How we choose guests for the podcast

Since starting in February, we’ve recorded nine episodes of the Teach Better Podcast with some terrific guests. Every one of our guests has been Yale-affiliated, and I wanted to take a few minutes to explain why. The key thing to understand that it’s not because we think Yale has a monopoloy on great teaching–We don’t. There are passionate teachers and mediocre teachers and even just plain bad teachers everywhere. So if great things are happening in classrooms all over the world, why aren’t we casting a wider net?

  1. Most of our ideas for potential guests come from my current and former students. They say things like: “Bo Hopkins teaches the best class I’ve taken at Yale. Or “Professor Bromwich has such a passion for Abraham Lincoln and it’s contagious.” Or “Professor Samuelson’s class was brutally difficult but the problem sets were works of art and I learned so much doing them.”

  2. It’s a lot easier to maintain good sound quality when everyone is in the same room.

  3. I believe conversations are more natural when everyone is in the same room. We’ve had feedback saying that listening to the podcast is like being a fly on the wall, and that’s exactly what we’re going for.

  4. Perhaps most important, we are trying to change the culture at Yale. We are trying to make talking about teaching a more common and even cool thing to do. Yale has a tradition of caring deeply about its undergraduates, but Yale is also a big research university with faculty that are fiercely protective about what they do in the classroom. The new Center for Teaching and Learning is trying to do the same thing we are with events like Faculty Bulldog Days that open up classrooms to faculty visitors.

At the same time, our primary goal with the podcast is to build or at least serve a global community of folks who care about teaching, and I do think we will eventually branch out and talk to faculty outside of Yale. It might be a while yet, but don’t worry–We have a long list of really interesting folks here that have lots to share with our listeners.