01

Catch Some Vrain Waves


  • Written by: Anna Gerber
  • Photos by: Aaron Ford

Episode 01 of the Vrain Waves Podcast. View all episodes here.

St. Vrain Valley Schools is recognized nationally for leadership development and teacher training

“Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whenever it is – you are catchin’ some Vrain Waves.”

Each episode of Vrain Waves begins the same way – listeners are invited to catch some “Vrain Waves” (a play on words for brainwaves) brought to them “from the banks of the St. Vrain River in almost-always sunny Longmont, Colorado.” The audio podcast’s co-hosts Becky Peters and Ben Kalb are dynamic, well-prepped, and witty as they host conversations with “edu-celebrities” and thought leaders who are shaping education. The finished product is an engaging, accessible, and entertaining 45-minute conversation that connects and inspires teachers throughout St. Vrain and beyond.

Peters, St. Vrain’s Coordinator of School Support, and Kalb, an Instructional Technology Coordinator, are both former classroom teachers. The two met through a district leadership group for school support professionals, where they were able to share research, trends, and education best practices with their peers. Through that group, they realized the value of finding the time to interact and share ideas with their colleagues.

“There are so many amazing things happening in public education,” says Peters. “We wanted a way to share that more broadly with the world.”

With approximately 60 schools spread over 411 square miles, the pair is tasked with overcoming geography to offer an informative resource that supports busy teachers. To do so, they interview people they call “giants” in education and other disciplines, like business and psychology, usually spending around 4-6 hours preparing by reading their guests’ books and collaborating on questions.

“We want to make it applicable to counselors, principals, building leaders, staff, and parents,” says Peters. “We try to get a good sampling of people who have written books or done research, and keep each episode a balance of theory, ideas, and practical applications that somebody can use the next day in class.”

“There are so many amazing things happening in public education. We wanted a way to share that more broadly with the world.”

Becky Peters, Coordinator of School Support

Podcast

/ˈpädˌkast/

A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.

  • Download and listen on Google or Apple Podcasts
  • New episodes released every other Monday at 5:00 a.m.
  • Episode runtime: 40-60 minutes
  • Join the conversation on Twitter: @VrainWaves
  • Notable guests - Daniel Pink, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Dan Heath, Sylvia Acevedo, Cal Newport
stvra.in/vrainwaves

Over the past two years, Vrain Waves has hosted conversations with some impressive names, including bestselling author and former vice presidential speechwriter Daniel Pink, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, bestselling author and business professor Dan Heath, and Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo. Topics range from thoughtful explorations of leadership development and pedagogical theory to helpful tips and tricks for harnessing creativity, utilizing technology, and maximizing energy.

What started as a fun way to connect a big school district has now grown into a podcast with listeners in all 50 U.S. states and more than 80 countries around the world. It has also become the largest professional development class in St. Vrain, with more than half of all district teachers earning credits toward their relicensure requirements by listening and writing thoughtful reflections. Teachers around the state can also take advantage of the portability of the unique professional development format to earn credit that is certified by the Colorado Department of Education.

Alpine Elementary School kindergarten teacher, Elizabeth Lennert, was introduced to Vrain Waves as part of an assignment for a leadership class she took two years ago. Since then, she has continued to listen as she earns professional development credit and explores new ideas that impact her teaching.

“I really like being introduced to leaders in the teaching industry and their writings,” said Lennert. “I often learn of books, blogs, and other podcasts that dig deeper into the topics that I’m introduced to on Vrain Waves.”

In addition to new resources, the topics on Vrain Waves have given Lennert valuable references with real life applications.

“When colleagues and the leadership team at my school are faced with problems or concerns, I can offer advice by referencing a Vrain Waves episode that I have listened to and how other experts have approached the same problem.”

“We want to help teachers keep their practice fresh, to see their practice in a different light, or to feel that they have a greater level of efficacy in their room and with their students,” says Peters. “I think that makes a big difference for all kids who have teachers who are listening.”


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