Make Summer PD Fun and Easy with these Terrific Teacher Podcasts
When I was a young teacher, before I got married and had children of my own, summer was a time for me to rest, reflect and plan for the school year ahead. I would sign up for cool summer conferences, get my stack of PD books to read, and plan out my curriculum for the next school year from my little apartment (no house to worry about yet).
Fast forward twenty years and my summers are now spent shuttling my two kids around to sporting events and camps, working on the many home improvement projects my husband and I put off during the school year, and prepping for our family vacation (which has to take place in summer, for obvious reasons). If I read books, they are books I want to read and have waited to read because things were too hectic during the school year. I definitely do not have the time to dedicate to a weeklong conference.
Coming off the very challenging few years we’ve experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer it feels especially hard to be motivated to do any professional development. In so many ways, I’m done. And that’s why I promised myself I would take until July 4th to do nothing related to school. I need a few weeks to walk away and recharge.
However, I know from experience as July rolls into August, I need to do some honest reflecting on what has worked in my classes and what hasn’t, what I want to go into the school year valuing most (these become the non-negotiables that steer my year), and how I plan to connect with and engage my students. If I don’t do this reflection, it’s easy to repeat past mistakes and feel aimless in my teaching, which is not a good feeling.
So how can I still reflect and plan but do it in a way that works with my schedule? Lately I’ve been embracing a refreshing new professional development medium: podcasts.
The last decade has seen huge growth in the podcast industry. According to Statista, at the end of 2021 over half of all Americans had listened to at least one podcast, and Spotify had 2.6 million podcasts on its platform! On a personal level, I’ve started to listen to educational podcasts this year for two main reasons:
- They allow me to hear perspectives on teaching and education from all over the country or even the globe and reflect deeply within the space of only 30-50 minutes.
- They allow me to multitask while I’m engaged in that deep reflection.
I absolutely love that I can do laundry or dishes or mow the lawn or drive my daughter to a softball game (or even watch a softball game….shhh, don’t tell my daughter), and at the same time listen to some cool teachers or educational leaders talk about ideas that inspire or challenge me.
And since there are so many podcasts out there, there is sure to be one that fits your specific teaching situation and professional needs. To get you started on your podcast journey, I’ve curated a list of really good teacher podcasts, many of which I listen to myself. I also added a bonus list of thoughtful podcasts for anyone who wants to learn and improve their life in general. I hope you will give one a listen and walk away with some inspiration!
Nine Podcasts for Teachers
Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers
Angela Watson is a former teacher and creator of the 40 Hour Workweek program. She focuses on helping teachers find work/life balance to avoid burnout and hosts guests who honestly discuss a variety of real issues teachers must tackle.
Holt McDougal Harcourt brings inspiring teachers and educational leaders from all over the country to the table to share the stories and lessons they have learned. There is something here for every teacher.
Monica Genta’s This Teacher Life
Genta gained fame with her inspiring TED Talk How Starbucks Could Save Education, and her podcast is full of real, helpful conversations with fellow teachers. She tells it like it is, and I feel like I’m hearing a conversation with a teacher friend when I listen.
Founded by former ELA teacher Jennifer Gozalez, this podcast covers a multitude of topics that apply to primary and secondary education and all different subject areas. I have personally found many of their blogs and podcasts to be well-organized and helpful in breaking down research and best-practices without having to read a whole book.
John Spencer’s The Creative Classroom*
John Spencer is a college professor (and former secondary teacher) who, as he puts it in the podcast description, “…want[s] to see teachers can transform classrooms into spaces of imagination and wonder.” His podcasts bring on experts who challenge educational norms and inspire teachers to take risks in their classrooms.
Dr. Sheldon Eakins, the founder of the Leading Equity Center, focuses his podcast on how we can improve equitable outcomes in education in many different forms. What are students saying about teacher bias? How can we get more girls involved in STEM? These are the kinds of questions his podcast seeks to answer.
Do you love to use technology in your classroom to engage your students and improve their learning? Then this podcast is for you. Teacher Chris Nesi brings inspiration for tech-savvy educators to each episode.
One thing the pandemic taught us is that virtual learning works really well for some of our students, and as a result, virtual school enrollments are up! If you are currently teaching virtually or considering it in the future, this podcast covers a myriad of issues specific to teaching in an online environment.
Brought to you by Bored Teachers, this podcast features several very funny teachers from TikTok fame who gather to unpack things teachers care about in hilarious (and sometimes borderline inappropriate) roundtable discussions. If you want to laugh with fellow teachers, this is the podcast for you.
5 Podcasts Just Because
The tagline of this podcast, “ancient wisdom for everyday life,” sums it up well. Host and author Ryan Holiday offers 2-3 minute meditations to “help you live your best life.”
Professor, researcher, and author Brene Brown digs deeply into a full range of human emotions and life issues, and because of her superstar status, gets amazing guests from all over the world to join her.
TED – How to be a Better Human* & NPR’s Life Kit
Both of these offer quick hits of wisdom and simple life hacks we can all benefit from.
This weekly public radio podcast hosted by Ira Glass features stories from all over our huge, diverse country. It has won Peabody Awards and the first ever Pulitzer Prize awarded to a podcast. It absolutely deserves all of these awards and a listen.
Ever feel like all you hear is bad news (to the point that you don’t want to watch the news anymore)? If so, check out this podcast where all they talk about is good news and uplifting stories.
*These podcasts require the Spotify or iTunes app to listen.
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