Reinventing PD with a Podcast

This quote, from John Quincy Adams, speaks to me on many different levels. The son of a great man, John Quincy realized that leadership is about actions. And how those actions impact other people. But it is also how we go about acting…

I’ve spent the past few weeks revisiting the American Revolution through the eyes of John Adams (John Quincy’s father) in the HBO miniseries. The show won four Golden Globe awards and thirteen Emmy awards, more than any other miniseries in history. In the documentary style drama a few things are made clear to me that I missed before.

First, it takes a great deal of debate and diplomacy for any type of lasting change to take place. The amount of time it took for the Continental Congress to deliberate their options made the final decision that much more impactful.

Second, John Adams was the voice of the Revolution, as much so as Thomas Jefferson was the pen. The many first hand accounts of the Congress make it clear that John Adams spent most of his time working to persuade the delegates to come to an understanding that independence was the only option.

Through it all, Adams led through his actions. He was not afraid to speak up for what he believed in, and would gladly share a dissenting opinion regardless of how he would be viewed afterwards.

His son, John Quincy, became as important a figure in American politics but I believe the quote about leadership says what he thought about his father. He was a leader because he acted with intention.

The Choice to Share

A few weeks ago I wrote about “Leadership as a choice” we make. When we choose to share our opinions, experiences, and insight we thrust ourselves into leadership (sometimes whether we want to or not).

I did not think about this when starting a podcast with John Spencer. We launched the Classroom Questions podcast because we wanted to answer every day questions that teachers are asking.

As the podcast began to take shape, our discussions sometimes became heated debates, other times we took on personal topics, and we also had a good many episodes where we agreed. Yet, something happened that I did not expect.

John and I began to rethink professional development. We were learning just as much from having these discussions, as anyone could be from listening to our conversations. Professional development we realized is not something that is done to you but instead it is something that you actively participate in.

We created the “Teachers Leading Teachers Conference” to expand this discussion where real teachers talked about topics and shared their insight with other teachers in the classroom right now.

The online conference showed me how powerful this type of conversation can be, and how many leaders we have that are choosing to share what has worked for them (and what has not) in their classrooms.

PD as a Participatory Process

There seems to be a groundswell of teachers, leaders, and students who are re-imagining what professional development can look like. From Edcamps, to Twitter chats, to collaborative blogging, to online conferences, and Facebook book studies…PD is becoming much more of a participatory process, and much less of a death by PowerPoint experience.

Before we took a summer break from Classroom Questions, we talked about the changing nature of professional development in 10 episodes. I hope to continue this discussion in the coming months by taking more action towards creating a relevant and meaningful professional learning experience for every educator.

As John Adams showed me, it is our actions that create change, and you may never know the possibilities until you take the first step.

Classroom Questions Episodes Below
(and be sure to check out these other awesome education podcasts)

CQ 043: How do I set up a successful blended PD session?

John and A.J. continue their Blended PD discussion and look at what makes it a success.

CQ 037: Do teachers need a Genius Hour too?

John and AJ talk about “Genius Hour” and why teachers need a time to work on projects and do things they are passionate about…and why that means it shouldn’t always be connected to education.

Recommended Resources:

CQ 035: Should every teacher go to an Edcamp?

John and A.J. talk all things “Edcamp” in this episode. Should teachers try out an Edcamp? Is it valuable for every educator? Learn more about this type of un-conference in the show.

Recommended Reading: 

John talks about his recent TEDx experience in this solo show and what makes sit and get work (and not work) for professional learning.

Recommended Resources:

Picture via Saboteur365

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  • AJ, really generous post. I’m a huge fan of the ‘John Adams’ series. Have you read the book it’s based on by David McCullough? The John Adams biography was one of the books I came across after I’d finished uni, in my ‘lost’ phase. John Adams, Michael Faraday and Paul Erdos are the heroes I found in my local library. They inspire me because of their dedication to what they care about; politics, electricity and mathematics. It’s amazing what people can do when they dedicate themselves to the thing they care about most. I’m seeing it everywhere now.

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