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Review: "Mind Shift" Podcast by Marc A. Gonzalez

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Mind Shift is an excellent podcast for anyone in education. First, it is produced by KQED, a widely-trusted name in the support of education. Second, episodes are seasonally released, allowing for time to research, prepare, and focus on responsible, current reporting (this is not to suggest non-seasonal podcasts are unreliable). Third, and perhaps most important, they are anecdotally based with research supporting every discovery and tip.

I’d like to focus this review on the third aspect, the anecdotal. Teachers, administrators, librarians, lunch staff, custodians, front office employees, students, parents/guardians, coaches, etc. love to share their stories, whether with a crowd, a partner, a friend, or a co-worker. It’s in its interviews and reporting of educators’ stories that Mind Shift separates itself from many other pedagogical podcasts.

As a third-year teacher, I thrive on learning from the experiences of my colleagues, especially those who teach different content areas and those who have taught longer than me. As I continue in my teaching career, I will add newer teachers’ experiences to my conversations so I won’t lose the perspective of that early-career thrill and discovery. However, between the discussion and story swapping I find comfort and value in the areas of expertise and experience explored in Mind Shift’s episodes.

A few episodes to start with:

“Down with Toxic Positivity”-8/3/2020. This episode provides several incredibly simple rules and thought processes for maintaining a healthy work environment while not falling into the “toxic positivity” column. I found that, though I am not one who would be defined as displaying toxic positivity, I do flirt with some of its behaviors. The authenticity of creating not just a safe but brave space, and to share true feelings without shunning the negatives, is what fuels an honest, healthy school environment. We’re ALL going through this pandemic, and expecting positivity at all costs with no room for venting or acknowledging the tough days will ensure a burnt out staff and student body.

“Why Ninth Grade Can Be a Big Shock For High School Students”-9/11/2018. This episode spoke to me, specifically, because of my involvement with several teams/committees at my high school. Not to mention that, as a theatre teacher, I have ninth graders in nearly all my classes, and most of my classes are comprised of ninth graders. This episode showcases Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, CA, a school I had a plethora of friends attend as I grew up in the Bay Area. Helping develop the ninth graders to be the school’s future leaders will pay off in droves when you start right away. Get those students plugged in, encourage them, and don’t let them just become victims of “Freeeeeeeessssh-mennnnnn” chants at rallies and locker-stuffings as part of the “hazing” of being “FRESH-MEat.” Ninth graders deserve the best high school experience, I think we can all agree on that. So, in lieu of lip service, let us be educators who do the service of ensuring a successful four years for our ninth graders.

“Teaching Six Year Olds About Privilege and Power”-9/17/2019. Kids get it. They get fair and unfair. But are our elementary school educators going the next step and using that fair/unfair discourse as part of their curriculum? In this episode, listeners receive insight into how first-grade teacher, Bret Turner, brings this very discussion of privilege and power into his classroom. There doesn’t have to be a separation when it’s embedded into the curriculum. Plus, it engages students in discussions and thoughts which will absolutely matter as they grow older and, perhaps, make them more aware, as adults, of how privilege and power have been used as a harnessing mechanism for underserved populations.

Mind Shift is currently in its fifth season, and has remained a consistent joy for me to listen to as their short-form episodes drop every few weeks. I encourage you to add Mind Shift to your commute or workout or weekend morning routine; you will learn from those whose experiences are worth learning from.

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