This Thursday will be the 50th episode of the Educator Escape podcast. I know what you’re thinking, “Wow! I didn’t know you had a podcast! What’s it about?!”…Or at least those are the reactions I get when I tell people that I know about my podcast. Yeah, it sucks when family and friends ask you “How is that blog thing that you are doing going?”…But hey, nobody didn’t struggle to get to the top of their field, or at least that’s what those people at the top say. It’s not like I have a chip on my shoulder or anything…
But in all seriousness, it has been quite an interesting journey to episode 50. When I started, I honestly wasn’t sure how things were really going to shake out in terms of what the show was going to look like. I was still teaching at the time, but I knew that I needed to reach teachers before they went to summer break, so I rushed my first couple weeks of episodes before I probably should have. But, I believe those first few weeks of the podcast is really when I started developing a vision of what I wanted the show to be. I was interviewing teachers, talking personally about topics in education I honestly had no business discussing, I gave people advice on how to best manage their lives during the summer and the school year, and I talked about news from education every week with some great guys. In all of those things, I realized how much not only I was getting out of talking to teachers, I felt like a lot of the teachers that I talked with didn’t have anywhere else to go with their stories. I felt like I was sort of becoming an informal storyteller with a hint of therapy involved. I loved hearing teachers tell their story and that’s what Educator Escape has become; the synchronously told story of teachers everywhere.
I have to admit, when I say teachers everywhere it has been a bit slanted towards Missouri and Indiana, just because those are the teachers I have known that are excellent in their craft and had a great story to tell. I have reached out to many more who have simply not responded, but nothing is held against them. Teachers are among the busiest people to ever exist, except for maybe air traffic controllers, so finding time to speak to a complete stranger some time in their schedule is quite a feat, and is not lost on me. I have talked to a one-room schoolhouse teacher from Michigan, a teacher in rural Arizona teaching to mostly Native American Students, a budding (newly published) poet, and author, a stay at home mom from California, a parent and student education activist from Minnesota, and many other stories within my Midwestern home base. I have loved hearing every one of their stories and I can’t wait to hear more.
Because I took this job, it meant that I probably needed to stop teaching full-time, at least until I could figure out exactly what the podcast looked like. So because I am not teaching, my wife is calling this my sabbatical year. I looked up the word sabbatical and found that its root word is “Sabbath”, which means to rest in the Greek. I can tell you that this year has not been restful. But if you look at the word Sabbatical on dictionary.com, you find that one definition that is given is “an extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.” I like what is said after the word “especially”. Rest. Rest sounds great! But then after the rest comes “acquire new skills or training, etc.” I feel there has definitely been some more “etc.” involved in this sabbatical. I have learned so much during this time about how to manage time, about building my networking skills, and about all of the things that I will steal once I find my way back into the classroom.
I will definitely be back teaching full-time in the classroom. Some time. I don’t know when that is going to be. It might even be next month. I am not sure. But I know that I will walk into that week armed with the knowledge of 40 or so other teachers. Yes, I have been using you all for my personal and free professional development. Nobody has caught on yet! Let’s see how long I can keep this going! I am hoping to get it to Enron-like proportions, minus the shady business.
But in all seriousness, this has not been easy. There has been quite a bit of frustration centered around getting people to listen, technology not cooperating, scheduling falling through, scrambling for interviews because your interview was accidentally deleted, trying to figure out the complicated world of social media, constant rejection, and minimal gains to listenership. I am sure all of you have grown tired of my bombardment of Instagram-style posts. But I think I am going to make a breakthrough soon! That leads me to what’s to come.
I want to tell you that there are some unique features coming. There are life-changing student projects, teachers living in schools with four-day school weeks, and the battle of teachers who are working two jobs because they can’t live on their teacher salary. I am trying to harness the teacher voice the best that I can, and I am going to try and capture as many as I can in the hour a week I have been given to tell those stories.
So please, if you have been along for the ride so far, know that your support has not been overlooked or forgotten. If you have yet to listen to an episode whatsoever, I encourage you to get on the train now. I promise that the product is only going to get better as I become better at the craft I have been given to create media. And teachers, this podcast is for you. I hope that you are truly able to take those 30 mins or hour a week to relax and decompress from your life. I love you. Keep doing what you’re doing, because if you didn’t, you would try starting your own podcast and it would probably be better than mine, and I can’t have that!
Thanks for reading!