A school district in Southern Illinois has started a podcast.
The hosts are three educators from Triad Unit 2 who interview the teachers and staff there. Each episode offers insight into a day at school or advice for how parents can get involved in a child’s education from home.
The podcast is called “After The Bell Rings.”
In some episodes, host Amy Van Hoose will talk to teachers about ways they think parents could ask students to apply the concepts taught in classrooms. Van Hoose is the curriculum coordinator for the district.
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Third-grade teacher Tess Dawson, for instance, explains in the second episode how cooking with children could help them practice their math skills. Host Adam Geisen said the district could have given parents that idea through the traditional methods, but with the podcast, they can get it on their own time.
“That’d be a great thing to have as an open house at one of the elementary schools, but you’re not going to have nearly as many show up if they have to schedule to come in for an hour,” Geisen said. “If they’re driving somewhere, they can listen to it and get the same kind of information.”
A podcast is a digital medium. It comes in audio or video form, which can be downloaded or streamed to a computer, smartphone or other device.
Host Mike Wielgus said podcasts are basically “on-demand radio.”
“I listen to podcasts on my way to and from work,” he said. “I don’t even listen to the radio anymore. I just tune in to the podcast and go, and it just automatically advances to the next episode.”
When Geisen and Wielgus are featured on “After The Bell Rings,” they’re talking about technology — how teachers are using it in their classrooms and how parents could use it at home.
They work as instructional technology coaches in Triad schools, which means they spend their days helping teach and motivate teachers to use the technology that’s available to them.
The podcast also aims to help parents prepare for certain milestones, such as creating an individualized education plan for students who need special education services, which is the subject of the third episode with school psychologist Tricia Aukamp.
It’s not a new idea to have podcasts, but it’s a new idea for a school district to have a podcast and communicate this way, so ... it’s all open to us.
Adam Geisen, one of the hosts of the “After The Bell Rings” podcast
Van Hoose said future episodes might tackle things parents can do to help as their child transitions from eighth grade to high school or begins applying for college.
Another idea is to offer advice for what to do if a child is bullied, including the questions parents should ask their children and teachers.
“It’s not a new idea to have podcasts, but it’s a new idea for a school district to have a podcast and communicate this way, so ... it’s all open to us,” Geisen said. “We’re not copying other people’s ideas or duplicating what’s been done, so it is kind of an exciting opportunity.”
Van Hoose said they want to hear from parents, too.
“We’re just excited for people to listen and give us ideas as to where to go and what they want to hear,” Van Hoose said. “If they want to hear it, we’ve probably got someone who can talk about it. We have a wide range of talents in this district.”
Triad has six schools that teach children from pre-K through high school.
How to make a podcast
Wielgus and Geisen said they’re fans of podcasts. They had talked about recording their own even before “After The Bell Rings.” Then, Van Hoose came to them with an idea: to use the medium to talk to parents.
“I’m a little newer to podcasts, but once I started listening to them, it was immediately like, ‘Why aren’t we doing this as an avenue to get information to our parents?’” Van Hoose said. “I was a teacher for nine years and parents always ask, ‘What can we do at home?’”
Van Hoose said everyone brought something to the table to help make it happen.
Geisen had experience recording music. He helped find the equipment they needed.
Wielgus had an interest in technology and graphic design. He made the podcast’s website and designed a logo.
They set up in a quiet office and started recording in December.
Listen to the episodes online at afterthebellrings.org or on a smartphone through Apple Podcasts or the Stitcher app.