listening and learning: Mark Smilowitz’s Classroom Teaching podcasts

My sabbatical is almost over. I return to teaching classes in a week and a half, after an 8-month, much-needed hiatus.

I’m not dreading the return. I feel well rested, even freshly optimistic. I’m not having panic attacks. (I was dogged by chronic hyperventilation syndrome the whole of last August, until I woke up on August 26th, the first day of the fall semester, and my body accepted that I really wasn’t going back to school. The hyperventilation instantly vanished.)

Instead, I’m feeling eager, curious and ready. I’m in the thick of preparing my first few weeks of classes, and loving the process. I’m excited about my courses (one is brand new; the other I haven’t taught in several years and I’m thoroughly revising it.) I’m even looking forward to meeting the challenges. (We’ll see how long that lasts, but it’s a good starting point.)

In some ways, the best part of this period is dipping into books, blogs and podcasts about teaching, to get my mojo up. I’ve discovered a podcast that I’m loving: the Classroom Teaching podcast from I don’t remember how I found the link; it might have been on someone else’s blog. I’ve you’ve seen this link recently, or posted it up recently, please let me know so I can give proper credit to whoever pointed me to it.

The Classroom Teaching podcast is the work of Mark Smilowitz, a Judaic Studies middle school teacher, originally American, now working in Israel. Each podcast explores a nugget of educational theory, replete with concrete, everyday examples drawn from Smilowitz’s and others’ classroom experience. Smilowitz’s clear, friendly (yes, smiley) and no-nonsense tone makes you want to be a teacher like him before he’s said more than a few sentences. And although he’s talking about teaching students younger than mine, in an educational context very different from mine, I’m finding his mini-essays on classroom management, student questions, and, especially, the role of the teacher very inspiring and reassuring.

So go check him out. You won’t be sorry.

And wish me luck on my return to the real world; here’s hoping the enthusiasm lasts and grows.


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