When I first walked into Rachel Swartz’s classroom in the Bronx, I was struck by the messages of positivity pouring from the walls. There were bulletin boards that said, “Lift each other up,” “Bullying is never ok,” and “Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.” And I thought, “This is the kind of sixth-grade classroom I want my child to be in. Should we move to the Bronx?!"
I’ve known Rachel for several years, but knew little of her as a teacher. Suddenly, I wanted to know the story of the teacher behind all these messages of inclusivity and self-worth.
Last year, we started talking about what an HMH podcast would be—what message would it send? Two things rose to the top in importance:
- Giving voice to teachers and letting them tell their stories
- Uncovering what the education industry can learn from other industries in order to improve and grow
And with that, the idea for the HMH Learning Moments podcast was born.
[NOTE: As of 2021, HMH Learning Moments has been split into the Teachers in America podcast and the Shaping the FutureTM podcast, available separately wherever you listen to podcasts.]
Hear From Teachers in America
It seems that everyone has a stake in education. Everyone has been through school, has or knows a child in school, and has a perception of what teachers do and don’t do—and what “benefits” they have.
But do we really know what teachers are going through? How can we put ourselves in their shoes if we only go by our impressions as a student (long ago or not so long ago) or parent unless we hear from them directly?
SHAPING THE FUTURE is a trademark of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Unless we can see things from teachers’ vantage point, we can’t say we know what they do to help each student get to the next level of understanding. We can’t know how difficult it is to truly know each of the 30+ kids in each class in each period of the day—to know not just their skill level but also what may be upsetting them that day that is distracting from their learning.
When we set out to record the Teachers in America series, we wanted to give teachers a platform to tell the story of what it means to be a teacher in America today.
How Are We All Shaping the Future?
For the second part of our podcast, we asked, “What is the essence of learning and of education but to gain and give knowledge?” And so, what can we, as employees of a learning company, learn from principals, superintendents, and teachers to get better at what we do every day? At the same time, what can superintendents learn from CEOs? What can curriculum directors learn from the latest tech innovations? How do we bring these learnings into the classroom to prepare students for their future? We hope these will be honest, open conversations that will shine a light on some of education’s biggest needs.
In capturing these stories, the intent is that teachers and education leaders can make connections that will impact the learning experience for every student. Our objective is that listeners can leverage these conversations to improve our education system—and make things better for teachers and kids across America. We hope you enjoy them!
Check Out Our New Podcast
The Teachers in America podcast series highlights the lives and careers of real teachers who impact students in and out of the classroom. Teaching is far from just testing and grading; it requires a dedication to shaping students’ lives. This podcast series aims to change misunderstandings about the role of teachers today while exploring the issues that matter to educators most. Tune in!