George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

Making Podcasts Part of Professional Learning

Podcasts about improving practices in education provide bite-sized enrichment that teachers can consume whenever they like.

October 27, 2023
BjelicaS / iStock

In today’s evolving educational landscape, educators consistently seek engaging, accessible pathways for learning opportunities that inspire, spark creativity, and promote innovative learning experiences for learner engagement and success. Meaningful professional learning doesn’t follow a linear path or operate as a one-way street. Taking control of your professional growth will elevate your expertise and propel you to the next level of learning.

There is a special kind of magic that lives inside being in the driver‘s seat of your own learning. Intentionally seeking opportunities to learn in a multitude of ways is a major benefit in your social, emotional, and intellectual deposit box. So, how can educators learn in new ways to enhance student learning experiences?

Bringing podcasts into teacher professional learning and tying them to student learning experiences has become a popular medium through which these connections and contributions can thrive.

Podcasts are a one-stop shop for learning, as they are accessible and offer a variety of content that can be easily integrated into daily routines, making professional learning a personalized and interactive experience. They are a cornerstone in harnessing the spirit of collaboration, where everyone involved becomes a teacher and a learner, contributing to the collective growth of educational ecosystems.

Leveraging Podcasts for Teacher Growth

Incorporating podcasts into professional learning experiences for teachers maximizes time, personalizes learning, and empowers educators to learn at any time and place that works best for their busy schedules.

Teachers can use what they have learned from podcasts and incorporate strategies into intentionally crafted lessons to provide multiple pathways for their students to show their learning.

4 Ways to Use Podcasts to Guide Your Learning

1. Identify your learning needs. Brainstorm topics independently or with colleagues to define learning goals that align with your curriculum, standards, and learning targets that can lead to intentional learning.

2. Prepare for listening. If you’re interested in tuning into podcasts, you can download podcast apps in advance. Always keep earbuds handy to listen to podcasts anytime and anywhere, whether on your commute, taking a walk, having your lunch break, or waiting in line at the grocery store. The convenience of being able to listen at your own pace is what makes podcast learning enjoyable. To help you get started, we’ve curated a list of educational podcasts that provide practical strategies on various topics. Here are some:

3. Consider professional learning tips. Since time is of the essence, it becomes important to think about various ways teachers can capitalize on listening to podcasts.

  • You can listen to a podcast in short segments over time or focus on a specific section that interests you. You can even speed up or slow down the podcast to your preferred pace.
  • Approach it as you would any professional-learning experience. Discern what may be relevant to your practice, and gain value from picking up one or two high-impact routines. A great benefit is that you can easily revisit particularly meaningful sections. Simply fast-forward or rewind as needed!

4. Leverage strategies to document your learning. Listening to podcasts is a great way to learn and grow. You may have different motivations for listening to a podcast, depending on your goal. You decide how to document your learning while listening. Here are some strategies that we have found helpful:

  • Select relevant podcast topics with your colleagues.
  • While listening, jot down your notes in your smartphone’s notes section. Doing so will help you keep track of important information and revisit it when needed.
  • Share your thoughts in a digital space, such as a shared Google Doc, Voxer (a walkie-talkie app), or a text thread. This allows for the cross-pollination of ideas and learning from each other.
  • Utilize graphic organizer templates to capture your learning through a variety of pathways that incorporate a combination of text, recordings, annotations, and even collaborative discussions via digital tools.

Post-Listening Discussion and Reflection with Intention

Providing time for reflection encourages educators to critically analyze their practices and learning journeys, while gaining fresh insights, listening to diverse viewpoints, evaluating the effectiveness of instructional methods, identifying areas for growth, and expanding their teaching repertoire. Moreover, this discussion promotes self-awareness, empathy, and adaptability, enabling educators to meet the evolving needs of their students with intention.

We have modified the See, Think, Wonder strategy for visible thinking into a podcast-friendly approach known as Hear, Think, Wonder. This approach encourages individuals to ask themselves these questions:

  • “What am I hearing? What stands out?” These questions spark interest and set the stage for deeper exploration.
  • The next step is to think about connections: “What am I thinking? How does what I hear connect with my classroom and instructional strategy?” This phase encourages critical thinking and meaningful reflection.
  • Lastly, participants consider, “What are my wonderings for the next steps or implications?” This open-ended query promotes curiosity and forward thinking as participants dive into leveraging podcasts for professional learning.

After listening individually, it may be helpful to answer the following questions within your professional learning community:

  • What insights or ideas did you gain from the podcast?
  • How can you apply these insights to your teaching?
  • How can you utilize podcasts as a learning pathway in your classroom?
  • What questions or concerns do you have after listening to the podcast?

By harnessing the power of podcasts, educators can stay up-to-date with educational trends, connect with others, and find inspiration to invigorate their teaching and learning practices. Simultaneously, integrating podcasts into your classroom can spark curiosity and foster a limitless love for learning. We invite you to embrace the world of podcasting, unlocking new opportunities that enrich your educational journeys. Keep tuning in and sharing your insights. Together, we will learn and grow—one podcast at a time.

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