Written By: Hans Appel
A month ago, we dove into the deep end of the technology world with the launch of our #AwardWinningCulture Podcast. Over the next year, I’ll be detailing specific ups and downs of this journey; while peppering key takeaways along the way. Our plan is to release 1 or 2 new episodes each month.
After extensive practice and conducting several student-led interviews so far, here’s some big picture early thoughts on fostering Student Voice through Podcasts:
**Students are capable of WAY MORE than we give them credit for. WAY MORE! I’ve been completely blown away by how much better they are at picking up podcasting techniques compaired to the adult educators involved. In fact, several of my student leaders had never even listened to a podcast and were making incredible suggestions and mind blowing ideas DAY ONE. This generation has grown up with social media and technology in such a way that their skills are malleable beyond belief. I look forward to highlighting our kids brilliant thoughts and insights this year.
**We’re not there YET. But, we’re improving EVERYDAY. By keeping centered on a growth mindset, we're all able to focus on incremental improvements with continuous and obsessive passion for getting better. I’m so excited to see where we are in a year from now but would NEVER want to skip over the JOY that we’re all having on the daily grind towards success. We’re coming for IT!
**There’s a learning curve to students getting accustomed to their voice: both literally and figuratively. Allowing practice time for students to listen, evaluate, and alter voice recording is critical. Tone, pitch, rate, etc. all play a role in how they sound. This can only be realized through personal observation of one’s own voice. Additionally, finding their own style and comfort level takes time. If your a regular subscriber to our show, you’ll see an incredible evolution of sense of self for these 12-13 year olds over the next 6-9 months. What a fun way to help foster self discovery!
**Student Ownership is Key. They have to be involved in all areas of production (brainstorming, pre/post, practice sessions, branding, music, research, question development, etc.) Even the design of our podcast space has student fingerprints all over it. Success in fostering student voice lies in the balance between guiding and support. This podcast is providing the adult educators with a master class in how to teach, facilitate, and cheerlead, all at the same time. CHALLENGING! We must create conditions that allow students to be themselves while playing to their unique strengths.
**Interview Guests must receive full Wildcat Nation experience. Whether this is a live, in studio guest or a phone interview, folks who donate their time/energy to be on the show deserve to have an Award Winning Culture experience. I’ll be writing extensively about this in future blogs but think about it this way: some of the authors, experts, speakers, and leaders we’ll have on this year have been interviewed frequently. How will we make their AWC experience memorable?
**You don’t CONTROL Robin Williams. Have you ever watched an interview with the late great comedian Robin Williams? If you have, you know...you can’t control the interview. His rare comedic talent was a sight to behold. The most successful hosts always stepped back and let Robin shine by abandoning their need to control the questions and pace of the format. Allowing our podcast guests to have fun and be themselves is essential. Not only are comfortable guests more likely to open up and share authentic insights. The BEST material seems to come from the least scripted parts. Furthermore, this strategy of enticing unscripted moments is great for our students as well. While it’s great to have a plan or template for each show, and it’s particularly important when working with adolescent voices; there’s an element of whimsy that really creates the magic in each episode. We’re not there ‘YET’ but we’re slowly working on it.
**This is one of the most UNIQUE and crazy adventures I’ve tried in my professional life. Why on earth, I thought I could create a podcast that asked teens to be themselves when they DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO THEY ARE YET...Insane! But here’s the thing...INSANELY AWESOME! I have the privilege of helping outstanding teens wrestle with things like CHARACTER, LEADERSHIP, and their PERSONAL WHY. And these students who are brave enough to do this, in such a public forum are providing such a special gift for teens, educators, and parents around the country. The magnitude of this new path we’re forging is not lost on me. This promises to be a life changing project for all involved!
Award Winning Culture takes intentional and sustained effort towards excellence. As our students model RISKING TAKING, SELF DISCOVERY, and STUDENT VOICE a question remains:
Will YOU and YOUR STUDENTS take the imperfect journey of “Voice Lessons” with Wildcat Nation by SUBSCRIBING to our podcast?
Link to our Award Winning Culture Podcast Webpage
About the Author
Hans Appel has been a school counselor in the Richland School District for the past 17 years and at Enterprise Middle School since it opened. He's passionate about school culture, servant leadership, and kindness.
Enterprise Middle School received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness. By creating a culture of kindness, service, and empathy we've taken student leadership to an epic level.