Saturday, September 27, 2008

Google Teacher Academy - Chicago

This week I had the honor of attending the Google Teacher Academy in Chicago. This was really cool. I got to see all sorts of ways to use Google tools in teaching, some new and some I've seen before. But, I'm not going to talk about that today. What I want to talk about (before the KoolAid wears off) is how I felt in the Google Offices. I know you've probably seen descriptions of the Googleplex and heard about the free food, game rooms, masseuse on staff, and the loose non-existent dress code. These are cool perks, but totally beside the point. What they do is point to the positive corporate culture that Google seeks to imbue in it's offices.

The bottom line seems to be if your employees are comfortable and happy then they will be more productive. They will look forward to coming to work rather than dreading it, and while they're there they get more done. I've been struggling to work towards this in my classroom for the last couple of years, but I've never had a good model to base it on. Now I'm beginning to have an inkling of what it might look like. Next step, start implementing it.


Unknown said...

I like your blog. Google anything sounds like a great time. Hope you write about it. I'm a pre-service physics teacher in the SF bay area. I wonder how transferable google's environment is to the high school classroom, e.g., the lack of 'rules' of dress. I tend to be easy-going in disposition but it seems there would be problems with such a laissez-faire approach to the classroom. Eager to here how it goes. Keep writing

Steve said...

I know I'm probably dreaming, but I like dreaming.

I guess I should also say there isn't a total lack of rules at Google. There is still a hierarchy and people still have to get their jobs done. The same would be trun in the classroom.

My style of teaching lends itself to a very laid back atmosphere, but my room has never quite matched that. In addition, I teach at a Catholic high school. So someone else sets the dress code and I'll always have to enforce it. What I liked about the Google approach is the idea that you don't have to wear a tie to be good at what you do.

Anonymous said...

It was great to meet you Steve at GTA Chicago. I, too, left with a feeling about the culture set by Google. There just seemed to be a push for innovation and collaboration around every corner, in every nook and cranny of the building.

I'd love to see that kind of encouragement for risk-taking in the classroom and amongst educators.

For me, I ran into something really interesting the next morning. I walked into my office, looked around, and realized that a picture of this office could have any name attached to the door. In other words, it is simply an office in all its sterility.

Sad, eh? How many things do we do or leave alone simply because they match with what people expect?

Teach42 said...

I totally got the same impression. I kept looking around and thinking about how stimulating an environment it was, without seeming to be chaotic or unproductive.

I do wonder whether they have any troubles with people who lose focus there. As an ADD type personality, that's a lot of distractions to cope with. Always something fun to provide a diversion going on.

Regardless, it was great seeing you again. You planning on doing the "Open Sessions" room again at MACUL this year? If so, I'm definitely going to spend some more time there. I believe I'm doing four presentations, so I should have time! Gotta figure out some strategies for making sure people KNOW that it's going on tho!

Take care and see you there if not sooner (DEN Virtual Conference if you're interested).

Unknown said...

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