EP 24: In the final regular episode of Truth for Teachers until season 2 begins in August, I’m taking a moment to reflect on my first five months of podcasting. I’ll share which episodes resonated most with listeners (and which ones didn’t), my plans for changing the podcast in the fall, and an idea for some bonus extended episodes I’d like to try. I’ll also share some final thoughts to remember as you approach the end of the school year and summer. Please share your thoughts on Season 1 here in the survey. Thank you for listening and for your feedback!
This post is based on the latest episode of my weekly podcast, Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers. A podcast is essentially a talk radio show that you can listen to online or download and take with you wherever you go. I release a new episode each Sunday and feature it here on the blog to help you get energized and motivated for the week ahead. Learn more about the podcast, view blog posts for all past episodes, or subscribe in iTunes to get new episodes right away.
I’m so grateful to those of you who have taken the time to email me, leave Facebook comments, leave blog comments, and reviews on iTunes to let me know how the podcast has helped you. I always appreciate kind words, of course, but they were especially meaningful in relation to the podcast because this whole endeavor has been so far out of my comfort zone. I had zero experience with the technical aspects of podcasting, and no expertise with creating any kind of talk show. And it’s not even something that I had dreamed about doing one day–I think of myself as a writer first and foremost. And like most people, I really don’t like hearing the sound of my own voice!
But when you’re meant to do something, you just know it. I just knew that going down this path was the right thing, it’s that same sense of knowing that I have when I’m writing a new book or purusing any other project. Part of me is like, I can’t believe I’m taking this on, and the other part of me is like, I can’t not do it.
So here are couple of reviews you all have shared, and to thank you, I’m going to read some of them here:
“I love hearing these messages, and even better I can fit them in on my drive to/fro school! Your messages are so spot on, not just shallow sound bits, solid thoughts, and advice! I especially love you co hosting with Dave Brugess. Keep these coming, they are just what we need! My new mantra, “It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be worth it!” After 11 years I thought thought I was supposed to have all these things figured out, but no, I’m doing just what I need to be doing –continuing to LEARN and REFLECT how to be better day by day! Thank you again.” –WheatThins4Life
“So inspired by Angela’s words of wisdom! Her calm, experienced voice challenges my thinking when I get in a rut or a low point of frustration. I have soaked up every book, blog, resource that she has created through the years, so now I’m especially thankful to take her with me on the go, in a way that seems so personal.” –jb_bookworm
“This podcast is so encouraging and truthful. I have been teaching for 21 years, and I have to say that Angela really understands what teachers go through and experience. The honesty and encouragement found here is refreshing. Keep the episodes coming.” –Super Dixie
Thank you so much for those kind words! Part of the reason why I started this podcast was for people like you, who have been following me online for years. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to connect in a different way and offering you something new.
When I look back on season 1 and try to find patterns in what resonated most with you all, it’s actually kind of hard to tell. The oldest episodes always have the most views because they’ve been out the longest. But I definitely see jumps in the amount of downloads for the episode on motivating students to take charge of their learning and how to deal with apathetic students. And I see jumps in the month of downloads that talk about dealing with negativity amongst co-workers and in school. So those are some issues that I want to delve more deeply into in future episodes, and also bring some experts on to share their experiences.
One of the things that really surprised me was that the episodes with guests have fewer downloads than the ones I do myself. And I have awesome guests with powerful messages so I thought that would be a big draw, and you guys would be sick of hearing me talk all the time. But maybe it’s more like having a substitute teacher or a guest preacher instead of your regular pastor on Sunday mornings, you feel like, aw, my regular routine is off, this is not who I was expecting.
So I’m going to give some thought as to how I integrate guests in season 2. I still think it’s important to share the platform with other people and feature different voices on the podcast, but I want to give some thought to some other formats for that. Initially I didn’t want to do an interview, because I feel like that’s how so many other shows work, and I wanted something different. I wanted to give people an opportunity to just speak from the heart without me interrupting them or adding in questions, but I’m totally open to trying something different. If you have an opinion on that or some ideas for how you’d like to see guests integrated on the show, or if there’s someone in particular you’d like me to feature, please let me know.
This survey will take less than a minute to fill out, and it’s probably the easiest way to let me know anonymously what your thoughts are on the guests, the podcast topics, the length of the show, and anything else that’s on your mind.
In terms of direction for season 2… assuming the survey doesn’t give me a ton of feedback suggesting that I change something about the format of the show, my plan is to continue with the same general format, 10 to 15 minutes for each episode, released on Sundays at 12 noon so that you can listen as you prepare for the week ahead. I keep a running list of podcasts topics just anytime something pops into my head that I think might make a good episode I write it down, and I have over 40 possible topics listed.
And I’ve also gotten some great topic ideas that you have suggested. Many of you have sent in submissions to the Ask Angela Anything feature where you can send in your questions anonymously to the Google form or through the SpeakPipe. I can’t answer them all since I’m only doing a feature once a month, but there are some really great ones I’m looking forward to tackling in season 2. One question that I thought was really interesting was about my dealing with a negative coworker’s episode, and someone asked what if YOU are at the negative coworker? I also got one about what can be done to restore respect to the American teacher, and boy, I’m not even sure I know the answer to that, but I would love to talk about it!
I want to talk about teacher observations and evaluations and how to keep from losing your mind over that whole process, and how to be quietly subversive. So this is a phrase that I talked about in the last chapter of my new book Unshakeable –it’s this idea that when you’re asked to do things that are not best for the kids, you don’t always have to make a huge fuss about it and protest, so sometimes you quietly subvert system. That’s something I really want to talk about because I think teachers feel like everyone else is following the rules exactly and what they don’t realize is that the best teachers are quietly going about doing what they know their kids need. So I want to talk about being quietly subversive, about how to break free from teacher guilt, and how to be a change agent in your school. I want to to talk about how to avoid information overload, how to figure out what is enough, and where you can cut corners especially as a new teacher.
I’m also playing around with the idea of doing more episodes on instructional strategies: stuff like how to eliminate homework hassles, how to assess kids quickly and easily, how to increase student participation, and how to teach kids to work cooperatively. So far I’ve kind of shied away from those types of topics because I feel that’s more like traditional professional development and I’m not sure if teachers want to spend their weekends thinking about assessment and homework. I’ve tried to stick more to motivational, inspirational, and encouraging messages, but I’d love to know your thoughts on that–if you would be interested in hearing me talk about more practical classroom strategies occasionally, or if I should confine that to my regular non-podcast blog posts.
That’s a question that’s in the survey, too. I’m interested in hearing from both people who subscribe and listen on iTunes and aren’t regular blog readers, as well as my long-time blog readers who don’t actually listen to the podcast and just read the transcripts. I want to hear your opinion on whether you like seeing the podcast featured on the blog. There are about 10 questions in the survey, but they’re all optional so you can just leave whatever comments you want or just check off a few boxes and don’t feel obligated to spend more than a minute or two on this. I really thought it was important to give you a way to offer me feedback anonymously, because I’m only going to improve if people really speak truth.
I know some of you are sad that I’m taking the summer off from the regular episodes of the podcast, but I have a really awesome surprise for you. I’m going to try doing a couple of bonus extended episodes where I invite guests on the show to talk in-depth about issues in education. I want to invite some principals on the show to talk about building a positive school culture, and I want to bring in some teachers to talk about classroom management issues and how they handle typical classroom problems. These are going to be full 30-60 minute episodes where I just toss out questions and let experienced educators answer in a really casual, informal, and hopefully informative way for you. So be on the lookout for those this summer–I’d like to do one in June and one in July.
And of course you can stay connected with me throughout the summer as I’m still going to be blogging regularly and creating lots of new teacher resources. In July, I am participating in 3 online events: the Teachers Leading Teachers Conference, the Unshakeable Book Club, and the Awakened Devotional Bible Study for Christian Teachers. These are going to be amazing, life changing events and I hope you’ll be able to participate!
So, final thoughts I want to leave you with for the summer. Some of you still have a few weeks of school left. Here in New York City, we don’t let out until the last week of June. If that’s the case for you, hang in there. Treasure those last few days with your students. Some of my best memories as a teacher are in the final weeks of school when the testing was behind me and I’ve stopped stressing out and started focusing more on connecting with the kids.
Look forward to your summer break and create a plan for each week so the time doesn’t slip by without you taking full advantage of it. Schedule in time for relaxing and for your family, and don’t let anything interfere with that. You may not be able to create the work/life balance you want on a daily basis, but you can on a seasonal basis. For the last 10 months, teaching has been a major priority in your life. What about the summer–what do you want to be your priority for the next 2 months? Getting new teaching ideas and preparing for the fall is just one small part of how you’ll use your time. Be intentional. Take time for yourself and the people you care about.
Your Takeaway Truth this week is not just for the week ahead, but for the summer ahead:
Whatever is bothering you, will it matter a year from now? Whatever you’re choosing to do with your time, will it matter a year from now, either by producing something good in the world or by creating good memories? Will it matter a year from now?
Thank you for giving me your time and attention during this first season of Truth for Teachers. It has been an honor, truly. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it, and I hope when you look back over the incredible work you’ve done this school year, you believe the same.
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