Would the dogs eat it?

Ever since I have been using Twitter, I have seen that conferences have gone past the opportunity to learn new information, but to really extend and share with others. Most of the presenters that were at Educon were either connected with, or read their work. I am looking forward to the conversations that are going to happen next weekend.

While I think about my own opportunity for learning at Educon, I wondered about the way that we as educators learn and how we expect more from our experiences at conferences. Yes there are the occasional lectures and guest speakers at these conferences, but I have really appreciated the opportunities to connect and discuss with colleagues. As I read through the book, “I live in the future, and here’s how it works”, by Nick Bolton, one of his stories really stuck out with me:

“Imagine that you owned a restaurant and offered your employees free food, but they instead brought their own lunch and dinner from home. Would you look the other way if plates of freshly cooked pasta and garlic bread sat untouched on the table? Hopefully not. If it were my restaurant, I’d want to know why they weren’t enjoying my product, and I would do everything I could to try to change that. At Google they call this “dogfooding.” That is, if you make dog food and the dogs won’t eat it, you might have a bit of a problem. The people who built Gmail have to use it for their e-mail service, and if something doesn’t work, they have to fix it. ” Nick Bolton

As there are many great discussions about teacher professional development and what works best for educator, the question should always be, what works best for kids? We need to look at the environments that our students work in, and ask, would this be the best way for us to learn? If it isn’t, don’t we need to change?

Dean Shareski recently shared a discussion highlighting one of my favourite bloggers, Shelley Wright, and how she has adapted her classroom to meet the needs of her students. As you listen to Shelley, you can almost sense that she is wondering, “Why have I not done this sooner?”.

The question we need to start asking as educators about our classroom environments is, “Would this work for me?”. It is not about managing your class anymore, but more about leading it. As the world changes, our classrooms need to change with it. It is imperative that we look at our classrooms from our own learning perspective and think, “Would this work for me?”. We must also ask, “Does this work for everybody?”. Our students are different and must we give them the opportunities to succeed.

What is extremely exciting is that there is some great technology that will help us personalize our classrooms for students. They are more easily able to explore and delve into their passions. We need to start using these in the classroom.

“The world is shifting; ignoring it won’t make it go away.” Nick Bolton


  1. Great teachers adapt and seem to always be willing to change to meet the needs of their students and our world. And then you have those teachers who are great but have lost their passion and their end game is no longer they kids. Many don’t even have time to reflect and think about the end game because they are buried beneath meaningless initiatives and many have so many constraints on their time. Their creativity isn’t allow to shine and their passion is a struggling, dim ember. It’s just like the kids I experienced in my middle school ) classroom (taught 8th graders). Their imaginations were rusty and in some cases just plain broken. When asked to tap into it and use, many honestly didn’t know how. For most of them, their imaginations were left back in their elementary days. So during middle school, they were dealing with imaginations that had whithered because no one challenged them to use it. Not much creativity is needed to answers history questions out of a textbook or teach a lesson from a binder. What a sad state for these kids and so many educators! As a parent, I can only hope to keep the imaginations alive in my own children. These days I feel like part of my role is helping those teachers I work with to rediscover that passion and dig out their imaginations to do just what you are saying and ask those big, driving questions about what works, what doesn’t and where does growth/change need to occur. It sounds like Shelley Wright is doing just that, as are so many others. Once passions are ignited and creativity is free to flow, I believe the field is ready for planting and growth is inevitable.
    Thanks for the post!

    February 11, 2011

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