Phil Schoff and Phil Horender can’t take full credit for starting their podcast, The Missing Chapter, and they’re more than OK with that. Their students liked their co-teaching rapport, and missed it during quarantine, so they suggested their history teachers do a podcast. Then, a former student introduced them to Anchor, a free podcast hosting platform. The rest is, well history. Five months later, they are podcasting weekly, and much to their delight, their students are listening. Here’s why they started a podcast for their students and how it’s changed their teaching for the better.
If only we had more time…
Because their history class is 40 minutes long, the Phils were always wishing for more time. Podcasting allows them to extend students’ learning beyond the lesson plan. Students can listen when it works for them. They can stop, pause, and listen at their own pace. The podcast reveals unknown stories to the most popular events or forgotten stories that you won’t find in a typical history textbook. It’s so fun that entire families are listening.
It’s easier than you think
Time is the biggest barrier for teachers. Funding comes in at a close second. The Phils realize that many of us might think podcasting is too make to take on, especially this school year. They found that it was easier than they thought. You can create, edit, and distribute all on Anchor, and it’s free. The only purchase they made? A Yeti microphone, which is a nice to have, and around $100.00.
Students have time on their hands
The Phils noticed that while students have a lot of school work to do, they’ve had more time. Especially this year as the pandemic put extracurriculars and social plans on hold. Knowing that their students were looking for new sources of entertainment was another reason why they started a podcast for their students. During quarantine, students shared, “I still feel like I’m in your classroom.” The podcast was a way for them to stay connected to their teachers. For quieter students or students who weren’t passionate about history, the podcast became a conversation starter. Suddenly they were hearing from students that rarely spoke up.
Relationships are stronger than ever
The biggest pandemic teaching lesson? We aren’t just teaching students. We are getting students’ through their lives. Teaching history became secondary to relationships and connections. Questions like “how are you doing” and “did you eat breakfast” came first. The podcast was a way for students to stay connected to their teachers. Even when they couldn’t see them in-person, they could listen to their podcast and hear the conversation and rapport that they loved so much. Former students started to listen as well. The Phils were humbled by emails where students wrote, “I feel like I am back in your class again.”
Make a bigger impact and keep leveling-up
Another reason why the Phils started a podcast for their students? They wanted to level-up and get outside their comfort zone. They have 32 years of combined teaching experience but never want to just go through the motions. The podcast was a way to try something new and teach students beyond a lesson plan. They’ve come to realize that they’re creating history while they’re talking about it. Students are now interested in creating their own podcasts, and the experience has been therapeutic this year. Both Phils feel they are better teachers because of it. It’s not uncommon for students’ families to listen as well, and their colleagues and admin have been 100% supportive.
The Phils’ tips for starting a podcast:
- Keep it optional. It’s an opportunity to extend learning, not one more thing.
- Keep it budget-friendly. Invest in a good microphone, but that’s it!
- Keep it conversational. Don’t get caught up in making it perfect. Be yourself.
- Keep it open. Invite colleagues, staff, and students to contribute.
- Keep it going. Work with content you’ve got and get a few episodes ahead.
- Keep it fun. Share your passion. And remember, everyone loves a good story.
Have you started a podcast for your students? Are you thinking about it? Please share in the comments!