Carrie Conover from educators 2 educators

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In this episode we’re talking with Carrie Conover, founder of educators 2 educators (e2e), an organization established to inspire, motivate and connect educators. She is also the creator and host of the e2e podcast with the mission to shine a spotlight on incredible teaching and learning and to provide relevant and digestible professional development for educators.

We talk with Carrie about why it’s not worth waiting to get started with something you’re passionate about, acknowledging how goals can shift as life does and what it takes to create a supportive community for educators.

What We Talked About

  • [01:56] Carries background and journey through education technology

  • [04:40] How Carrie got her start with the podcast

  • [06:58] The role heartache and grief played in her journey

  • [11:29] The importance of just getting started with your podcast

  • [16:48] Why she’s started her own consulting company

  • [20:09] Switching podcast hosts and the fallout

  • [25:08] How podcasting can be lonely

  • [28:19] The role her podcast plays in her community and consulting


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Interview Transcript

Jenn: You're listening to from the beginning. I'm Jenn Dudley and I'm Griffin Caprio and this is our show about podcasters, their origins, and how they came to create a podcast. Do you know those conversations where you talk to someone for the first time, but it feels like you've known them forever and they're a kindred spirit? This was one of those conversations. We talked with Carrie Conover education consultant and host of the educators to educators podcast. And right from the start it was so clear that Carrie really puts her heart and her authentic self into all of the work that she does, and it made me excited that there are people like her in education today. What was it that stood out for you Griffin?

Griffin: Yeah. I really enjoyed hearing the way that technology and education are being weaved together by both Carrie and the work that she's doing, as well as the guests on her podcast. As a parent of two children, it makes me excited for the future of education to know that there are people out there taking a look at how to improve and advance things using technology. So here's Carrie story from the beginning.

Jenn: So thanks for joining us today. Carrie. We're super excited to be talking to you.

Carrie: Thanks for having me. It feels strange to be on the other side of this.

Jenn: Have you been a guest on other podcasts so far?

Carrie: I have. I was recently a guest on a podcast and it also felt very strange.

Jenn: It's so, it's always funny to it. Yeah. To be on the, the, the flip side.

Carrie: It's healthy. At least I know what my guests are going through when they're especially getting started for the first time recording. So it's good for me. A good exercise.

Jenn: There you go. Well we appreciate it. So to, to jump in here, I'd love to learn a little bit or hear from you about how you got started with Conover Innovative Consulting group.

Carrie: Well, thank you. Yeah, I would love to tell you. So, I've been in education as you said, for 18 years. I spent 10 years in the Chicago public schools and then I got involved in educational technology and began working at a Chicago based ad tech startup. And then for a larger education company for about four years. And during that time, I was actually just recently reflecting on this. I mean, it was such an incredible experience for the work I'm doing now and that I was traveling the nation, seeing all types of school districts, teachers, leadership, and just really got a very nice, just overview of the landscape of what's going on in education. So had some, you know, things happen in my life. Some tragedy happened in my life and within my family, that really made me wake up and look in the mirror and say, Carrie it's time to go out on your own and take some risks. So I started Conover Innovative Consulting Group.

Jenn: That's awesome. I can definitely relate to a number of the things in there. So, what part of that or where does the podcast and the e two e, educators to educators, podcasts fit into that?

Carrie: So I am one of those people that dream, I dream up ideas in the middle of the night. So, it was funny. I knew that I wanted to start doing consulting with an education and Edtech for edtech companies. I knew that was going to be part of my core business. I always had this teacher heart inside of me. I think that's one of the things that I really love about being out on my own is that I can grow kind of two sides of my business. So one side of that is working with educators and wanting to really shine a spotlight on great teaching and learning. So I was listening to podcasts. I listen to various podcasts just about going out in your own, being an entrepreneur. And I kind of kept hearing this theme of a podcast. And at first it stuck with me because it was saying how podcasts can make you seem so credible in your field and it can really give you that credibility. I was just playing around with it, my mind. And then one morning I woke up at like 5:00 AM and I said, I'm going to make a podcast educators to educators and boom, I did it.

Jenn: That's awesome. Would you, from that kind of like initial inspiration and when your first episode was live and published, what was the kind of the timeline in there?

Carrie: Okay, so I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I'm going to tell you I'm actually, I'm not embarrassed. It's like a great part of my story. So that very day I sat down and I turned on garage band on my computer and I recorded, I recorded my first podcast from start to finish. And that's my first podcast. And it's really funny because I, you know, I didn't publish it at that point, but I remember I said, okay, well I'm going to sit on this for a day, this recording. And then I figured out how to export it into like an MP3 file. And then the next day I, you know, get uploaded on my phone and I went to the grocery store and they put headphones in and I remember walking, I will never forget this. I was walking into the grocery store and I said, I'm going to listen to this whole 30 minutes of this podcast and I'm going to try to pretend that I'm not myself.

Carrie: I'm going to try to pretend that I am a teacher or the old Carrie back in 2008 it was a teacher and I'm going to stay to myself. Would I listen to this? Would I take 30 minutes of my life and listen to this? And so I walked through the grocery store and listened to my podcast. And by the time I checked out of the grocery store, I was like, I think I could actually do this and be pretty good at it. So from, you know, I did more research and one of the big things I learned right away is if you put one podcast in, you know, out there and you know, the podcast store or wherever you host, and then people go to find you, they're like, oh, this person has one podcast. Like that doesn't seem very legit. So from that point, I decided to record I think my first four episodes. And then I went live.

Jenn: Well I think that's a really incredible story. I'm kind of that idea of just jumping in. It reminded me a little bit. I was listening to one of your episodes with Nikki Neagle who, I actually worked with her. A Chicago can be such a small place. I worked with her husband, you know, a number of companies ago. She's phenomenal. And talking about, you know, someone that you had had met right after, the workshop you had been in and the idea of, you know, why are you waiting until Sunday to jump back into working out and go ahead and do that today. And so I think it's phenomenal that you just sat down and recorded it.

Carrie: Yeah, it is goes, I've never connected those two things, but you're absolutely right. It's like, why are we waiting? Especially, you know, I've lost both of my oldest brothers in a short period of time. And I always say when people ask me like, how have you gotten through that, you know, heartache, it's you, your life completely shifts when you experienced that type of grief twice so closely together. And I will say it's so cliche, but life is really short and like, what are we waiting for to take risks? Like who cares if you fail? So that, for me recording that episode and putting it out for the world to hear is like right in line with these big lessons I've learned.

Jenn: I just think that's what an awesome tribute to your, to your brothers as well. I think that's wonderful.

Carrie: Either they're excited for me or they're totally picking on me, like older brothers. Maybe both. Probably.

Griffin: What do you think, you know, you've got the podcast, you've got the new company, what do you think your goals are for the podcast?

Carrie: Is it okay for me to say those goals shift a lot? They do.

Griffin: Absolutely.

Carrie: I mean, at the core of educators to educators, it's, it's really not about me. I think of it as I have a gift of, um. Just being able to talk to people, like people who've known me for a long time know I'm the person in the bar that talks to everyone and like I don't meet a stranger, right? Like I can talk to anyone. I get free stuff like wherever I go, which is kind of a running joke. But this isn't about me. The only part that is about me is the fact that I know and have met so many incredible people within education, outside of education. I have the guts to go up to strangers and see what they have to say about education. so my goal for educators to educators is to really shine a spotlight on really smart people. Whether that's teachers, we really incredible things in their classroom. Whether that's Gwen Crayon, who's an incredible Chicago public school principal, doing amazing things, talking about trust in schools or a psychologist who studied resilience in children.

Carrie: This is about, gosh, teaching is a hard, hard job and everyday teachers walk in their classrooms and they face in these four isolated walls, you know, up to 32, 34 kids. And in that classroom or all these things that are going on in America that are good or bad are represented in their classroom. And so I want educators to educators to one be a really positive place, but also to be a place teachers can go when they're struggling with something or they want new ideas. So I want to draw people in, not just teachers, but people from outside fields that want to learn more about teaching and learning.

Griffin: Yeah. That's such a, such an amazing, goal and direction. And even if I, I think if it shifts around a little bit, I think the fact that you're, you know, kind of focus on that as is mind blowing. Yeah. I know Jenn and I are starting to, you know, tried to do was a little bit of that on a small scale with regards to this podcast. But I think you know, the people that you're talking to and the focus that you have is, is really amazing.

Carrie: Thank you.

Griffin: How so, how has the podcast gone so far? Like, is there anything that you've learned or some things that you know now that you wish you'd known when you started?

Carrie: Oh man, so many. So I'm like embarrassed to go back and listen to that first podcast and it's really tempting to take it off the, you know, take it out of the world for anyone to listen to you. But I will say this, had I waited until I had a microphone and the perfect recording and read every blog, you know, if I had researched and researched until I was perfect at it, I never would have started that podcast. And I think the fact that you just have to get in and start it. So that is something I'm very proud of is that I just dove right in and I've learned along the way. And someone once said to me like, Carrie they're not. No one's coming to you to hear perfect editing and you know, music, they're coming to you because they want to hear your guest and what you're asking them.

Carrie: So that's one big thing I've learned is like, I'm never going to be perfect at the tech side of it. I'm going to get better and better. I think that, I think there were, there have been times where I thought, well, first of all, I was surprised anyone was listening to it, but you know, there were times I kinda hit some walls and like the best thing I did was I walked away from it for a little while. I wasn't quitting it, but I said, I'm going to let these six episodes just sit in the world and see what happens. And I stopped checking my data. I stopped obsessing over the downloads. I focused on other things that were creative for me that were making me feel fulfilled. And then a few weeks later I came back and actually looked at the data and I was like, Whoa, what happened while I was away? So I think for me, I, that was just like, to the point of there's a bigger picture here and this is not going to happen over night. I have to be patient. And I have to be kind to myself that, I believe that I'm creating good content and eventually people are going to hear about it and start listening to it. So I'd say those are two of my biggest kind of takeaways so far for the podcast.

Jenn: Well, I have to say, I feel like you are, you know, us being new to this podcast, you're, I almost feel like I'm a guest on your show and taking as much from this and so I'm sure our eventual listeners will as well. So, thank you for that. And I think those are great pieces of advice from getting started really with kind of anything. Do you think it's that, you had talked about really the mission behind this and being driven by wanting to create that community of educators and celebrate them. Is it knowing, is it having come back after a little bit of break of a break and seeing that people were listening? Is that what's kept you motivated to continue?

Carrie: Yes, definitely. It's fun to see those numbers go up. I mean I learned a ton to myself. So yes, that keeps coming, keeps me coming back. But also the high of asking someone to be a, a guest on your podcast and they say yes, and then you get to have this really incredible conversation. I have a lot of guests come into it, nervous, and then when they're done, many people have said, I forgot I was recording with you and I thought it was just hanging out with you having this incredible intellectual conversation. Right. So part of it is the numbers, but part of it is like I get to just create something with someone else and collaborate and I get a joy out of that as well. So I'm not saying I would do it if no one was listening, but I think they kind of run in parallel, if that makes sense.

Jenn: Yeah, no, I definitely, I think it definitely does. and I think that's the ideal scenario, right? So you end up in and just having great conversations and learning from people. How do you go about like finding the guests that you bring on your show?

Carrie: Oh, that's a funny question. I should have some beautiful editorial calendar that I've written out and you know, have all these topics I'm following, but I just kind of let fate take care of itself. And it's come from everything from being at a panel and thinking someone like Nikki Nagel, you mentioned she was speaking at a panel for women in Chicago and she and I was like, oh, let's do an interesting like podcasts about girls in the classroom. And she had, she doesn't really, you should not in the education arena. So I do things like that where I say, oh, this person's really knowledgeable on this one topic. How can we bring it back to education? I've gone back to people I've known in that education space, fellow teachers and so really I just, I'm looking for that person that's ready to have that spotlight kind of, shown on them, the right verb tense. But that's what I really just kind of go with this gut instinct. There's no science to it.

Jenn: Well, I mean I think, I think it's a, I dunno maybe because, I feel a bit of a kindred spirit with you in that regard, but I think it's a phenomenal technique and, I think the combinations of, you know, you talked about bringing in people that aren't necessarily from the education industry, so finding those connections, and, and making those connections for other people and having that conversation I think probably, is really beneficial because you are somebody who can see those. And so whenever you happen to catch one of those connections, I think it's the perfect time.

Carrie: Can I also tell you, and I have a feeling that both Griffin and you are like this a little bit, probably part of this is about me being a little bit of a rebel.

Jenn: Tell me more. Tell me more. I'm intrigued because for sure

Carrie: I'm an achiever and I'm an achiever, but like, and I did well in teaching and I did okay in school. I wasn't like at the best student. And I know why. Looking back, I wasn't a traditional student, but like when you work in a larger company, when your startups getting bigger or you know you're getting 50 people in the startup or when you are at a big corporation, which I was for awhile, which I loved both of them, sometimes things move so slow. And for me that is just like a passion killer. Like I'm like let's move it along.

Carrie: Come on. Like when I would sit in meetings that were two hours long and we were discussing things to me, I'm like, okay, the answer is really clear. Can we just like leave this meeting and get started and move ahead? And so for me this is like, I go and I record when it feels right and I have the right guest and it's an interesting topic and I don't have anyone telling me what to do or to slow down to go faster. So that's the rebel in me that's like doesn't want this calendar and all these topics and every damn thing planned out until 2019

Jenn: I think I'm, yes, I'm totally with you. And I think that, I think there's certainly an element of that with anybody who's, who started their own thing and then it's done it kind of the entrepreneur path. I hear so many entrepreneurs say something I've said before and kind of the don't make a great employee and one, one, in one way or another. So, I think you, you started out almost apologetically and saying like, you should have this beautiful answer about this, you know, publishing calendar. I have similar conversations with myself all the time, but I find when I just, you know, throw all that out the window and kind of just go with my gut, things tend to work out pretty okay.

Carrie: Yeah, I'd agree.

Griffin: Yeah. Sometimes just showing up and giving it your best has some pretty good outcomes.

Carrie: Yes.

Griffin: So you mentioned a little earlier about kind of like looking back around, you know, the interview style and some of the tech difficulties that you had. What are the things that to contributing or creating and distributing a podcast now that you wish were better or easier?

Carrie: So, is it okay? Well is it okay if I use certain names of like products?

Griffin: Yeah, definitely.

Carrie: Okay. So I started my podcast out hosting my podcast on Squarespace where I host my website. And, I was like, what is an RSS feed? Like what is this? And I will tell you, my brother Kelly that recently passed away was like a genius software engineer, like genius, genius. Very good. And so those are the times that are very emotional with, for me because he was the guy who would call and be like, help me figure this tech stuff out. I'm pretty tech savvy, but like he would, he would do it in five minutes where I would take me two hours, right? So like I'm like, what's this RSS feed? How do I embed this code? So there were a lot of things like getting it from Squarespace to apple podcasts that were confusing for me and were really hard.

Carrie: And then once I got that up and running and I was, you know, even to like creating your image for your podcast has to be this like her, you have, it has to be this perfect image that goes along with like all of podcasts or Apple's requirements. Right? That took me half a day and that was frustrating because there were a lot of other things I wanted to be doing. So little things like that. And then as I got down the road, I'm looking at the data that I'm getting and it was very confusing, and confusing and that I was like, are people actually listening to this? Where pings coming from? And so it was really hard to understand like if people are actually downloading and listening or if it was just some random Apple thing was pinging it, no one was actually listening. So it wasn't clear on who my listeners were and how often it was happening. So I started this podcast in late August of last year. And then around January, February I decided, all right, I need to switch over. I need better data. So I had to switch over and I started using Podbean and man, that was amazing. I had a lot of data coming through it, a much more clear, but I have lost all my downloads and data from those first few months. So that was a little bit of a mourning process for me to be honest. That I was kind of starting over. I think for me, I like sometimes my mic will not show up on my computer and it's like simple things like that. Like this has been, why is this not recognizing it? And then I spent all this time googling, why isn't this mic working? Why isn't that working? So there's little things like that where you're in this really creative mode and then, there's these tech hangups that are kind of a buzz kill honestly. So I'd say the tech stuff sometimes. And then also like just the data that I was getting, especially at the beginning, it was frustrating.

Griffin: Yeah, that's definitely interesting. You mentioned kind of the, the impact of moving hosting providers and losing all your, all your legacy or old original listener data. Then you talked a little bit earlier about kind of like checking your download numbers and, and obsessing a little bit over the analytics piece. And I was just wondering, kind of like the podcasts and the impact that it's having on your business. Is that something that you try and track or is it not really a concern that, that you're focused on? You just want to kind of tell great stories and, and, and meet some great people?

Carrie: Yeah, it's definitely a mix of both. I mean, I think that for me, ultimately what I like to be able to bring it and monetize this podcast, yes. Not because I think I'm going to be some millionaire and go live in The Bahamas. It's because if I can bring in revenue through that, I can keep making the podcast better and reinvesting in the podcast. In other things I'm doing, building online courses and creating teacher communities. So I do watch those download numbers and there were certain benchmarks that I felt were really important. So 1000 downloads was a big benchmark for me. I'm approaching 3000 downloads. That's a big benchmark for me. Right. I look at a lot of the data of who's going back to listen to older episodes because I feel like that tells me a lot. So that's what I'm looking at for me for personal success and that motivation to keep going. It's an interesting balance I guess in my mindset. I thought for this first year I'm, I'm, and just going to create and see what happens and not worry about it, but leave me, I'm looking at that every other day or so.

Griffin: Yeah. Gotcha.

Jenn: I was just going to say it's hard when somebody gives you numbers not to look at them and, you know, attach some kind of a, you know, sense of success to that. At least for me. Maybe that's just me.

Carrie: Well, when we were, we were talking a little earlier and podcasting is a little bit lonely, in the fact that like I'm putting content out there, I'm seeing that people are listening to it. There's like been, maybe 12 reviews, I'm getting good, you know, five star reviews on apple. But other than that, it's kind of crickets. You don't hear much from people. I had a teacher reach out to me on Instagram the other day and said, hey, I just listened to your second podcast. Like I'm going to binge listen to this. This should be in every teacher's tool box. I love it. And I was like, thank you so much for writing this to me. Like it was so silly but emotional. I'm like, people rarely take the time to reach out to get telling me that. And I know people are liking it because they're coming back for more, but there's no feedback loop there.

Jenn: No, I think that's the thing. There's nothing really built in and that helps sort of facilitate that two way communication. So I think I can feel a bit like you're just sort of shouting into the universe. I noticed that you were, and I'm not sure how long you've been doing this, but I'm kind of like putting in plugs for your, I think summer reboot. So the in person community, I believe that you've created. Is that something where, have you seen anybody, any registrations, for that, that have have come from someone having heard about it on the podcast? Or is it still too soon?

Carrie: I think it's a little too soon. And I would say it's actually gone the opposite. So I did built a little bit, this teacher reboot is an online course and teachers pay for it. I actually, I mean I've actually seen more people I think are going to my podcast because of the teachers. I'm a reboot. It's almost working in like the opposite way that I thought it would. For me right now, I like to be honest, I just want people to know what educators to educators is and what we're doing right. That it's not just a podcast. So for me, I don't really care if someone's listening to the podcast and then goes and buys teacher summer reboot right now because for me, I want them to just know that we do more than just podcasting. Some of the stuff I offers free, outside of podcasting.

Jenn: So what are the other things that you're doing are offering through e2e?

Carrie: Yeah, so, teachering summer reboot is a really cool online course that just helps teachers refresh teaching over the summer, collaborated with a couple other teachers to do that. So that's a paid course, but then I have a free course right now that's called build your teacher resume. And it's for teachers that are thinking about making the leap into Ed Tech and some of the little things they can do to build a resume up. To also think about what they're already doing if they were to get a job interview that they can say, hey, I, you know, for instance, you know, when you're interviewing for a job in Ed Tech Company, collaboration always comes up, right? Or in any job interview. So I talk about, well, what would you do in your classroom that's collaboration. Don't forget about these things that you could bring. So that's something that's free right now I'm doing a teacher's self care mini challenge where the, you know, just talking about taking care of yourself as a teacher, it's exhausting. Here are some things they get an email every morning with, just kind of a reminder of something around the self care arena and here's a call to action each day. So that's just an example of a couple of things that we're doing outside of the podcast.

Jenn: So Carrie, are you finding like through those, obviously I'm assuming that online course, there's kind of that interaction piece through some of those others. Are you building more of the community of educators through those channels and it's just not necessarily connected, to the, like there's not a, a community that specifically connected to the podcast, but you're building that community of educators through those other channels?

Carrie: yes. I mean, my biggest community is on Instagram for sure. So like Instagram is kind of like my funnel for everything. What's interesting is I think not, I think my podcast has been tapped into by parents, it's been tapped into by some teachers. I think a lot like people in the Ed Tech Space, have tapped into it. So I've had some interesting feedback from people that say I'm an engineer, I work for Khan Academy. I don't really know that much about education. I've been listening to your podcast because it helps me kind of understand what's going on in education or the teachers. I'm building a product for a teacher. I don't really, I never was a teacher, so I'm rambling on a little bit here. But it's interesting because I feel like teachers or a segment of my listeners from what I can tell on my podcast, and I think because I'm getting a following on Instagram and through my educators to educators kind of website and courses, they're now coming to my podcast.

Jenn: That's awesome. It's interesting to see those kind of like passing back and forth channels.

Griffin: Yeah, that's amazing. I think one of the questions that we're always curious about is podcasting is such kind of a, an early stage technology. And market and community and there's a lot of constraints, but there's also a lot of freedom. And so one of the things we'd like to ask people is that, you know, given no constraints and what you could do, what, what are some of the things that you wish you could do with your podcasts that you can't do today?

Carrie: I'm so sorry. I mean, there's just so many things I'm thinking through right now. I think for me, reach is a big thing. Back to reach, why don't people don't listen to podcasts, which just blows my mind. I mean, any chance I get to listen to a podcast like doing laundry in the car, I have a podcast on. Right. I wish that for me, my podcast could be something that teachers could use towards their professional development credits that they need to get. I wished that it was easier to like spread the word about it, and get into the hands of teachers and educators. I wish that it was easier to edit a podcast. Because I, and I don't know if that's really the, the road you wanted me to go down, but I'm kind of thinking of like this wishlist. But for me it's like first answer is reach like getting this because once people get it, they love it. How do I get it to more teachers? Right? that marketing PR aspect of it. For me, I wish my ultimate dream is that like education companies and companies continue to connect with me to provide opportunities for teachers. Like I want Walmart or whoever to say he educators, educators, we want to give five teachers a cruise. I mean, I'm hearing a little silly here, but like making connections to show teachers that love and support that they deserve. So that would be kind of my wishlist.

Jenn: I think that sounds like a phenomenal wishlist. And I can say that, while it can definitely feel lonely, you have voiced a very similar things that Griffin and I have felt. And, certainly that we've heard from a lot of other podcasters and we would love to do whatever we can to get more of the ears, onto educators 2 educators. So what's the best way for people to learn more about what you're doing or to get in touch?

Carrie: Yeah. You know, I mentioned Instagram, there's a huge teacher community there, but if you follow me on Instagram at educators two educators, that's a great place. I'm constantly posting updates and things going on there. You can visit my website, and that'll kind of point you in the direction. So as I said, I mean I do consulting for education company, so if you go to that website, you kind of get pointed. If you're a teacher or a school, you get pointed in one. If you're a company you get pointed to another. so those are the two really best places to find me.

Jenn: Fantastic. Well thanks again, carry so much for joining us. We'll be sure to put all of the links in the show notes for this and are looking forward to staying in touch and seeing how your community grows from here.

Carrie: Well, thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.

Jenn: Thank you for listening to another episode of, from the beginning, editing a music was provided by Roy Matz.

Elena Scheiner