While podcasting isn’t new, its widespread popularity is.
More than one-third of Americans older than 12 have listened to a podcast — basically an Internet-based radio show — a proportion that’s up from about 11 percent in 2006. But there are so many programs that knowing where to start may prove challenging.
Even in the relatively small world of education-related podcasts, listeners still have hundreds to choose from. In a crowded field, The Bedley Bros. EdChat is one of the best.
The Bedley Bros. EdChat is an independent, self-produced series featuring K–12 teachers and siblings Scott and Tim Bedley (who, between the two of them, have about 45 years of classroom experience). Tim teaches at Wildomar Elementary, and Scott teaches at Plaza Vista School.
With just a few exceptions, the brothers have released the show on a weekly basis since May 2015. While Apple doesn’t release download numbers, the 3,400 dedicated subscribers to the Bedleys’ YouTube channel and their 10,000-plus combined Twitter followers suggest that they’re connecting with educators and parents around the country.
Each episode opens with a series of sound bites teasing some of the stuff you’re about to hear and a theme song promising that the brothers are “bringing education information like no others."
The Bedleys generally act as moderators throughout their shows, offering brief anecdotes about their own experiences as educators before turning them into questions that allow their guests to talk at greater length about what they’re going through or thinking about. While the show’s guests all work in education in some way, they’re not all classroom teachers.
Some are administrators talking about large-scale changes they’ve made at their schools, some are consultants discussing ways to manage kids’ use of classroom technology, some are children’s book or young adult authors talking about the ways their books can be used in the classroom, and some are teachers working to promote the voices of students of color in public schools. Most frequently, the Bedleys chat with only one guest, but they’ve done episodes with as many as three — notably an episode featuring the National Teachers of the Year from 2012, 2013, and 2014.
After discussing a guest’s projects or specializations, the brothers try to stump their interviewee with a quiz. If the guest wins, a lucky listener scores a prize.
While it’s a very wholesome show (and as such would be appropriate for all ages), it’s probably most relevant to educators and parents. The former group could learn from the Bedleys’ shoptalk with their guests. They can also compare their own instructional methods with those explained on the podcast and perhaps get inspired by an innovative project — like an autobiographical baking/public-speaking assignment, or a mock trial in which a child, playing the author of a controversial memoir, is both represented and prosecuted by classmates.
Parents, on the other hand, might be able to get a better sense of the ways in which teachers think about their jobs and how they work to improve educational methods in an evidence-based way.
The guests are usually excellent. While the Bedleys are great at facilitating discussions, they’re particularly adept at getting really engaging people to talk about the issues that matter most to them. The brothers are also really honest about their own shortcomings in the classroom, a trait that can lead to rich teachable moments.
For example, in an episode with Jose Vilson (a New York City math teacher and social justice activist), one of the brothers admitted that he’s not sure whether he’s as “culturally competent" as he could be in the classroom. He asked Vilson for a thorough explanation of the concept of cultural competence, and this generated a constructive conversation about the ways in which, formally and informally, teachers can get to know their students as whole people with complicated needs and desires — and even beyond that, as parts of diverse and different communities.
There are more than 100 episodes of The Bedley Bros. EdChat; here are a few great ones:
This episode features a really candid conversation about race and compassion in the public school system. Vilson, creator of the EduColor movement (more info on which can be found at his website), is a passionate and articulate speaker who brings years of experience and activism to the podcast.
Goals for Teachers with Shelly Terrell
Come for Noodle Expert (and one of our 67 Influential Educators of 2015) Shelly Sanchez Terrell; stay for a great chat about the ways in which teachers can keep learning throughout their careers — especially with respect to ed tech.
Social Media in the Classroom with Ken Shelton
Ken Shelton is an energetic guy with big ideas about getting kids — and their parents — involved in school via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. He talks about the obstacles he’s faced in getting administrators, families, and students on board with using social media for educational purposes. He has lots to teach skeptics.
Noodle has no ties to or affiliations with The Bedley Bros. EdChat.