Today, I published the 25th episode of my podcast on teaching and learning remotely. It’s enough of a milestone for me to want to celebrate. There are only about 24 episodes of Friends in each season. In about five weeks, I’ve put out more episodes than Friends did in a year.
More to the point, I think that it’s a good time to sit down and reflect on the value of the project and where I’d like to see it go next. In the short time that it’s been around, it’s become important to me.
It started because I wanted to reflect on each day of remote teaching and learning. When we were in the classroom, I used to write “10-minute Updates” every day before leaving to go home. I’d sit at my computer and just type up whatever thoughts were floating around in my head about the day for around about 10 minutes. It helped me put the day in perspective, set goals for the next day or week, make some anecdotal notes, and transition myself from the working day into the evening. I could have continued the practice when we moved into distance learning and I think it would have been of great benefit to me.
I thought about writing a blog post every day, a small step away from my daily updates. Again, I think it would have been very beneficial for me to do. I thought that maybe people wouldn’t want to read an update every day, that maybe they’d prefer to watch or listen to one.
Let me backtrack for a minute. Mr. G. Tutors has been an idea of mine for a number of years. It started when I was an occasional teacher and I thought that I would be able to start a small, private tutoring company to supplement my income. I never got around to putting it together and it never really went anywhere. Each year, in August, I’d resolve to do something with the site, whether that was actually starting the tutoring business, putting out tutorials like Khan Academy, or providing resources to other teachers in a professional learning community sort of vein. By October, I’d let it drop.
Starting this past September, I began uploading more videos to YouTube. It was working well for me. I was enjoying the process more than I was writing blog posts. Working in a different medium opened up new possibilities. In another part of my life, I started thinking about podcasting and started work on preparing one. It wasn’t coming together too nicely but I kept wrestling with it.
Bam! Instead of writing a blog post every day, why don’t I use this as an opportunity to start a podcast? I could link it back to Mr. G. Tutors and I’ll achieve my goal of publishing six episodes of a podcast in 2020.
Sometimes the stars shine brightly in these old eyes of mine.
To be quite frank, I didn’t think it’d stick.
Aly, are you really going to put in the work to publish an episode a day? Really?
Yes, definitely. I can do it. I will do it.
And, here we are, episode 25 went out today.
What’s kept it going is not intrinsic motivation but positive reinforcement. Intrinsic motivation – that drive within you, spurred on by the feeling of satisfaction you get as you watch something you’re putting together grow – does play a small part, of course. But, not being one to promote myself all that well – I can see all of my flaws – I started advertising it on Twitter and Instagram, and it’s gotten some positive attention. A few people have been supportive, but none more than Mr. Morris. When someone whose work you respect returns the sentiment, it’s a good feeling.
As it gets on, I’m having a harder time finding topics to cover. I’m also trying to think up new ways to liven things up. Last week, I started a segment called “Big Idea Fridays” and today I put a call out for people to contribute to the podcast. These ideas may have been inspired by a sense that I’m running out of topics for upcoming episodes but I think that it has led to something meaningful. It’s encouraged me to think more critically about what I’m trying to achieve with this podcast.
Big Idea Fridays gives me some license to think more theoretically about an aspect of pedagogy that I find interesting. Having other people contribute to the podcast will make it more of a dialogue.
I want to engage in a discussion. I want to use the platforms that I have to share my thoughts and ideas. I want to contribute meaningfully to the professional learning community that I am a member of. I want other people to participate in this with me.
If nothing else, the podcast has helped me reflect on my teaching practice in a way that I haven’t before. The public nature of a podcast adds some pressure because I’m speaking to an audience. Members of an audience also have a voice that they’re quieting for the six or seven minutes that they’re listening to me. That’s a lot to ask of someone.
Going forward, my hope is that I’ll keep growing with the podcast. It’ll make for a nice keepsake when we all return to a life that involves students in a classroom – a dream I’m not letting drop come October.
If you’re interested in contributing and would like to create an episode to go out on the podcast, I’d like to connect with you. Please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
Have a YouTube channel, podcast, blog, or something else that you’d like to share with a community of teachers? Drop a link in the comments.