Ali and JoDee talk with Eric Friedman, Director of Digital Learning at the Kennedy Center. They explore the qualifications of teachers and why leaders, hiring committees, and managers should advocate for an educators resume.
And stay tuned to the end when they even share their favorite Kool-Aid flavor, because - hey, why not?
💼 Eric Paul Friedman
Connect with Ali and JoDee:
Ali’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alisimon/
JoDee’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodeescissors/
Teachers are natural innovators, entertainers and problem solvers. They dream of growing old into the profession, teaching their kids kids. But sometimes career goals shift or change, and that makes opportunities outside of the classroom seem intangible. Questioning who am I, If I'm not a teacher? I'm your host Alexandra Simon. And I'm your co host, JoDee Scissors. This is The Great Teacher Resignation.
Welcome to today's episode of The Great Teacher resignation. I'm gonna pass it over to my co host, JoDee to introduce our guest for today, Eric Friedman.
All right, it is my pleasure to introduce Eric. He is the Director of Digital Learning Education Division at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Eric has been an educational leader for over 30 years, from getting Boston Area charter schools off the ground in the 90s to developing graduate level online degree programs at Boston University. He even made his professional development mark in public broadcasting. He's a fierce advocate for access, equity and inclusion, a proud parent of two young adults, and is married to an educator.
JoDee has just been singing your praises since I met her. And I've been eager to meet with you because I just hear such awesome things. So welcome to the show.
Thanks, Ali. And thanks, JoDee, I hope I can live up to that introduction. And that praise. I'm I'm actually really flattered that, that you asked me to be part of the podcast and really excited to be here today. So thanks for having me.
Well I do want to tell our listeners why we wanted to have you on the show. And I've talked a lot about my transition and how I got to where I am today. And part of why I'm here today is because Eric was one of the first people that gave me a chance. He was one of the first people that saw my potential outside of the classroom. And I was living in a very uncertain time when I left the classroom. And when I went to this interview, I was late. I don't know if you remember that, Eric. But there was Joe had blocked off. This turned in Georgetown and I had to go all the way across the bridge. And I was like, this is not going well. And I was terrified. Those first few weeks of working, I felt like an imposter. I felt like I didn't know what I was doing. I really doubted my abilities and skills and you know, going from the classroom where you're just mobile all the time. And you're just confident every day going in. And I was like what am I what am I doing? Have I made the right choice. And slowly but surely, I learned that I did make the right choice. So thanks for seeing my potential and not giving up on me on those first few weeks where I was very timid. I take a while to warm up to people. But you did. And thank you for seeing my true value and also the true value of educators.
Yeah, well, you know, Jodie, it was really no problem where you were concerned, it was easy to see that potential you came in with, even though you might think you were timid. You came in with a lot of energy and great ideas right at the very beginning. And it was really exciting. And I don't remember you being late, so that you can even take off. Yeah, I mean, that that what you talk about, and I know we'll get more into this, but what you talk about as far as like that impostor feeling is so real. I know it myself, because I mean, I was a teacher and an administrator in schools for, you know, over 10 years before I ventured out into the world that I'm kind of currently occupying outside the classroom. So that that continues to be with me, I still miss the classroom. Luckily, like you said, I'm married to a teacher. So I hear about the classroom every single day, I get to know students that my wife is working with, but but I certainly still feel that sense sometimes. Like, am I really qualified to be doing the things that I'm doing that are not right you know, within the walls of a school, so I get that for sure.
It's really nice to hear that and, and I can also relate, I mean, it's a big jump when you transition into something outside of education, even if it's related field. And combined. JoDee and I, we've been drinking the teacher Kool Aid for over 20 years. We know what it's like we know what teachers have to offer an Eric You know what that Kool Aid tastes like too. And your role now is creating education content. So we're wondering as someone who hires people and sits on hiring committees. How do you advocate for the resume of a teacher?
There are so many things about teachers and you know, we've we've even covered some of that already just how qualified teachers are in so many different ways just by virtue of, of what they bring to a classroom. The teacher brain that I know you talk about, it's such a long list right of qualities from being resourceful to being dedicated hard workers to being natural project managers, because you have to be to being adaptable to all kinds of situations to being able to work with diverse groups of people, that teachers are fantastic listeners. So to be able to listen to different points of view, and then be able to be referees for those different points of view. I mean, that's what got me interested in education to begin with, that whole list of qualities continues to be what I think teachers bring to any job that they are pursuing. So when I think about the types of people that I want working for me, or people with whom I want to collaborate, when it comes to creating educational content, and just kind of this ability to think about pedagogy and andragogy, on a large scale, it's like those things are possessed by teacher. If there's a lineup of people in front of me and I, and I'm, in some of them have been classroom teachers, and some of them haven't been, I kind of know what I'm getting with those classroom teachers. I don't know what I'm getting with the rest, you know, I mean, obviously, that's not maybe 100% across the board. But I think it's it's pretty consistent those kinds of qualities that teachers bring to a job.
Yeah, absolutely. And we had a little bit of dialogue before today's episode, and one thing that you had mentioned, is that teachers have often had mentors, and they know the value of mentorship and do what they can to pass that on to others. And that's something we were interested in discussing with you today. I know, JoDee, you've talked about this before, with me, and I didn't know if you wanted to shed some light onto your experience with with having a mentor, mentorship and education and then outside of the classroom, how important that's been for you.
Yeah, I've really relied on strong mentors throughout my career to help me build a stronger repertoire. And so from the start of when I was probably a young child in the classroom, I relied on teacher relationships. And then it moved on to you know, when I played sports, that that coach relationships, and then as it gotten to my career, I needed that team leader, I needed that staff development teacher or that principal, or someone that someone in the building that could form a book club or a strong PLC, that can help guide me and make me better. And I had a lot of uncertainty transitioning if I was going to have those relationships. And that was something I really struggled with was, who's going to help me develop? And how am I going to pass along those skills and that knowledge and that wisdom, because I could do that in the classroom, I mentored teachers, I had a team, I was a team leader. So I could help build people up while others were building me up. And so Eric was a is an example of when I did transition, teaching me what I don't know, and building me up and helping me understand my gaps. He's one that can have tough conversations. But he's also one that will lift you up. And so that was really something that I needed transitioning not in just in my career, but also someone that cares about you as a person. It's important for you in a workplace, for someone that can help you professionally, but someone that cares about you. Throughout the past few years, I've had some pretty difficult, hard things that have happened in my personal life. And he's, and he was there to lift me up as a person, but also build me professionally. And I think that's a really good combination for a leader. And I know now that they exist outside of the school building.
Yeah, that's really powerful JoDee and, and thank you for all that you're saying. I mean, I think you know that, a lot of that, really, it's a two way street as well. Because, you know, you and working with you has really given me a lot of confidence. And you've trusted me and I think that's how we've sort of built that collaboration together. And, you know, you're talking a lot about mentoring, and coaching and advising and also about trust and about caring about one another. Again, what you're actually listing is also more traits about teachers as well, right? Because teachers have to be caring, they have to develop trust with their students, and they have to also support them, build them up, listen to them, give them a voice. So it's like mentor to teacher to student and then back up in the other direction as well. There's just this mutual sphere of support and connection and confidence that gets built up there.
Yeah, and a lot of what I think about discussing this mentorship idea is relationship building. Right? So teachers are really good at building relationships with a lot of different people. And so navigating personalities, people, but also, I think it's a two way street for teachers like on my team, I work in management consulting now. And when there's a new team member that comes on, and they need help with something, I'm eager to help them, I'm happy to help them because it reminds me of like, being a part of a planned learning community, being a part of a team. I'm not keeping my knowledge all to myself, I'm here to support my colleagues, I'm here to support my team. And I think that educators learn and they and I hope that they learn how to do well. It's, it's, it's hard, I think, for people who haven't been in education to totally understand the depth of the skills and the training that teachers have. And that's why it's so great to speak with you. Because you get that from both sides. Right? You see what it was like, having been in education, but now you're in a different world still supporting, right, but you can see how that maybe translates.
And your wife has been an educator for over 25 years, right? Yeah. So you still get a taste of what what it's like, you have that guidance to see the evolution of what's going on in schools.
Absolutely. And, and also to see the struggle in real time of loving the classroom loving being in the school loving being with students and other teachers, but the struggle of also feeling sometimes that lack of support, and that lack of validation for all of the work that she's doing. So that struggle, and that pull of maybe being in the classroom, being in a school is not the best place for me at this at this time. But so we talk about that a lot. And one of the things I'm able to do with her too, from experience, especially with you, JoDee is, is to talk about how you can make an impact outside the classroom as well, like, your impact can be just as real, it can be just as powerful, it's different. For sure, it might feel less direct. But like we said before, that guilt and that imposter feeling that is real too. But you can be connected. And you can have an impact on education on teachers, the education system, and other systems on teachers and students and students directly as well, even if you're not in the classroom every day. So you know, I think that's something that I've seen, through my experience with you. And through having a spouse who's a classroom teacher.
Yeah, that's something that I struggled a lot with, I felt the impact I made every day when I was a teacher and I built the relationships with my students, and I got to see them go to college and be successful. And, and I missed that so much when I left teaching, but I, I found other ways to use my skills that I had to volunteer in my community to build other relationships. It was hard for me, though, that it wasn't necessarily always a part of my day to day job. But it's really inspiring to hear you say that, you know, I can't forget that I do still make an impact. Even if it's not in a classroom, I'm still helping my community, I'm still helping the people that I do work with, we actually serve youth on the grant that I'm working on. So I know that it's not one on one, I actually feel very validated hearing that for you.
Good, I'm so glad to hear that. And then also as a content creator, which I know I don't know, JoDee, if you've even had a chance to look at it. We just got results from a survey that was done this spring, about the resources that we create for educators and students. I was I was overwhelmed reading through the comments today, there are hundreds of comments in there from mostly from teachers themselves, talking about how helpful what we created was for them and their students that just lit me up, you know, it's just like, wow, okay, here's the validation. For the most part, we just assume that that's happening, but to actually get it in the words of these teachers was really terrific. So that kind of relationship to education can happen. And yeah, it is a very different type of thing than a than an actual relationship to a student in a classroom. But it's all kind of the same thing, right? We're still talking about building relationships, but in a slightly different way, the relationship that that the work that we have, has two other educators, in this case, what we're doing at the Kennedy Center, and what I've done in the past too like, having an impact on educators around the world, you know, like that's Wow, okay, so that's, that's pretty cool. I can I can wrap my head around that. And I think I want more. I'm hoping and I know through your podcasts that more more teachers hopefully will hear this message of, there are other ways that you can apply all of these skills and characteristics that you've developed as a teacher that you've developed through mentors, and through your relationships with other educators and PLCs and etcetera and you can use those, those new skills and all of that knowledge in different ways.
So if you're looking at a teacher's resume, we know there's this standard resume. So I'm wondering as someone who works in the digital landscape, and I'm hoping that teachers will feel inspired by our discussion today too to know that how they can make an impact. But looking at a teacher's resume, what are the things that would stand out to you?
Well, well, like, I'll just make a quick link to something that I thought it was pretty funny coincidence, yesterday, I noticed that you've been, you've been posting some job opportunities on LinkedIn, as part of your LinkedIn account, TGTR business page, and almost all of them were instructional design jobs. And I thought, you know, that's pretty interesting, because actually had a whole team of instructional designers working for me at Boston University. And I've worked with instructional designers at other times and gone through instructional design training myself, the interesting thing to me is like, I'm not saying that all teachers should go into a career of instructional design. But it's the things that that a teacher kind of does all the time in terms of putting together lessons and teaching and being being effective as a teacher, all of those things are on the list of resume skills that most instructional design jobs require. So there are things like being able to create learning objectives and to align what you're doing with with a set of standards, understanding Bloom's Taxonomy universe of applying it, and analyzing and evaluating, evaluating and creating, being able to revise your work based on how things go in the future. And then adding in Technology and Instructional Technology, which most teachers, especially after these past two years, or you know, have have become much, much more familiar with technology in instructional format. So when I'm looking at a resume in terms of having someone who's going to work on educational content, or is going to work on resources, or even thinking about at the Kennedy Center, where the we're we're sort of operating at the inter of the intersectionality of the arts and education, where, where you can bring in that those qualities of what it means to put together an educational experience, and break those down into their kind of component parts. Those things are what I look for. And I think, again, especially in the world of instructional technology, which is huge right now at it at all levels, whether that's k to 12, or in higher ed or even in the corporate world, like all of those qualities are are what I think most employers are looking for
That was I hope, really helpful for our listeners who are thinking about going into instructional design are just related fields where you can take the skills and the different knowledge that you have, as an educator, and craft as JoDee mentioned crafting a resume, that's going to make an make an impression, make a positive impression, and we hope you get that interview.
Instructional design is just a fancy word for all the things that teachers do on a Promethean board or Smartboard, or the software that they use. So yeah.
Pretty much. And yeah, of course, because I just think that, you know, in any education related field, that the experiences that you have teaching and putting together lessons, and then even that the idea of linking the assessment that you're going to do to back to the learning objectives and kind of thinking about that, that whole idea of backward design. That's so so important. And important, really, like if you think about for any job, if you can do that, if you can see, like, the way that I'm going to be evaluating the work that I'm doing is by looking back at what I intended to do in the first place, like just that simple concept. Being able to express that on a resume that you have years and years of experience of doing that. That's really impressive.
Well, it sounds like you've drank the teacher Kool Aid too. You're part of our group. So we wanted to ask you and JoDee also what's your favorite Kool Aid flavor and truth I had to actually look this up so I don't even know I was just like red of course red but red it's not a flavor.
I think in Kool Aid land red is a flavor. I don't know when the last time is I drank actual Kool Aid but I actually think that purple was my my favorite Kool Aid flavor.
We don't even have the flavor. Yes, I love it. Okay, I actually have a flavor. It's cherry, and lemonade, combined with pineapple juice.
This must be a Texas thing. Never heard of that before. It does sound very sugary and delicious.
It does sound delicious.
If you want to keep up with Eric, you can find him on LinkedIn as Eric Paul Friedman, and we'll share that link on our socials.
If you liked The Great Teacher Resignation, give us a five star rating Eating and follow us on Instagram, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, Amazon Music and Audible. This episode was written and recorded by me Alexandra Simon, and my co host JoDee scissors produced by JoDee Scissors. Original Music Emoji by Tubebacker. Special thanks to our sponsor, Paper Planes ED.