We got really deep in our last podcast season. The word accountability doesn’t exactly evoke flowers and rainbows, particularly in the context of schooling. Those conversations were powerful, real, and needed. But we (Toby, Kim, Michelle, Rachel, Buck, and Hollie) decided it was time for something a little lighter. This spring we are excited to launch a season that demands that we put down our stacks of work and go binge watch some Hulu. That’s right . . . we are looking at the ways that television and movies portray youth and schooling!
For those of us on the inside, representations of our profession can often be pretty annoying. (Take for example, the whole set of “savior” narratives in which the white teacher comes in with their unconventional methods and big heart and effortlessly changes an entire school culture.) But today we launch our season with what is perhaps the most entertaining and talked-about and (dare-I-say) possibly even realistic creative contribution to the genre: Abbott Elementary! Of course the best people to talk about it are our every-day south campus folks. Hosted by first grade teacher Michelle Portera, this episode features perspectives from Taylor Davis (PK3), Anna Frame (4th grade), Meredith Boler (2nd grade), and Sarah Rabke (our awesome newish permanent LS sub). Whether you are an avid fan of the show or have never even heard of it, you are going to love this episode.
3:53-4:50; 31:23-31:54: Why/how you should start watching Abbott Elementary immediately!
4:55-6:35: What Anna Frame’s favorite scene has in common with St. Andrew’s very own lost and found.
6:28-7:42: Why Meredith Boler loves the format: it’s so relatable.
7:46-8:58: How much the character Janine reminds us of our first year teacher selves, that one time Taylor Davis made the mistake of telling parents she was a first year teacher, and the age-old fear of young teachers everywhere: “What if I get to the number 3 and the students haven’t yet complied?!”
9:00-10:30: Michelle shares her own raw first-year-teacher-self story.
10:35-12:26: Why the substitute episode resonated big time for permanent sub Sarah Rabke, and a helpful reminder to us to include ALL the details in the sub plans.
12:43-14:05: The group discusses the most resourceful, loving, doesn’t-put-up-with-any-nonsense character: Melissa; also fun fact: if you need any Philly- translations to understand the series, make sure to ask our very own Sara Clark!
14:13-15:24: Why the aspiring-principal-turned-sub-turned-teacher Gregory reminds us of Jim in The Office; and how his “reluctance . . . turns into a really deep passion.”
15:45-20:22: Michelle plays a clip from the show and guests shout out all the Ava character love; she simultaneously incorporates all of the cliches of bad administrators, is so edgy and inappropriate, but underneath that there possesses heart, truth, and insight.
21:07-23:27: The group explores the character of Barbara, who represents the most old school, veteran, master teachers in our schools.
23:28-25:05: In what is my favorite moment of this podcast episode, the group discusses the young, progressive teacher Jacob who may or may not be compared with Anna Frame’s husband, Andy.
25:08-26:29: Guests explore the magical Mr. Johnson, eliciting a shout out to Greg Buyans and building managers everywhere, who do everything and know everything at any given time buoyed by a shocking amount of good humor.
26:31-28:15: It takes no stretch to find resonance in the bathroom/water situation episode for our south campus folks; Sarah recalls her first week on the job at SA this year: “Where am I and why is this happening?!
28:20-30:06: Guests predict what is next with Janine and Gregory’s relationship; and they discuss what happens at education conferences, stays at education conferences.
30:15-31:23: Lest we leave thinking the show is a perfect representation, guests end with sharing all of the unrealistic moments in the show: lunch breaks together; manicures in the middle of the day?! Come on, Abbott Elementary. No way.