Pub Talks for Educators
I like to talk. I sometimes say I do my best thinking while talking. I am also learning to listen. Listening has been a balm to me during these fraught months, learning what educators, families, students and communities need and want from their schools. Other than the live conversations I have organized with Edjacent contributors, my second favorite way to listen is The TeaTime Teaching’s Podcast, hosted by my friend and colleague Mark Diacopolous.
Mark has been an educator for over 25 years. He has taught in middle and high schools both in the US and UK. An early adopter of educational technology, he has worked as a Technology Specialist and Curriculum Specialist in social studies for a large district in Southeast Virginia. He earned his PhD. in Curriculum and Instruction in 2018 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Leadership at Pittsburg State University in rural Kansas. He has a keen interest in how to best teach future teachers, issues of professional identity, technology teaching and learning, critical friendship and communities of practice. . He is thoughtful, caring and passionate, as evidenced by his recent Edjacent post Teaching is a Political Act and his Twitter feed @Markdiacop. I am honored to work with him and eager to deepen his connection to Edjacent through a series of facilitated Pub Talks.
What is a Pub Talk?
Mark and I imagine pub talks to be the kind of conversation teachers have when they are off the clock, but near like-minded colleagues. For me, these are the conversations I have at Friday Happy Hours, around fire pits, over coffee, on the phone as I’m driving to or from work, any time I really need to talk about something that is bothering me about educating. The topics are rarely specific, although they may be in reaction to something specific. They are lofty, systemic and beyond my span of control. Sometimes they drain me from the emotional weight of all I cannot change, but more often they give me energy and the will to continue the hard work I have dedicated my life to.
For our first Pub Talk, Mark and I spoke with two social studies teachers from Virginia Beach, Virginia about the upcoming election:
Chris Jacobs is the lead teacher in an interdisciplinary high school experience know as the Innovations Lab, or I-Lab for short, which Mark describes in a recent TeaTime Teaching episode as “a groundbreaking and humane way to approach learning in a high school setting.” He also authored a prolific Edjacent blog post last March titled Envisioning Learning and Blended Online School Scenarios for the Next 18 Months and Beyond. I encourage you to check out the archives of the i-Lab Twitter @GRHSiLab (one post for every day it has existed!) and follow @ChrisJacobsGRHS
Jared Fritzinger is an 8th grade Civics teacher at Old Donation School, an academy for gifted students. As his students and colleagues know, before teaching Jared delivered sandwiches and worked in a mail room while he toured as a drummer in various punk rock bands and brings a subversive perspective to his classroom and education viewpoint. He is author of several popular posts on the Edjacent blog, including Simple Truths From an Educator in the Wild and Don’t Fool Yourself, Education is Politics. You can learn more about his latest passion project, facilitating generations of ODS students as they convert a retired school bus into a mobile sustainability lab. You can follow him on Twitter @jaredfritzinger.
In our first pub talk, Mark starts with a compelling question:
What’s at stake this election?
Our responses quickly turn from the election toward other, broader concerns, as is often the case with national politics. With just one more day before the election, I am filled with apprehension, concern and hope about what the next several years can look like for education and educators. We will continue this particular conversation, shortly after the election and several months down the road.
Listen to the conversation here.
We also invite you to participate in a future Pub Talk. We will be inviting panels of speakers and sharing recordings, but also inviting wider audiences to share a conversation with us. Bring your favorite beverage, from the pub or a cup of tea, and enjoy conversation with dynamic leaders from our schools with big hearts and open minds about what is possible in education. Look for future invitations, or contact us to get started!