There are many challenges currently facing the teaching profession, some specific to the UK others that are global. Problems include funding, recruitment and retention of teachers, workload and well-being plus more. Despite these undeniable issues I also think it is a very exciting time to be a teacher. I suggest this because of professional learning. There are now methods of professional learning and development that did not exist previously. Teachers are embracing professional learning and are able to take ownership of their own development and interests through a variety of strategies.
Teachers are no longer limited to one-off and expensive courses in a hotel offering CPD with questionable impact. Instead, teachers can now access excellent resources and learning materials wherever they are in the world and at any time that suits them. I would argue that some of the best professional learning now available to teachers is free or relatively cheap.
Previously, a professional network would include teachers from within a department or school setting but now, thanks to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, there is a global staffroom of educators. This wide and diverse professional network is amazing for promoting collaboration, support and ultimately a great way for an educator to share and learn from others. I began teaching in 2010 and whilst there were social media websites I was using, I never thought that it would be Twitter that would transform my practice and teaching career!
Another development in recent years has been the rise in popularity of podcasts. Podcasts are great because they are easy to subscribe and listen to. There’s a wide range of podcasts available and they are regularly increasing (both educational and non-educational). Podcasts are flexible in the sense you can listen to them whilst you are driving, exercising or relaxing. Everyone with a smartphone can access a podcast via Apple Podcasts, Anchor, SoundCloud and many more podcast platforms. They are also FREE to subscribe and listen to – brilliant.
I have been listening to educational podcasts for almost two years now but even then I thought I was late to the edu podcast party because I was completely unaware of all the different podcasts that were available for teachers! Since the publication of my book, Love To Teach: Research and Resources for every classroom, I have been invited to speak on various educational podcasts to talk about general teaching and learning. I enjoyed these conversations so much I decided to launch my own podcast last month – you can find, subscribe and listen to my podcast here.
For anyone that is new to listening to podcasts about education or you were unaware of all the great podcasts available for teachers (as I was!) then I have recommended and summarised briefly some of my favourite podcasts below. Please do check them out – there is a podcast for everyone. In no particular order …
Naylor’s Natter in association with TDT is a great podcast hosted by teacher and leader Phil Naylor. This podcast has a catchy theme tune, Naylor is really easy to listen to and very likable with his down to earth and humble approach to learning. As his intro song suggests it’s him … “talking to teachers”. Naylor describes his podcast as a “podcast where my guests and I muse over the latest developments in teaching and learning, evidence and research, CPD and leadership. I speak to teachers, leaders and experts in their fields.” His guests have included Tom Sherrington, David Weston, Kat Howard and more (I also featured on this podcast in the summer). You can subscribe to Naylor’s Natter here.
Cult of Pedagogy
The Cult of Pedagogy podcast is very popular with educators across the US and beyond. This podcast is hosted by Jennifer Gonzalez and she describes her podcast as “pure teacher nerdy goodness right in your ears!”. Gonzalez also adds that this podcast covers –
“Teaching strategies, classroom management, education reform, educational technology — if it has something to do with teaching, we’re talking about it. On the podcast, I interview educators, students, administrators and parents about the psychological and social dynamics of school, trade secrets, and other juicy things you’ll never learn in a textbook. Other episodes feature me on my own, offering advice on ways to make your teaching more effective and more fun.”
I particularly enjoyed the episode where Gonzalez interviewed Dr. Pooja Agarwal about retrieval practice in the episode “Retrieval Practice: The Most Powerful Learning Strategy You’re Not Using“, this was very interesting and informative. You can subscribe and listen to Cult of Pedagogy here.
The Mr. Barton Maths Podcast
Don’t be fooled by the title as this podcast isn’t just for maths teachers! This podcast has built up a very large following of loyal listeners and it’s not surprising why as the host, Craig Barton, is very knowledgeable about educational research and he has also managed to interview a wide range of well-known guests including Dylan Wiliam, Robert and Elizabeth Bjork, Alex Quigley and many, many more. There are some episodes that are specific to the subject of maths so I would highly recommend listening if you are a teacher of maths or share with your maths colleagues. You can find out more, subscribe and listen here.
The Learning Scientists Podcast
If you are keen to find out more about the science of learning then this podcast is for you! Hosted by the wonderful team of Learning Scientists which include Yana Weinstein-Jones, Megan Sumeracki, Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel and Cindy Nebel. This podcast contains interviews and discussions about topics such as implementing effective strategies, memory, dyslexia, dyscalculia and more. You can access and listen to all of their previous podcast episodes here.
Other podcasts that I would highly recommend are The Rebel Education Podcast hosted by my good friend Tom Rogers, DISMISSED another podcast hosted by another good friend and UAE based Principal Jeremy Williams where he interviews expats, educators, and entrepreneurs from across the world. There is also the TES podcast and if you are a teacher of AQA they have launched a podcast series to support teachers which you can find out more about here.
If you are a secondary teacher or middle leader there is likely to be a podcast(s) linked to your subject and possibly the topics you teach. As a history teacher I feel spoilt for choice with the following podcasts: BBC Radio 4 In Our Time podcast, Versus History and History Hit with Dan Snow to name a few.
I hope you have found this post interesting and it has inspired you to listen to a podcast or if you already do listen to educational podcasts then perhaps see what else is available. Podcasts can be very powerful when it comes to professional learning.