If you had to list the three most influential people in your life, who would they be? Odds are that at least one of those people is a teacher.
Students appreciate their teachers because they are role models, pitch in when kids need them most, and support their dreams. Teachers empower us in thousands of ways throughout our most formative years. And most people realize that teachers have some of the hardest jobs out there.
94% of Americans say we should do more to recognize good teachers.
We couldn’t agree more.
That’s why Refactored is supporting a novel project aimed at supporting the amazing, creative, and rewarding work of teachers at every level.
Teachers Talking Teaching is a video podcast that celebrates and elevates the work of teachers. The producers and hosts are working educators from Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado. Together, they have more than 40 years of classroom experience. Tracey Bean is a 5th grade teacher, and Dr. Traci Gile is an educator and Superintendent of Elementary Education for PSD.
The show is available on YouTube and Facebook, and is published via Spreaker to a number of podcasting channels, including Apple, Spotify, Amazon, and others. Episodes feature insights from teachers and education experts on topics from classroom management and curricula to behavioral science and continuing education. The positive and passionate conversations inform, inspire, and celebrate the expertise and innovations of working teachers.
Bean and Gile finished their first season of the podcast with seven episodes and have recently launched new episodes for the fall of 2022. As with any promotional, thought leadership, or marketing program, the first foray into a new medium is a learning experience. As we were preparing the fall recording schedule, the two producers joined Rob Bean, Refactored Partner and Marketing Strategist, to share what they’ve learned.
Thinking of a Podcast? Start with Inspiration
Clearly you have a true passion for what you do—but you also have a passion for sharing what you learn with others in your profession. How did you get the idea to share through a podcast?
Gile: For me, the idea started when I attended a communications presentation on telling positive stories about education. I’ve always felt that our profession’s status should be elevated. In other countries, education seems to be more respected. In our country, it doesn’t seem to be respected or valued in the way that other professions are.
For me and most of the professionals I know, teaching is truly a lifelong pursuit—every day striving to be a better version of yourself because the mission of serving kids is so vital to our communities. Education is essential to the future of kids individually. But it’s also vital for the health of our economy and citizenship overall. So I believe it’s something our society should value more.
A National Education Association member survey revealed that “a staggering 55% of educators are thinking of leaving the profession earlier than they had planned.”
Bean: The pandemic put the hardest parts of teaching on display. The last three years were really traumatizing and there is the potential for a mass exodus from the profession. We wanted to bring some positivity back to it.
We focus on telling the stories of the amazing educators who we work with and learn from every day, and who inspire us to improve our practice. We want to really highlight the positive experiences that people are trying to bring to the kids in our classrooms.
We didn’t start with the idea of “celebrate and elevate,” but we’ve used those words so much that they have become our mission. We started by making a list of people we already knew as experts, and that became the source of content for the whole first season.
Balancing Content with Video and Audio Production
What were your expectations going into the project? How have you balanced the time commitment, process, and production elements? And why is it a good idea to get help with the technical aspects of production?
Gile: I don’t think we had a clear expectation of episode length at first. We started out aiming for about 30 minutes, and we’ve had some episodes turn out to be double that. We found that the episodes grew longer because the topics were so engaging.
We start with pre-planning—creating topics and inviting our guests. Because we know them and know their area of expertise, we have developed a conversational format. To use our time most efficiently, we try to stack two interviews back to back. We shoot it all at once and Rob edits the video. We publish one episode that same week, and the next episode the following week.
Once the video is edited, Rob exports the audio. We use a platform called Spreaker that helps us distribute the content out to a variety of podcast outlets.
Bean: If it were up to us, the show would have been just us talking into an iPhone. If Rob hadn’t taken on the technical elements, we wouldn’t have even considered the idea of filming for video rather than just going straight to podcast. We relied heavily on his research and his understanding of how to best market a program like this to our audience.
Now, instead of a traditional audio podcast, we’ve ended up with a show that’s produced more for video first—and it also happens to work as a podcast. The video-first approach changes the dynamic of our show. Because it’s visual, it emphasizes the interactions between us and our guests.
If you’re wanting to try something new and get it up and running quickly, having a partner for the technical elements takes away the startup anxiety.
Go where your audience lives
Rob: We know video and we know that it sells well. The issue for this show was that we didn’t have a built-in audience.
We needed to take the show to where the audience would encounter it naturally, so we chose Facebook.
Most people are used to seeing video content on Facebook, and when you’re putting up videos regularly, they’ll get used to seeing you in their feeds, presenting content that’s different form your personal posts.
Audience Development: Boosting Engagement with Shorter Bites
How are people responding to the programming? And how have those responses guided your planning for the topics and format of the next season?
Gile: We are surprised and pleased that people are watching. When we’re out in town, people stop us and tell us that they liked it. We knew that we were excited about it, and we hoped that other people would enjoy it. But it’s continually a pleasant surprise that’s it’s been so well received so early.
For the next season, we plan to cover a range of age groups and content areas. And as we expand our technical capabilities, we’ve talked about even interviewing people in other cities and states through Zoom. That would enable us to talk to people we follow as fans—well known education professionals and authors.
Bean: We’re also reaching out now through our contacts, local principals, and other teachers to get suggestions for topics and interviews with people outside our immediate circle. We’re already getting suggestions and recommendations from the audience as well.
Measure and optimize
Rob: Through the first season, the YouTube channel has gained over 50 subscribers. That isn’t a huge subscriber pool—the unsubscribed viewing audience is actually much larger—but it’s enough to give us data, including how long people tend to spend viewing. That helped us learn that we needed to shorten the segments.
In the second season, we’ll break the content into two pieces: we’ll celebrate the teachers in one segment and elevate their work in a separate conversation. Episodes will be published more often and give people smaller bites to consume.
Video Podcast Considerations When You’re Starting from Scratch
What tips would you give to others who are considering a video podcast? What top questions should they answer before they get started?
Gile: I think the first thing is to know your audience. Ask "Who is this for?" And "What need is this serving that doesn’t already exist?"
We knew that our audience was fellow educators, and we talked about what would be unique about our content. For us, the point was sharing the positive stories about our profession. And we also wanted to be sure we were sharing engaging information that people could take and use in their own teaching.
Bean: It’s helpful to think through the logistics. How often will you publish? How will your topics and guests affect your production schedule and timing? Will your topics be time-sensitive, or can you pre-record them in advance? For instance, in some of our early episodes, we were talking about spring break trips, but that content wasn’t going to be published until late April. So we needed to consider whether what we were saying was timely.
Rob: When you’re building a channel from scratch, you need to think strategically about how it will grow but also be patient with it. Start by learning to do it right. Then you can work on doing it at scale.
There will be challenges, but any large project is just a series of smaller tasks. None of this has to be overly expensive or complex.
Keeping it Fun
What makes this video podcast worth doing?
Gile: The thing that’s really rewarding for me is how much I enjoy the conversations. We’re talking to people we respect, and they have so much to offer the teaching community. I love hearing them feel proud of the work they’re doing. And having them be recognized and see that someone else thinks that what they’re doing is worthy of sharing. I don’t think that most teachers get that level of appreciation for their work. So it’s validating for them.
Bean: For me, I’m learning new skills on the fly. But we like to talk teaching, it’s what we live and breathe. So to have a place where we share our love of our profession and our love of the people we respect so much—to elevate them, talk about how cool they are, and let the world know about the value they bring—that has been really rewarding.
Rob: We’re truly proud to support this program. The content is rich, hands-on, and insightful—and it provides in-depth discussions about topics that teachers really care about. We look forward to helping Tracey and Traci continue the conversation—and build their community.
See what we’re talking about—and share with your community.
Season 1 topics
Episode 1 | New Beginnings
Episode 2 | Lessons From the Pandemic
Episode 3 | Modern Behavior Theory
Episode 4 | Bring on the Music
Episode 5 | Rethinking Elementary Math
Episode 6 | Rethinking Middle School Math
Episode 7 | Rethinking High School Math
Season 2 topics
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