They say that these are not the best of times
But they’re the only times I’ve ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own
Now, I have seen that sad surrender in my lover’s eyes
And I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It’s either sadness or euphoria
Today is July 11, 2016. For many it’s a day like any other. For myself, today is the closing of a major chapter in my life. For the last 5 years, I have had the privilege of working with educators, educational leaders, edtech companies, and most importantly … students. For the last 5 years, I have seen the rise and fall of several trends, ideas, concepts and companies who all started with good intentions but for some reason faltered along the way. For the last 5 years, I have had the privilege of getting to know several great people reach high and turn their ideas and passions into companies that impact millions of students and communities. As Bon Jovi might put it: I’ve seen a million faces … and I’ve podcasted with them all.
On July 11, 2011, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned until I finally crawled out of bed, turned on my computer and registered the domain TeacherCast.net. The idea would be simple. A learning platform where teachers can come together and share their stories, their passions, and their experiences helping students in their classrooms. What has happened since then has been nothing of an amazing ride.
Today, I am very proud of the accomplishments of TeacherCast and what TeacherCast has been to so many students, educators, school districts, and businesses. It’s still weird to think that it all started with an Apple and a Morterboard. A single concept that turned into a logo that is now a globally recognized brand in the educational community. It is a concept that if you are reading this … you are very much a part of. “A Place for Teachers to Help Other Teachers” was one of the first ideas that hit me when coming up with my vision for TeacherCast and it is the guiding force behind the work I will be doing from this point forward.
“For we are always what our situations hand us”
Music has always been a deeply routed motivator for me. It wasn’t easy this past year walking away from what was a 14 year career as a Music Educator. TeacherCast has allowed me the freedom to put myself and my family on a path I couldn’t ever imagine. However … on the other hand … TeacherCast always had a single vision. The vision for TeacherCast was to be a one stop marketplace for learning. Sometimes that learning took the form of a podcast where other times it took the shape of a blog post. We say that our students learn Aurally, Visually, and Kinesthetically. My philosophy is pretty simple… If students are learning that way … shouldn’t adults learn the way too? Every educator knows what it is like to be both a teacher, parent, therapist, best friend, and most importantly, coach. Forrest Gump might say that students are very much like a box of chocolates. I take on a slightly different perspective on this.
I don’t believe in children. I also don’t believe in adults. What I do believe is that we are all amazing human beings and have the power of doing great things. Let me explain what I mean by this. We seem to teach students one way …. and then walk into an adult filled professional development session and attempt to teach a different way. Why is this?
In the orchestra world, we put a large number of people in a single room … arm them with weapons of mass distraction … and try to get them to all have a common goal, common idea, and common sound. It’s the real definition of insanity… yet this is done every day to great success. When we work with youth orchestras, we play music and we talk about musical concepts such as rhythm, pitch, and pulse. We might say to the group: “A little louder in this section” but we ultimately find the words and the meanings behind those words to hopefully capture the spirit that the composer intended when writing the piece of music.
In the adult orchestra, we come together and in order to put on a performance, we talk about musical concepts such as rhythm, pitch, and pulse. We might say to the group: “We need more of a Forte sound in this section” and by using words that are slightly more at the level of the group we find the meanings behind those words to hopefully capture the spirit that the composer intended when writing the piece of music.
What’s the point …
Instead of looking at teaching and learning and differentiating behind teaching children and teaching adults, when TeacherCast was created, it was created with the intention of being a resource for all learning styles and all learning levels. It is in fact … whatever the learner needs to be at that time when information is needed.
Vienna Waits … But Should We Visit?
In the late 1970s, Billy Joel penned a song called Vienna. It was written with his father in mind, about a utopian society where no matter who you were, you were still viewed by society as being useful or having value. Billy once spoke in an interview about Vienna and the elderly population who had nothing to do but go outside every day and sweep the streets. But by doing that, they were serving a function and their value was important to their community.
I take this message with me where ever I go. Everyone …. every student, every teacher, every business … every lesson plan, has value. No matter what their abilities or needs are there is a reason why we should all come together and help each other out. This, I think subconsciously is where the “Place for Teachers to Help other Teachers” came from.
Slow down you crazy child
You’re so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you’re so smart tell me why
You are still so afraid?
In 2011, I was working in a large high school in New Jersey. I was one of the “early adopters” of technology and because I was in a brand new Mac lab, I had access to technologies that other teachers did not have in their classrooms. I started having teachers ask me about the things I was doing in the classroom and those questions became the thought bubbles that eventually led me to create the concept of TeacherCast. Eventually, I learned that the questions my teachers in my school were asking me were the same questions being asked worldwide. It was clear at a very early stage of TeacherCast that the ideas I was writing about and podcasting about were not local, but global topics. This bothered me. This meant that students were not being serviced to the best of our abilities and that teachers didn’t know where to go for answers on how to help their classrooms.
Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?
You better cool it off before you burn it out
You got so much to do and only
So many hours in a day
I think it’s important for teachers to be able to have one or two steady content streams they follow each day. Not every website can cover every topic. It was because of this that as soon as TeacherCast could physically handle the traffic it be put in a place where it could accept guest posts. Currently, TeacherCast is the home to more than 50 educational bloggers who from time to time share their passions on the guest blog. Every blog post no matter the concept has a place on TeacherCast and provides support and inspiration for the rest of the content on the website.
Slow down you’re doing fine
You can’t be everything you want to be
Before your time
Although it’s so romantic on the borderline tonight
As a musician, you are an individual player performing as part of a section as part of a large group. Your sound must blend in with the others around you and you must take your lead from the ideas of the conductor and from the intentions of the composer.
In the educational media landscape TeacherCast walks the borderline between being a podcast, an educational newspaper, and a blog. Where I can’t quite put into words how difficult it is to try and “compete” in the same space as full time popular bloggers and be seen next to multi-million dollar ed-news companies while at the same time trying to find an audience in the audio and video networks, what I can say that is that I am very fortunate enough to have made very strong friendships with leaders in all of these fields.
This past month at the ISTE conference, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a friend who is a high level editor at a large edtech news organization. We were able to sit and talk shop about where the trends were, where technology is leading learning, and so much more. We also had the opportunity to talk about blog post philosophy and how to create a searchable heading to your articles.
Similarity, I had several powerful conversations with friends who you routinely see on big stages who all were trying to convince me of the value that TeacherCast has in the world and how much they are proud of me and the work that TeacherCast has grown.
Over the last 5 years, I have had the opportunity to work with amazing teachers, administrators, and educational venders. The one thing that I am certain about is that we are all in the game together trying to do what’s best for students.
Too bad but it’s the life you lead
You’re so ahead of yourself
That you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you’re wrong
But you know you can’t always see when you’re right
Just as we say you can’t see the forrest through the trees, sometimes you can’t always see your faults. I am also very thankful for the many educators who not only have become friends but true mentors. There are great educators in this world who I can reach out to and get advice on teaching, job interviews, leadership, life, and parenting. TeacherCast has provided me the ability to have these people surrounding me and my family. I can’t say that I have a perfect track record with everyone, and I have certainly made mistakes along the way. I always try to consistently say Thank You to these amazing people when they help me out or when something positive comes from conversations we have.
You got your passion you got your pride
But don’t you know only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true
I started this post off by saying that today is the close of a chapter. It’s been 5 short years but it also has been 5 long years. TeacherCast has helped me grow my brand, grow my career, and grow my family. I think it’s safe to say that the last 5 years has been the most ambitious period of my life. I am currently looking forward to starting my second year at an amazing school district while having fun this summer with my amazing Edutriplets. TeacherCast gave me all of this.
Slow down you crazy child
Take the phone off the hook
And disappear for a while
It’s alright you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you.
As the first chapter closes, I look forward to announcing the next phase of TeacherCast in the coming weeks. One thing is for certain. You will be seeing much more of that Apple and Mortarboard. This year, ISTE was unbelievable and instead of working harder, I made a decision to work smarter. These next few weeks will be all about digging in and redesigning what the future of TeacherCast the brand will look like and I hope you will continue to come along for the ride with me. I am excited for all that is to come. A great person once said: “Stay Hungry … Stay Foolish” This is exactly what I intend to do both personally and professionally with the support of my family, my PLN, and of course with your help.
Announcing a new adventure
I’m not sure if you are supposed to reward yourself for hard work. I’m not sure if you are supposed to stand up and say “Look at Me World … I Did It!” That is never the intention of my work. It is often said that the Conductor of the orchestra is the only person on stage to not make any sound and that they should take none of the credit for what the musicians can obviously do without them being on stage. It is for these reasons why TeacherCast for the last 5 years has never been “TeacherCast … by Jeff Bradbury” In April, when I redesigned and relaunched TeacherCast, I made a very cautious and conscience decision that was very difficult to make. On the front page of the website is a photo of myself, and the words “Founder/CEO.” This is a major shift in philosophy for me and one that I did for the betterment of my family. Also this spring I had the opportunity to speak at a TEDx conference and had a blast standing on the “big stage” and sharing my passions.
For these reasons, I am launching a brand new version of my personal website: JeffreyBradbury.com. This website will work very different to TeacherCast. It will be the home for my thoughts on all topics, not just edtech. It will become the place for me to write about the topics that might not be classroom related, but are about my experiences with my family, or perhaps about business topics. This website will also be a place for me to house all of my show notes for my workshops, presentations and keynote speeches.
Please take a moment and check it out. I am very excited about the possibilitites it may bring myself and my family. It was a heavily suggested activity that many friends in the education and edtech world suggested and it took me 5 years to be able to stand up and put myself on on a platform ahead of TeacherCast.
Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feeling alright
Once again … Thank You for allowing TeacherCast to be the home for your professional development. I look forward to learning with you for the next 5 years.