For more than a year, Lindsay Persohn wrestled with an issue in education that she felt needed a resolution.
“There’s a problem,” she says. “The work of brilliant education researchers often doesn’t make into classroom practice, sometimes at all.”
Barriers such as the lack of public access to research journals and the time it takes to sift through various publications are why Persohn, an assistant professor of Literacy Studies at the USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, launched “Classroom Caffeine,” a podcast series that bridges the gaps between research and practice and provides a space for education researchers to share their knowledge with those working in the field.
Launched in November, Classroom Caffeine’s first few episodes feature recognized experts in the field of literacy, many of whom are members of the Reading Hall of Fame, such as David Reinking of the University of Georgia, Norman Stahl, professor emeritus at Northern Illinois University, Jerry Johns of Northern Illinois University and Patricia Edwards of Michigan State University, the first African American president of the Literacy Research Association (LRA) and the recent winner of the LRA’s Oscar J. Causey award.
The podcast, Dr. Persohn said, allows for her and selected speakers to chat in a conversational tone and through a medium that’s readily available to anyone who has a smartphone device.
“My goal was to create an accessible platform for teachers to be able to hear about research and then potentially have some direction for doing their own further investigations,” Dr. Persohn said. “The nice thing about podcasts is that they don’t occupy 100 percent of your senses, so I could imagine teachers listening on their way to school or in their classrooms while they prepare for the day.”
Each week, listeners have a chance to hear guest experts reveal what they’ve learned throughout their own teaching experiences and what they’d like educators to know about their research. Since its debut, Dr. Persohn has published nine podcast episodes introducing several themes. A new episode is published each week.
While Dr. Edwards’ episode centered on the importance of family literacy, another episode with Jenifer Schneider, a Literacy Studies professor at USF’s College of Education, highlighted multimodal literacy and how children benefit from assignments that allow them to present their learning creatively.
During Dr. Persohn’s talk with James R. King, a professor emeritus at USF’s College of Education, the conversation centered on teacher planning, building student relationships and the art of teaching. Dr. King explained how necessary it is for educators to determine what triggers students to read and shared a timely message that he believes all teachers should hear.
“You must be an advocate for kids,” Dr. King said. “I know there’s current challenges in terms of how education is supposed to manage itself every day, but I maintain (this): if you keep the kids at the forefront, everything resolves itself.”
Dr. Persohn says guest experts in future episodes include Timothy Rasinski of Kent State University, Timothy Shanahan of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Peter Smagorinsky of the University of Georgia, and Peter Afflerbach of the University of Maryland.
Available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher, Dr. Persohn said she created Classroom Caffeine to energize the teaching practice with quality information, and that although the education field is in an unprecedented time, she wants teachers to know that they’re not alone.
“For a while, in the beginning of the pandemic, I think there was this mad scramble to figure out what (education) looks like now,” Dr. Persohn said. “But I think we can still rest in what we know about good teaching practice and adapt it to our current settings. Collectively, we know a lot about what matters most in education…We are all in this together.”
To listen to the latest episodes of Classroom Caffeine, visit the podcast's website.