I spent the summer after my son Rayner was born, pushing his stroller around our neighborhood. I loved being able to get some fresh air and a little bit of exercise, about as much energy as I could muster with a newborn. While walking around, I found myself yearning for something to listen to that would engage my brain, so I decided to give podcasts a try. I immediately became hooked. There is basically a podcast for anything and everything.
Personal Growth through Podcasts
That summer I found 103.3 AMP Radio’s TJ Show  Podcast, and my guiltiest of pleasures, Bachelor related podcasts. From there I started listening to teaching and education shows, such as the STEM Everyday Podcast  and Fizzics Ed , and learning new ideas for my own classroom. Spending the summer listening to people talk about their interests and finding myself connecting with people I have never met, simply from listening to their voices, made me want to do the same. So on a whim, I decided to start my own podcast.
Connecting with Others
One of my favorite parts of being a teacher is being able to connect with other educators and talking with people from all over the world whom I can bounce ideas off of, ask questions, and gain fresh perspectives from. I decided that’s what I wanted for my show; to be able to learn something new from my guests. As a result, I have bettered my own teaching practices, have met some incredible people (virtually and in real life), and have an awesome new hobby that I honestly never thought possible. Nowadays, I listen to countless podcasts a week. I find myself thinking of the people I listen to as friends and even mentors, and wishing I could meet them in real life. A few times, the opportunity to meet other podcasters has occurred, with one of my most memorable being when I met TJ, Loren and Producer Matt from Boston’s 103.3 AMP Radio’s The TJ Show . I would Tweet to them about their show and eventually those Tweets turned into them coming to visit my classroom last year. The power of Twitter is so incredible! They spoke to the students about working in radio, choices they have made in life, and what it’s like to follow your dreams even if the pathway there is not easy. Their visit to my classroom was one of the most impactful moments in my teaching career. The students gained so much, and I gained an even greater appreciation for radio broadcasting and following your dreams.
Student Voice with Podcasts
Podcasting has increased my motivation both in the classroom and outside of it. It’s given me the confidence to not only try something new, but to reach out to people I admire and want to connect with. This thrill and excitement is something I also want to pass along to my students. So this year, in my new teaching role as a STEAM Lab teacher, I thought, what a perfect time to help the students create their own podcast episodes. Many of the students are mini experts; they love something so much that they try to learn all about it. Podcasts are a perfect way for students to show off their knowledge and excitement for a topic. In giving the students an outlet to express themselves, they not only are teaching and connecting with others, but they are learning more about themselves. It provides students an opportunity to have a say in their learning, and to try something new that might even be a little intimidating. In thinking about my own experience, and in encouraging the students who are unsure, I like to say, “Anyone can podcast!” because it’s so true. All you need is a way to record yourself and a platform to share it.
Never did I think my summer of walking around with the stroller and listening to podcasts would lead me to creating my own podcast, presenting at MassCue, or connecting with so many new people. But in taking a giant leap of faith with my first recording, I have positively changed the way I teach forever.
Tori Cameron is a STEAM Lab specialist teacher at Gordon W. Mitchell School in East Bridgewater, MA. Her podcast is called STEAM Up the Classroom and can be found on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud or her website steamuptheclassroom.com. If you would like to reach out to Tori you can find her on Twitter using @steamuptheclsrm