Ayers Institute launches new podcasts series focusing on stories

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Earlier this year, the Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning & Innovation released the first episode of its new podcast series, “My Why: Stories of Inspiration from Educators.”

This is the second podcast series produced by the Ayers Institute following the topic-driven education source, “Lunch and Learn.” Compared to its predecessor, “My Why” is more story-driven and personal. Both series continue to produce new episodes and contain downloadable resource guides to be used for personal or group professional learning.

Rachael Milligan, managing director of the Ayers Institute and assistant dean of the Lipscomb College of Education, said the idea of this new series is to “elevate the profession of teaching and talk to educators about why they chose to go into the educating profession and hopefully encourage others to become teachers.”

Milligan hosts the series with behind-the-scenes help from Julia Olstean, technology integration specialist for the Ayers Institute and instructor in the Lipscomb University College of Education, and Forrest Dodington, content technology specialist in the college.

Each episode features an experienced educator, from preschool to higher education, who shares their love of teaching, or their “Why” in six words. Only seven to 12 minutes long, the episodes are kept short and meaningful, the content is centered around the speaker’s “six word memoir.”

Olstean said this new series really has to do with the culture of the profession.

“In the field of education we know there’s a teacher shortage, and a lot of teachers are leaving the field once they get there,” said Olstean. “We wanted to do something to really encourage teachers out there.”

The hope is that each episode will inspire professionals to reflect on their own passion behind teaching.

“People connect to stories,” said Milligan. “Educators spend their lives working to inspire others so it seemed a very natural fit to really target and focus on educators inspiring other educators too.”

The series currently has five episodes published, featuring experienced educators in K-12 schools, higher-education universities like Lipscomb, and Tennessee Teacher of the Year Cicely Woodard.

“We try to really find those people whose stories are already resonating to a certain degree,” said Olstean. “The main goal is spreading the good news of teaching.”

The Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning & Innovation is part of the Lipscomb University College of Education. Founded in 2012, the institute works closely with the Ayers Foundation to provide innovative, professional resources to support teachers and leaders across Tennessee and beyond. “Ayers Lunch and Learn” and “My Why: Stories of Inspiration from Educators” can be listened to for free at podcast.ayersinstitute.org or on iTunes.