Derek Rhodenizer and I first met as new ONedchat members who are part of a collaborative team planning and moderating this wonderful biweekly chat for Ontario teachers and the world. We discuss matters of interest and navigate the educational landscape through dialogue. Then, Derek began podcasting about innovation in education. I was happy to be on the podcast and become one of his first recurring guests. He also, graciously, recorded my first ever BOBcast to help me articulate and share my Building Outside the Blocks approach. Derek was also the one who invited me to join the #ONedmentors team, and I love the weekly show where the panel of educators gathers to discuss the song-driven theme and the issues that relate to education in view of mentoring pre-service and new teachers. Although he is no longer part of the ONedchat team, he is quite busy being the Director of Academics at Westborough Academy in Ottawa, a co-visionary of #MADPD, the host of #ONedMentors, husband and father. Derek also has a great podcast called Beyond the Staffroom, which I listen to as often as possible.
I was so happy to have Derek on the other side of the microphone for the first time. He described him self as a scattered learner who “recalls information through images and sounds” and perceives himself as “all over the map”. As the opening to the conversation, Derek positively reinforced the structure of the P3: a nostalgic song, a song that reflects your identity and one that lights you up or picks you up. He found it to be a challenging but fun exercise. Choosing his three songs was a quest through “emotional memories that may or may not have descriptive words attached to them.”
Derek shared his process for selecting his songs, but he added more after the podcast. He had a serendipitous experience when his then girlfriend of only a short time took the leap to meet him in New Zealand. Derek was in the faculty of education half way around the world, and his now wife took a month off work to visit him. They were touring around to amazing destinations and Fiji was their next destination, so Derek booked a place near the airport in Auckland. Although it turned out to be less than hospitable, when walking around through the cow fields near by they followed a gravel road guided by this light and the ever growing sound of music. Beside food trucks was an intimate Maori gathering where Katchafire was playing in this remote field.
Derek had forgotten that part of the story during our recording of this Personal Playlist Podcast, so I was glad that he filled me in later. As he introduced the nostalgic song from this band that he described as the Tragically Hip for New Zealanders, Derek recalled that formative time in his life. He was in teacher’s college, learned to surf, and was introduced to Katchafire as part of what became a transformational experience. It’s now on his regular and cooking playlists. Here is Seriously by Katchafire.
I did not prepare Derek for the format of playing the song only to the chorus. When Derek was listing to the playback of his nostalgic song, he was there. I abruptly shook him out of his flashback as I ended the song, but was able to bring him back in time to introduce the next one.
Derek's identity song also took him to a new place. It was not as geographical a journey as his first song because it was about his place of zen and release; the place where he practices the martial art of jiu-jitsu. He purposely chose this identity song as “not a teacher thing” , and it is good that he balances out his busy life. It is a way for him to decompress and deeply commit to a “physical language” that he loves and needs on a regular basis. For Derek, reggae is the music of jiu-jitsu where he gets both grounding and release. This song conjures the feeling of going to face with his sparring partner. Here is Roots Rock Reggae by the legendary Bob Marley:
The third song in the playlist is about inspiration. I call it a pick-me-up song but it is interchangeable with a song that lights you up or one that motivates you. Music speaks to people in many different ways, so I am glad that people interpret each song choice in a personalized manner. When I saw who Derek’s pick-me-up song was by, I was not surprised because I know that he loves Pearl Jam. His song choice, however, had me thinking back to the grunge era with plaid shirts and the reluctant stardom of the band whose singles were topping the charts while they grappled with their commercial successes. He introduced this version of the song as a unique experience. It was the last song in the set during their MTV Unplugged show. It was often during this song, at shows like Lolapalooza in 1992, when the lead singer, Eddie Vedder, could be seen climbing the set, jumping into the crowd, or hanging from the rafters. This version of Porch is raw and “invigorating”. All it takes for Derek is that count down that send tingles down his spine at 1,2,3:
As we rounded out the conversation, I was thinking about how powerful this experience is for so many. When I did this as a Building Outside the Blocks project in my Grade 7 Language Arts classes, I saw high levels of energy and engagement from the students. Now, through this podcast, educators are excited to shared their playlists. Derek was so enthusiastic about the conversation that he messaged me about it several times and, on the day of our P3 recording he wrote "1 hour!!!!" in anticipation. Building people up is one of the most exciting parts of the Personal Playlist Podcast, along with hearing their thoughtful stories and getting windows into who they are. Although I clearly woohoo a lot (it's who I am), I truly am thrilled about this powerful snapshot of people. Derek reminded me that I am modelling BOBs through this podcast. It’s a simple structure, like some of my other projects, that allows everyone an entry point and creates a platform for sharing that builds skill and community. Music really is a universal language and it’s something worth exploring for learners of all ages.
You can hear Derek's P3 on VoicEd Radio.