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Traversing the Partnership: Hearing from “Voices from the Village”

                Podcasts are an impressive way to get information out to professionals, and Nikki Baldwin is working with her team to do just that in the state of Wyoming. Dr. Nikki Baldwin is a faculty member of the College of Education and the director of the Wyoming Early Childhood Outreach Network (WYECON).  WYECON is part of the Trustees Education Initiative and is supported by the Daniels Fund. The network is part of a larger partnership called the Wyoming Early Childhood Professional Learning Collaborative (WYECPLC), which is generating the podcast. The collaborative includes WYECON, Wyoming Department of Family Services, Wyoming Quality Counts, Project ECHO in Early Childhood Education, Wyoming Kids First, Align, and The Wyoming Statewide Training and Resource System.
                The collaborative has done a great deal of professional development training through the eight regional facilitators that serve Wyoming. The topic of a podcast to also help with professional development for early childhood educators had risen multiple times, and last year they were able to secure the Federal Preschool Development Grant to help support it. The podcast is called “Voices from the Village,” and comes from the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. These podcasts unite the wisdom of Wyoming early childhood educators with the professional research of leading national scholars in education.
                When asked how she found people for her podcast, Dr. Baldwin stated that the national scholars were reached out to since they were writers that she often used in her classes. In addition, the community of professional early childhood educators had been found through the work done by the collaborative and the professional communities throughout the state. One important piece she stressed was the importance of reaching out and recognizing that often time people will indeed say yes. Another key piece to this podcast experience has been the meaningful interviews from Wyoming educators. Baldwin states, “trust the wisdom in the state…some of the best interviews have come from WY early childhood educators…it is more powerful when interviewing colleagues.” This perspective highlights what the specific podcast is all about when bringing together differing voices to highlight the research and practical applications in this frontier state.
                Yet, the content in these podcast sessions often connects throughout the levels of the education system. The podcast sessions have included talks on trauma and social-emotional learning, classroom management, and anti-bias work. Future ideas for the podcasts include covering the new guidelines from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) as well as information on how to advocate for the early childhood profession. These podcasts focus on the meaning of lifelong learning and highlight the passion that is found in educators. One of the key benefits mentioned by Dr. Baldwin is that podcasts are easily accessible for educators because often they are doing various activities throughout the day. The podcast gives a sense of ease and choice so that the educator can feel ready to digest the topics that are being presented in a self-paced manner.
                A strong team is critical for the podcast, in the content and technical side. Baldwin noted how important her colleague Bryce Tugwell (College of Education and Biodiversity Institute) was in producing the podcast. This teamwork further reinforces the powerful message that is found in “Voices from the Village” where people are providing their personal skills and flair to the realm of early childhood teaching.
                For more information on the podcast or WYECPLC, check out this link: Link.
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