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International Podcast Day Q&A with Jeffrey Bradbury

CNG7BkLUEAAIYaUFor International Podcast Day I spoke with education podcaster extraordinaire Jeffrey Bradbury, creator and host of TeacherCast about TeacherCast’s beginnings, podcasting advice, student podcasting, technology set-ups, and why he hasn’t had me on his show.


Doug Robertson: Why did you start TeacherCast?

Jeffrey Bradbury: TeacherCast was created on July 11, 2011 as a way to creatteachercaste a single location for teachers in my school district to visit and find out how they can use today’s latest and greatest ideas and technology in their classrooms.  The question of “how do I help my students better” really was the driving force behind creating a single site that helps teachers learn no matter how they learn.  On TeacherCast, you can learn visually through blogs, online courses, Livebinders, and videos, they can learn aurally through podcasts, screencasts and live broadcasts, and the website also offers kinesthetic learning in the form of onsite workshops and presentations.  No matter how you want to learn, TeacherCast has something available for you.

DR: What do you do on the days when you feel like there’s nothing for you to cast about?

JB: My students, my fellow teachers, and my PLN are a constant source of questions and topics for TeacherCast content.  I enjoy being able to reach out and help others either by phone, voice, video, or written words.  There is always something to create.

DR: How did you get started technology-wise? What was your first set-up?

JB: I have always been a techy person. I started my own website business while a teenager and then continued into video production when I became an orchestra conductor.  The transition from video editor to podcaster to live broadcaster was pretty easy.  

DR: Can you talk about some unexpected things you’ve learned because of your podcast?

JB: Many podcasters, sponsors, and others in the field are unfortunately really heavy on looking at numbers.  The question “what do your numbers look like?” is unfortunately both a question that everyone wants to ask each other, yet, professionally not one that should really be discussed.  Instead of looking at numbers and stats, I would love to see podcasters focus more on content.  Sometimes you have no idea who is listening to your show and will get inspired to do great things.  I’d much rather have one person listen to a show and then create awesomeness than 100,000 people listen to the show and do nothing.  

DR: How will you be celebrating International Podcast Day? Giant headphone-shaped cake?

JB: This year, I will be celebrating International Podcast Day by sharing the love of video production with students in my new school district.  One of the ways we will be doing this is through an amazingly cute video that was created with our kindergarten classes.  We designed a very adorable video presentation where they had the opportunity to showcase things they are proud of doing.  Helping students achieve their greatest potential is the best way to celebrate International Podcast Day.

DR: If you could give advice to someone who was appearing on a podcast what advice would that be?

JB: Many people appearing on their first podcast (or even creating their first podcast) want things to be scripted. They want a list of topics or questions ahead of time.  It always amazes me that we are all professional educators… professional public speakers… professional advocates for our content area, and yet we are nervous to put a microphone in front of us and have a conversation with another human being.  My best advice is to just relax and be yourself.  I tell my guests all the time: “ I have done over 500 shows and I have yet to interview anyone.”  All of my shows turn out to be conversations… some are great… some are not so great.  Preparing your guest with questions ahead of time may be good in the short run, but what happens if you want to go off script for a bit?  Allowing the back and forth flow of conversations and topics ideas are what makes podcasts great.  If you are asked to be on a podcast remember… you are AWESOME and just have fun with it.

DR: Why hasn’t TeacherCast gotten Weird one-on-one yet? Is it because Sam and Wokka don’t want another puppet-user on the show? You can tell me, they’ll never see this.

JB: I’m afraid of men with blue hair.

DR: Should students podcast? Why?

JB: The ability to create awesome content in any format is easier now more than ever.  Students have the power to create videos and audio projects using their tablets, phones, and laptops very easy and very quickly.  This helps students get a voice in this world, it helps students create a digital footprint, and it helps prepare them for college and ultimately job interviews.  There is a direct connection between a student being able to speak into a mic and share his/her own experiences and being in a room at an interview and answering the popular “Tell me about yourself” question from a potential employer.  

DR: Anyone living or dead that you could podcast- Who is it and why isn’t your answer “Doug Robertson”?

JB: Doug Who? Do you mean that Duck Dynasty guy?  Yes… I’d love to have those fellers on the podcast sometime. [Ed. Note- I am not amused, Mr. Bradbury.]  

There are so many people I would love to have on the program.  The Pope, the president, Beethoven, Mr. Rogers, Jim Henson, my grandparents.  

DR: Anyone fictional you could podcast- Who is it and why isn’t your answer “Yoda”?

JB: Big Bird… no explanation needed.

DR: What podcasts do you listen to?

JB: I actually don’t listen to that many “educational podcasts.” I have a long drive to work each day and I find myself listening to podcasts on Final Cut Pro, WordPress, SEO, WWE, and Public Speaking advice.  Some favorites of mine include: Mac Break Studio, WP Watercooler, MatMen, YourWebsiteEngineer, and anything that includes Jon Taffer, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Jobs, Carmine Gallo, and Kermit the Frog.  

PodcastingCUE thanks Jeffery for his time. To check out TeacherCast go to teachercast.net. There are many other educationally-focused podcasts roaming the internet to check out, including Pushing the Edge with Greg Curran, The Dr Will Show with Dr Will, The Rockstar Principals Podcast with the Rockstar Principals, The Amazing Teacher Podcast, The Transformative Principal Podcast, and E.P.T. This is an incomplete list and if you know of or have an education podcast people need to know about please note and link it in the comments. 

catDoug Robertson is the CUE blog editor and a tenth-year teacher currently talking at fifth graders in Northern Oregon. He’s taught in California, Hawaii, and Oregon in 3rd, 4th, and 6th grades. He’s the author of two books about education, He’s the Weird Teacher and THE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome) and an active blogger. Doug speaks at teaching conferences including CUE Rock Star Teacher Camps, presenting on everything from technology to teaching philosophy (or teaching The Weird Way, to use his words).  Doug is also the creator and moderator of #WeirdEd on Twitter, which happens every Wednesday at 7pm PST.

Ahmed Makes the Loudest Clock

Fourteen years and four days after the attacks of September 11th, a child was arrested and handcuffed in an American high school for bringing a homemade clock to show his teachers.

This blog is about edtech, and this is an edtech issue. However, in one of the first pieces I wrote as editor, I noted the lack of girls and diversity at ISTE‘s Playground. In conversations I had after that piece went up, there were lots of nods of agreement. Yes, we should be encouraging more diverse investment in STEM. Yes, we should see more than just white guys at these edtech conferences. How can we do that?

Then a principal in Texas condones the arrest of a child who made something at home that he was so proud of he dared to bring it to school.

How can we, as teachers, be both encouraging the Maker movement and with the other hand send a message like this? Yes, race is an issue at play here. But let’s not forget the Maker movement might not be as big a deal as some of us think it is. Get a room full of random teachers together and ask who is on Twitter, you’ll get maybe half a dozen hands and a bunch of confused adults wondering why their PD hasn’t started yet (I know, I’ve run those PDs). Ask that same group who has a MakerSpace in their school and the response will be even more muted. MakerSpace is a niche term in wider education circles. We’ve got a responsibility to make that movement more widely known. Maybe, had Ahmed’s school had a Maker program, we wouldn’t know who he is. Maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

This is a conversation we have the responsibility to have with our colleagues. As someone who is aware, we should be helping others by raising awareness. That previous sentence dances perilously close to proselytizing, which I don’t encourage and am constantly annoyed by. In the teacher’s lounge say, “Hey, have you heard about this kid with a clock in Texas? President Obama wants to meet him. Imagine if that were one of our students. How cool.” 


The clock in question Credit- Ken Kalthoff

It’s a spin towards the positive, but that’ll get open eyes on the issue both Ahmed faced and on the issue of spreading the idea of Making. That’s two conversations we should be having as a staff all the time. Those conversations will build our schools up. And it will avoid situations in which no adult at the school stood up and said, “Look, it’s a clock. You can tell it’s a clock. You know it’s a clock.* Let him go. Now.”

Ahmed lives in a reality not that different from the reality of many of our students. They don’t have the resources to even try to make a clock at home. This isn’t a Texas problem, it’s an equity problem. The layers here are deep and riddled with systemic issues. When we as teachers look at students, who are we seeing? What are we encouraging in them? In a hundred ways, both obvious and subtle, are we taking away certain students’ drive to create and be creative? Are we making assumptions about what they can and can’t make based on what we think we see rather than who they actually are?

If there’s anything positive to come out of this, it seems like Ahmed is dedicated to continuing to Make. The outpouring of support from all walks, including an MIT professor (Ahmed’s dream school), Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield, and the Google Science Fair. But the mic dropped loudest because it dropped from the highest seat in the land when President Obama invited Ahmed to the White House to show off his clock. When you get in trouble at school and the president invites you to the White House for it that sends a pretty clear message.


Credit- Anil Dash (via Twitter)

Ahmed was arrested wearing a NASA shirt. NASA – arguably the greatest technological feat our country has ever accomplished. Let’s turn one school’s public mistake into a driving force for good. We as a profession should be so so very angry about this. About how this makes us look. About what this says about where we are. And we must use that anger as a jumping off point, as a force for good. Let the injustice of this fuel your drive to have a MakerSpace at your school. When the anger fades the creativity will be there, thriving and helping encourage the Ahmeds in your school. The conversation shouldn’t end when Ahmed is out of the news cycle. Encourage making with your fellow teachers. Encourage supporting all of our kids, whoever they are, and seeing them as future citizens who will bring light and positivity to our world.

*if they really thought it was a bomb they would have evacuated the school and called the bomb squad, not held him and the clock in the office. I work at a school, I’ve done those drills. 

catDoug Robertson is the CUE blog editor and a tenth-year teacher currently talking at fifth graders in Northern Oregon. He’s taught in California, Hawaii, and Oregon in 3rd, 4th, and 6th grades. He’s the author of two books about education, He’s the Weird Teacher and THE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome) and an active blogger. Doug speaks at teaching conferences including CUE Rock Star Teacher Camps, presenting on everything from technology to teaching philosophy (or teaching The Weird Way, to use his words).  Doug is also the creator and moderator of #WeirdEd on Twitter, which happens every Wednesday at 7pm PST.

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