teacher Program and encourage them to listen to the podcasts to hear from veteran teachers and allow them to reflect on what they heard as it relates to their likelihood to adopt those strategies in their classrooms.
As teachers began to open up they communicated to me how they felt in an open and honest manner. Almost collectively they would begin to share how at first they were conscious about how their voices sound on the recording, but after they got over that feeling they were able to move on more comfortably. One teacher, in particular, said: “your editing made me sound so smart.” I think one of my strengths is being able to help people to become comfortable in their dialogue with me. I used the constructs of the listening dyad to assist people in understanding that I was actively listening to their expertise. I valued it.
The feedback was beneficial and humbling at the same time. The teachers’ answers to open-ended survey questions communicated a consistent narrative that was encouraging to me going forward. The narrative represented a willingness for teachers to use this platform as part of a mechanism of professional learning.
Purpose: I chose this artifact because it was a critical piece of how I was able to connect with teachers to empower them to use their voice to elaborate on strategies they use in the classroom that contributes to student success. It was powerful to witness teachers who normally would not share their expertise do so on such a platform as this. This teacher-powered podcast has begun a teacher-led environment at my school where teachers now feel more open to share. By the end of the school year once understood how the platform could be beneficial they started to be interested in contributing. Now I can share these practices with university teacher preparation programs and public/private schools who are interested in listening to our local teachers. It’s different because my aim was to create a podcast with a “local” feel where the teachers featured on it were close in proximity to you that way you feel you can accomplish what they’re accomplishing at their schools, it feels attainable.
Teacher Fellow Competency: This artifact led to my growth as an instructional innovator from the standpoint of this type of interaction being a first for my school community. When I took the pulse of the room initially I could see that many teachers were unfamiliar with how to access or listen to podcasts let alone allowing for it to be a conduit for professional learning and enhancement. As an instructional innovator I was able to inject a passion with my colleagues to embrace methods of technology and social media as a way to collaborate and share knowledge.
Skills: This artifact connects to my skills as a teacher leader by being an influencer. As a teacher you must engage in practices that would encourage your colleagues to adopt the practices you enact because they understand its impact based on observation and data. As evidenced by the feedback and amount of listens, this podcast has the potential to have immense impact on many school communities. In the ways I have been able to ascertain the impact has encouraged teachers to modify or implement best practices discussed on the podcast by their colleagues.