Podcasts are great PD opportunities

Column: 
December 27, 2019
By Dean Vendramin, Teacher, Archbishop M.C. O’Neill High School

Sometimes in our busy lives, we just don’t have the time to read, go to conferences, reach out on social media and perform other acts that provide professional development.

But, we do have to do things like drive to work, clean the house and other tasks that require an investment of time. Many of these are very important to our day-to-day lives, but do not always require extreme periods of concentration or precise thinking. Other times we just want to sit back and relax. These can be times where you can fit in professional development.

Armed with a device and a good speaker or headphones, you can embark on a professional development journey that will be both efficient and rewarding. Listening to podcasts can be done at your convenience and open up ideas and discussions that provide growth opportunities.

As part of the Connected Educator program in Regina Catholic Schools, members are expected to take part in a number of professional development offerings. For the last few years, we launched and completed very successful summer book study sessions.

This year, under the direction of a few of our program’s visionary leaders, we decided to explore another way to connect, share ideas and strengthen our professional learning community. We tapped into the power of the podcast. Our team selected five podcasts that covered themes like shifting your school, makerspaces, growth mindsets and celebrating failure.

Each podcast was followed up with a discussion question to be shared on Twitter with our Connected Educator hashtags. It was a very successful professional development model and the bulk of it was done sitting in a comfortable lawn chair while soaking up some rays. Here is the link to a Wakelet collection of the Twitter conversations we were having on our podcast selections: http://bit.ly/rcsdpodcastpd. Not sure what Wakelet  is? Check out my Wakelet review at http://bit.ly/dvwakelet. This is a great tool.

There are many great podcasts out there that cover a wide variety of topics. There are also many suggested playlists. The ones we looked at for our PD are at http://bit.ly/rcsdconedpd. You can also reach out on social media for themes and well-done podcasts. I’d recommend www.voiced.ca as a great place to start. Voiced radio has a wide range of topics created right here in Canada (give @Stephen_Hurley a follow on Twitter). There are also flipped professional development opportunities with podcasts too. Start with one and see where it takes you.

I’ve dabbled in creating podcasts as part of a formative learning community and in my classroom. We are hoping to create a RCSD Connected Educator podcast series highlighting and sharing the amazing work being done by teachers in our program.

A few tools I have used to create and host podcasts are anchor.fm, zencastr.com, soundcloud.com, Audacity, GarageBand, and WeVideo. I would also recommend a decent microphone–I use a Blue Snowball mic.

There is no shortage of tools, tutorials and support for anyone wanting to start this journey. Great professional development is just an audio playlist away. Thanks for reading. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @vendi55 if you have any questions.