Sunday, May 26, 2024

Unpacking the Backpack

The social media landscape has changed quite dramatically when I first arrived in the space back in 2009. To put things in perspective, Instagram and TikTok were years away from existing, and Facebook was the dominant tool of choice.  At that time, Twitter was emerging as the preferred space for educators to connect, and blogs were the go-to source for relevant ideas and strategies.  My foray into the digital world began with the little blue bird, and I have never looked back.  Being a connected educator opened my mind and eyes to what was possible and enabled me to move beyond comfort and fear to evolve into a more effective leader. 

After being invited to participate in the one-and-only Google Teacher Academy for Administrators in 2010, I followed up on a goal I had set there to establish a blog. While this was one of the scariest things I ever did professionally, as I never saw myself as a writer, I decided to dive in and share my thoughts and the work in my school.  Needless to say, I have been at it now for fourteen years.  While I don’t blog as consistently as I once did, I still find it my preferred way to reflect and share what is working in effective teaching, learning, and leadership. 

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, change is constant, especially in digital spaces. Tools come and go, but behaviors also change. We are also seeing a shift in how people prefer to consume information, from reading to listening.  From my lens, I see this as a reaction to all the demands on people’s time. Podcasts are “the” thing right now. Everyone seems to have one, and educators have several cued up and ready to go all the time. Listening to a podcast in the car or gym is much easier than reading a blog post.  While I still love to write and will continue to do so, the writing was on the wall. Thus, I decided to begrudgingly enter the space with my own podcast.

Unpacking the Backpack was born in consultation with my daughter. After coming up with a name, I used Canva to create the art. Below, you can see a description of my podcast.

Join us on Unpacking the Backpack, where we delve deep into the ever-changing world of K-12 education. In each episode, we'll unpack the complexities of teaching, learning, and leadership with a practical lens. Listen in as we:

  • Discuss real-world challenges 
  • Explore innovative approaches that are evidence and research-based 
  • Learn from educators and leaders on the frontlines
  • Gain actionable insights and strategies to navigate the ever-evolving landscape 

This is your one-stop shop for practical guidance and a deeper understanding of the incredible world of K-12.

Now, my podcast is going to be different from others. From a time standpoint, I couldn’t rationalize creating every episode from scratch. I also knew that I had a goldmine of content on my blog. Here is where I came up with an idea for how artificial intelligence (AI) might be able to help. This led me to search to see if there was an AI tool that could convert my blogs into podcasts. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that such a tool existed in the form of Leap AI.  Talk about simple.  All I needed to do was supply a link to a blog post, and in less than a minute, a professionally scripted and sounding podcast was created.  It even sounds like my voice. 

In addition to using Leap AI, practitioners will be invited to the podcast to discuss the most pressing issues in education and realistic solutions for implementation.  I am excited about this unorthodox journey into the realm of podcasting by repurposing fourteen years of written content into audio form.  

Look for it on Spotify and where all your favorite podcasts are found. 

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