‘Top of Class’ continues success with relevant topics

January 15, 2020 / by / 0 Comment
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From left, Josh Danaher and Dr. Matt Nolen of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences join College of Education’s Emily Pottinger and Dr. Meredith Critchfield on their “Top of the Class” podcast.

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

A podcast by Emily Pottinger and Dr. Meredith Critchfield of the Grand Canyon University College of Education has continued to expand its reach.

“Top of the Class,” available on iTunes and other podcast apps, dropped its 24th episode last week, one that shows why the segments are hitting home – they’re relevant.

The educator combo launched the 2020 election year by interviewing GCU’s Joshua Danaher and Dr. Matt Nolen, who are among the leaders of a campus initiative on civil discourse, in an episode titled “Keeping Things Civil in a Sometimes Uncivil World.”

The communications faculty went beyond advice on good listening to offer tips that can help educators lead a thoughtful, yet peaceful, classroom discussion.

“We can learn these skills,” Danaher told Pottinger and Critchfield. “It’s like a muscle you have to train.”

Pottinger said the topic was timely.

“As educators, we want to be able to help our students have civil discourse,” she said. “But in order to do so, we need that toolkit, strategies and skills to be able to have civil discourse ourselves. We want to be able to support the next generations and future decision-makers in communication and talking about difficult topics.”

Pottinger, Faculty Chair and a COE Assistant Professor, and COE Professor Critchfield loved to listen to podcasts and in 2018 launched the idea of a podcast “by educators, for educators.” It has expanded to episodes twice a month.

Of 58 reviews on iTunes, all 58 have earned five-star ratings. Educause, a conference in Chicago in the fall on top ideas in higher education technology, featured Pottinger and Critchfield. More than 75 educators attended their session.

“We know the podcast is popular and helpful to our listeners. We believe it remains helpful because we not only base episodes off topics that are very applicable to educators of all kinds, but we also survey our listeners to glean information and topics that they would like to know more about,” Pottinger said.

She also attributes the success to the quality of the recordings, vital to successful podcasts:

“The Worship Arts Recording Studio, Eric Johnson, and all the wonderful student recording technicians have been integral in the development of ‘Top of the Class.’ “

Future episodes in the new year will include the following, with more to come:

  • “Nailing the Teacher Interview.”
  • “Check Yourself! A Quick Guide to Healthy, Professional Communication”
  • “Mental Health and Self-Care for Teachers”
  • “Putting First Things First: Early Childhood Development”
  • “#MathStrong”
  • “Drama Education”

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at mike.kilen@gcu.edu or at 602-639-6764.


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