The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.
Teachers prize efficiency. If we can organize files while we listen to a colleague talk about a great new book she discovered, we’ll do it. Respond to student work while we wait in the car-pool line? Done. In this way, podcasts are a teacher’s dream, especially when you, or your professional learning community, are starting to build background knowledge about a big idea.
Recently, I’ve been using podcasts to add perspective to my ongoing work around social justice in education. Books like Everyday Anti-Racism, The New Jim Crow, and Creating the Opportunity to Learn have served as important touchstones to build a vocabulary and vision for thinking about social justice in teaching and learning. Favorite articles that have added layers to my thinking include “Teaching Trayvon Martin: Three Strategies for Teacher Educators,” “What Riding My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege,“ “Race and Americans’ Social Networks,“ “What White Children Need to Know About Race,“ “Starting with Secondly,” and “Racial Equity Requires Teaching Elementary School Teachers More Mathematics.“
Videos, too, have influenced how I envision social justice in action when working with students, their families, and the broader community. Some of the most memorable over the past few years include Building Oral Language, The Danger of a Single Story, and the arresting documentary TEACH; you can watch parts of it on YouTube here, or arrange for a viewing via Teach Now. And if you watch only one of the recommended videos in this paragraph, you should pick this one from a Key and Peele sketch called Teacher Center.
Podcasts are providing me with a fresh infusion of viewpoints about creating classrooms, schools, and communities that understand, value, and capitalize on the differences among us. Below is a curated list of podcasts that relate to education and social justice. I am optimistic about this new approach for efficiently maximizing my professional development efforts. With a smartphone and a pair of headphones, I listen while commuting, exercising, making dinner, or waiting in the car-pool line. I use the Notes feature on my phone when I want to remember an idea to discuss. I just pause the podcast, ask Siri to take a note, and start dictating.
Below, you’ll find links to the list of recommended podcasts. If you’re new to podcasts, there is also a resource with background about why everyone should be podcasting, and a “not-to-be-missed” two-minute video on how to get a podcast app on your smartphone.
Podcasts are not only a promising tech tool for professional development, but also give us opportunities to practice listening, an endeavor that an episode from TED Radio Hour describes this way: “Listening—to loved ones, strangers, faraway places—is an act of generosity and a source of discovery.”
Teachers know that when we practice what we teach, we improve our teaching and learning with kids. So, it makes sense that spending time listening (to someone other than the regulars—students, parents, colleagues) will improve our teaching craft, too.
New to Podcasting?
A podcast is basically a radio show that’s archived on the Internet so you can listen whenever you want to. If you’re new to podcasts, then you might want to read about their pleasures in this article from Forbes Magazine called “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Podcasts.” From there, if you’re curious and want to add a podcast app to your smartphone or other tech device, do yourself a favor and watch Ira Glass, with his friend Mary, explain, in less than two minutes, how to get the app.
Podcasts Related to Social Justice and Education
From The Hidden Brain
“Teachers and Students” 20:14 (In the classroom, common ground can transform GPAs.)
From This American Life
“Poetry of Propaganda, Act 2, Not Our Town” 15:00 (Children learn about income equality through a theater production.)
“Is This Working?” 1:02:48 (discipline in schools)
From Here’s the Thing (podcasted interviews hosted by Alec Baldwin)
“Bryan Stevenson Wants Equal Justice” 38:00 (an interview with the author of Just Mercy before it was published)
“Joe Berlinger” 19:00 (A reporter uncovers a story about three wrongfully incarcerated Arkansas teens.)
From On Being
“Opening the Question of Race to the Question of Belonging” 51:00 (an interview with John Powell)
Season 1 (multiple episodes for varying lengths)
Season 2 (multiple episodes for varying lengths)