Friday, September 26, 2008

On GTA Chicago and "Dogfood"

So, I took the week to reflect about what I learned at the Google Teacher's Academy in Chicago. At the GTA in June, my major take away was the idea of space and environment and how much that influences one's thought. The Google experience is very much one of wonder and the joy from learning. It recognizes that your surroundings encourage innovation as much as those who you are with. I only hope to mimic that feeling in my own classroom, if not with brightly colored balls, at least I want my students to feel "innovative" when they come in.

This time it was the people. Not to say everyone I met in June wasn't fantastic, or to diminish the space of GTA Chicago in any way, (I was blown away by the local) but personally I think I was able to focus more on the other attendees. And what amazed and delighted me most was how, for many of us there, we'd been networked in ways we didn't even realize. I had a number of new GCTr's come up and tell me they heard me interviewed on a Seedlings podcast with Cheryl Oakes, Alice Barr and Bob Sprankle from a week prior to the GTA. I hadn't really thought about the reach of it all.

And of course the online conversations have continued as if they never stopped. What an amazing resource of people from all over. There was a phrase I picked up from one of the Googlers that I met there, it was to "Eat their own dogfood." I hadn't heard that before and she said it basically meant for them to use the products that Google makes. Now, in Google's case that didn't seem like a stretch for me, but it made me think about what I can offer in education.
Would I want to take the class that I teach? How much of my teachings are customized for me, rather then rest of the group? Would I 'eat my own dogfood' if I had the choice?

I like to think that I do all of these, but a little introspection is always a good thing, especially when it affects my students.