“Welcome to Teach ‘Em Up. The podcast of teaching and learning,” STEM teacher Nick Williams says as he greets his listeners on his podcast.
Williams created a podcast through which he explores teaching and learning methods with teachers and administrators on campus. Teach ‘Em Up has been streaming for two weeks but Williams has been recording and interviewing teachers for months. Within the weeks that it has been released, between five episodes, it has averaged more than 900 downloads.
However, starting a podcast was not Williams’ first idea.
“I have a friend whom I grew up with that is a professor at the University of Alberta who encouraged me to write a book,” Williams said. “I started sitting down and trying to write a table of contents and quickly realized I didn’t want to write a book.”
While still wanting to show the behind the scenes of the teaching process, Williams turned to recording teacher interviews instead. Using a software called Audacity, he gets together with fellow educators to discuss topics about teaching. Williams’ podcast has featured Art teacher Eleni Katsaros, History teacher Rob Watson, STEM teacher Michelle LaFevre-Bernt, Math teacher Sara Davis, Athletic Director Dennis Davis and Principal Mark Sims. These podcasts include topics such as what it is like being a teacher and how to be an effective teacher, starting small academic programs, having school spirit, and getting involved? high school sports.
For each podcast, Williams gives his guests a brief overview of what they will be talking about. Williams does not prepare questions beforehand, instead, he comes up with questions while he records so that the podcast feels more relaxed and casual.
“I first found out about it when seeing something on the printer in our department about it. [There was] a table of contents kind of list for the podcast series and my name was on it, so I approached him and asked him about it and agreed to do it,” LaFevre-Bernt said. “I was nervous about it beforehand, but he did some of the talking. It wasn’t just me, so it was more comfortable than a typical interview.”
LaFevre-Bernt’s episode begins with her speaking about how her teaching career began to kick off after she was laid off as a senior scientist. She mentions that while she was looking for another senior scientist job, she was working as a long term substitute and teaching a period of high school Biology . During her job interviews, she found herself thinking of how she could turn her research into a lesson for her students. She then launched her teaching career when the school she substituted at had an opening for a chemistry teacher. Williams and LaFevre-Bernt also discusses the logistics of starting and managing a small academic program such as the biotechnology program on campus, and how it functions.
Williams plans to expand his podcast beyond San Marin, hoping to talk to other teachers from different grade levels and different towns. He eventually plans to have students join the podcast.