“Welcome to the Staffroom with Chey and Pav!” Or perhaps, “with Wander and Cheney!” It all depends on which of these two energetic co-hosts your attention tends to gravitate towards during the opening sequence of their new podcast, to know exactly what they refer to themselves as. It doesn’t quite matter, however, because to the core, The Staffroom with Chey and Pav is a playful, fun, yet passionate and authentic look at education through the lens of two Middle School educators with a combined teaching experience record of over 30 years. The two educators embarked on this ultimate self-driven professional development podcasting journey starting this past September to refine, define, and validate their growth and pedagogy as educational instructors.
Pawan (Pav) Wander, is one of the two co-hosts of the show, and has now been a teacher in Toronto for 13 years. Her teaching experience ranges anywhere from the Kindergarten level, all the way to Eighth grade, in a variety of subject areas, including Media Literacy and Health & Physical Education. Currently, Pav teaches Grades 7 and 8 Mathematics and Science, where her passion and expertise are best situated.
Chey Cheney has been teaching in Toronto for 18 years. His consistency has cemented his understanding of the Middle School grades by working with Grades 6-8 students for the entirety of his career, thus allowing for reinforcement of his pedagogy. Chey now specializes in teaching English and Physical Education to grades 7 and 8 students, where his knowledge, drive, and passions are best maximized.
The origins of the The Staffroom are humble but rather serendipitous in nature. A podcast recording opportunity involving the students of Mr. Cheney’s grade 8 class arose because of the generosity of a former grade 8 classmate of Pav’s. “A friend of mine from Middle School, who has a successful and thriving podcast, asked how he could help give back to his home community, where Chey and I teach,” says Pav. “We thought the best way would be to provide a new learning experience to the students at the school.” Soon enough, Chey started getting his class ready to record “passion” segments for the podcast. The students were fortunate enough to be able to record their self-driven learning episodes, with topics ranging from mental health in teenagers to local politics. Students did this in a professional studio, complete with copywriters, graphic designers, and videographers, gaining real-life experience in these work environments, something that was surely a new experience for many, if not all, of them.
Chey and Pav, driven by their new-found passion for this idea of sharing their knowledge, embarked on creating a podcast that would go to every extreme to be its best. Inspired by coaching teacher Taki Moore, and his take on perfecting a craft, Chey and Pav committed themselves to running their podcast not as a hobby or afterthought, but rather as their heart and soul. The podcast had now become their passion project. From recording their episodes to social media, branding, custom theme music, and merchandising, this teacher team went all-in to create an experience to match that of any professionally developed podcast.
The initial response for the podcast has been resounding, and “The Staffroom” has begun growing and expanding to surpass its own goals immensely, garnishing listeners from overseas and throughout North America, way beyond their projected home base of Toronto. “This is something we never anticipated, and we are absolutely thrilled about,” says Chey, regarding the impressive growth they’ve experienced. “It’s obvious that teachers are eager to develop an active professional learning community and engage with one another with regards to pedagogy and best practice.”
The hosting team’s goal has always been to create a polished and dedicated podcast for educators from the very start. They have delved into conversations that focus on pedagogy and best practices, all while demonstrating joy and passion for education through their fun and playful banter. “This podcast is a breath of playful, fresh air,” says Pav, “in a professional field that can get bogged down by rules and regulations. We like to think that we bring an organic and exuberant take on education.”
Chey and Pav have found a new and encouraging home at SchoolRubric, who have taken an interest in their endeavours and acknowledged their passion. They have subsequently taken The Staffroom under their educational wing, and the support and recognition they have given Chey and Pav have been paramount in fostering a reputable and distinguished product. Chey and Pav look forward to connecting with the SchoolRubric community on an ongoing basis as regular contributors to their website.
As The Staffroom Podcast continues to evolve, so do its goals and excitement about growing it into something of greater substance and relevance. Chey and Pav are hopeful that their initial success and positive buzz will translate to an expanded listenership, and subsequently an increasingly inclusive podcast that will develop to include a wide range of guests to share their experiences with, and to talk pedagogy and teaching practice. “Having a studio to record in would be a tremendous evolution,” reveals Chey, “and even expanding our content to more formal pieces would be monumental and gratifying for the both of us.”
The two hosts have great passion for their podcast and some genuine excitement that it could possibly grow into a show recorded in-studio, and they have even toyed with the idea of publishing a book. In the meantime, Chey and Pav look forward to continuing to record their passion project podcast episodes, ranging from any and all topics in education, and seeing how they manifest organically moving forward. Building on school culture, effective classroom management strategies, and increasing mental health concerns are some of the themes they have considered discussing in future episodes. And so, just as when they sign off every episode, their hopes are that listeners, and now readers, will be left inspired by what they continue to produce.