Finally, I had half written this post whilst I was in London for GTA but only mentally, not pen to paper (or fingers to keys). Since the start of December, life has been hectic (both at home and at school). I like it busy but sometimes…
Anyway, to Google, it would be remiss of me and not at all true to my name if I didn’t mention the food first.
There was a non-stop abundance of delicious treats on offer: home-made flapjacks, muffins, cookies and more; many varieties of food for lunch and dinner (where you could eat as much as you liked) and a continental breakfast if you were there in time. Plus as many drinks as you could stomach: an assortment of teas, strong coffee and a lots of sodas. It was amazing and free. Free.
Why am I mentioning this? Not just to reminisce of the delights and to bore you with a culinary preamble but because we chatted (a lot) about why Google do it, why they offer free food and drink, surely the cost is expensive?! I think (and others shared this view) that a well-fed staff is a happy staff. If you were working elsewhere, you’d take an hour for your lunch, a couple of breaks, where you may leave the building – this is fine, your entitlement but what if you stayed at HQ all day? Would you be more inclined to talk about your work over lunch as you sat with your colleagues? Would you just grab a coffee and a muffin and then head back to your desk at mid-morning? I think you would. I think it is a simple and effective way of encouraging engagement and effort. If you come earlier for breakfast and stay a bit later for evening meal, you could be at work for an extra 30-45 minutes a day, maybe more. That soon adds up! Also, it’s a great way of showing your staff you value them – we will feed you, and with good quality food too.
As for the tech, I learnt loads. I have no grand illusions that I’m an uber-geek tech master, sure I can defrag a computer and show you where the quick links are in Word; I can even set up Google Apps and group emails but I’m no wizard. No sir. I was, however, shocked at the sheer vastness of some of the other GCTs’ skills. From coding to Kodu, from Geomappr to Google-Apper, I was in the presence of some serious Geekdom. It was great, humbling but great. There are several resources I intend to use more (see list below) and lots I need to check out further so I can use them in the classroom. That was the whole point of this journey, to develop my skills and to learn new things that will benefit the children. I am on my journey, the beginning, like Bilbo at Bag-End.
The people: it was amazing to see so many tweeters and G+ers that I’d ‘met’ digitally but never in real life. Fabulous to create links and to begin to develop networks further, that is what developing a PLN is all about. It was great to see Rachel (@rlj1981) and Simon (@simon_warburton) again (after having met them at BETT in February). Some of the folk I met there were truly inspirational: Carrie-Ann Philbin, Mark Allen, Dave Salt and Wendy Gorton to name but a few.
I am so pleased that I decided to push myself and apply for GTA, this is only the start of building something fantastic and I am genuinely excited about the future…
Blockly – a variety of mini-apps that are great for encouraging building codes and programming.
Geoguessr – a great visual mapping game that drops you somewhere in the world, can you find where you are by using the clues around you?
Geek Gurl diaries – Carrie’s marvellous video diaries encouraging girls to blog and vlog.
IFTTT – a ‘recipe’ creator for setting up links/notifications through various social media.