Google,  Professional Development,  Teacher Reflection,  Technology in PE

Google Innovator – Experiencing and Remembering Selves

When I was younger, I had to hide the sweets and lollies that I love in my bedroom away from my brother and my mother.  I spent my pocket money on different delicious candies and I knew my brother wanted them and my mother didn’t want me over-indulging in sweets.  As I am now an adult and mother, I am trying to limit the sugar in my household.  I am fully aware that it is not good for me or my children and I can see history repeating as I find candy wrappers in my daughter’s room.

Daniel Kahneman in his book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, discussed the idea of Experiencing Self and Remembering self.  In a study that he conducted with Donald Redelmeier, they studied patients undergoing colonoscopy and kidney stone procedures while awake.  Researchers gave patients a device to monitor a quantifiable measure of the moment-by-moment pain on a scale of 1 (none) – 10 (unbearable) each minute of their procedure.  Patients recorded operation times between 4 minutes and an hour.  25-30 % of patients in both of these operations had recorded pain ratings of 10 at least once during there procedures.   Patients were then asked to rate the total amount of pain they experienced during the procedure.

Our natural assumption is that you would take a sum approach to the final number – but the studies didn’t show this at all.  The final ratings largely ignored the duration of pain and Kahneman predicted the final rating came from what he termed the “Peak-End rule” which is an average of the pain experienced in two moments during the operation – the single worst moment and the very end of the procedure.  This would seem to suggest that we have two different selves – the experiencing self who gives endures each moment equally and a remembering self who gives the most weight to the worst moment and the last moment.  Imagine you are at a party and you are having a wonderful time outside in the yard with your friends, and then a storm begins and forces you to abandon your party and take cover inside.  Your experiencing self will report that you had a long period of happiness at the party and then a moment of displeasure at the end.  Your remembering self will likely see no pleasure at all, as the storm wipes away the happiness of the evening.

My experiencing self loves the sweets and the amazing brain chemistry hit that feels so satisfying, but my remembering self reminds me that I feel terrible immediately afterward, the momentary satisfaction gives way to gut pain and overdose-sugar systems that I know all-too-well.  Yet, I persist.  I am sure you can conjure up your own examples of this Peak-End rule.  Maybe you experience it as you teach – a fabulous lesson or day ruined by the meeting or comment or email at the end that dampened your day?  Maybe you coached a game that was going well until you had a climactic ending and a loss for your team?  Maybe you went to a conference but the overwhelmingness as you went home dampened the experience?

I was fortunate enough to travel to Stockholm this past October for five days to take part in a Google Innovator training course.  The process to get here has been long but I enjoyed and learned a lot through each step of the process. This is a big undertaking application but spurred on by previous PE folks in my region and PLN (Carlos, Marcus, Adam, Jarrod and Jo Bailey) I sat and thought about what I wanted to achieve. The Innovator course begins on the Google Training site completing Level 1 and Level 2 Google Teacher Certification.  These are longish modules of work that revolve around being able to use Google apps in Educational settings and then complete a 2-3 hour exam for each being tested using Google apps and this taught me a lot about how Google is changing the model of ‘app learning’ to Educational practices that could be made into different experiences – the SAMR model is a good place to think about this.  The certification is only valid for 2 years as Google updates and changes its apps and programs so you need to re-do the exams to prove that you are certified and up-to-date in this work.

SAMR – Substitute, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition (watch this: allows the user to decide how best to use Technology in your setting.  The idea being that it would be advantageous to move away from just Substituting in your spaces, and further up the ladder to Tech goodness.  I would argue that most of the PE people I know and work with are way ahead of this scale and work hard to add technology in a meaningful way to transform the student experience in their classes.

After completing these modules, the next step for application is to then complete a series of Google tasks – Video pitch, Slide deck and application form (who would you choose to have a cup of team with and a chat for 30 minutes…?) and then submit all of this work to the Educator team.  Side note: I asked the photographer from our school Communications office to come into my PE class for two different lessons and take some photos.  I highly recommend this to you as a PE person.  I have used these photos in applications, in Year Book photos, in publications about PE, in a keynote speech I gave, in my blog!  They have been used by the school for publicity and they are great.  So much better than the selfies or me trying to photograph things in the middle of teaching a class.

In his amazing book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What matters most in the End”, Atul Gawande discusses how very unprepared we are in preparing for our death.  I found reading his book very confronting and along with having listened to some Modern Love podcasts and Freakonomics podcasts on Bad Medicine (I am not sure where all this has come from, coincidence possibly?) but my thoughts have run to how I use my time and what is valuable to me.   These are natural thoughts to have as I get older (says Gawande) and reassess the importance of my mortal time.  With these ideas flowing and forefront to my reading and text/podcast choices,

I wish I had written down my hopes and dreams at the beginning of this course.  I am going to make a mental note to do so at the next PD I attend.  What do I hope to experience?  What am I anxious about?  What questions do I have?  This might help me to focus further and to see what I hope to invest in.   

Stockholm is a beautiful city.  I thoroughly enjoyed my 5 days in the city.  I walked, ran and cycled all around as much as I had time for and would like to return with my family.  The Google building is situated very near to Central Station.  It has no branding and tight security – this is a think tank and holds many incredible secrets – all very exciting.  There is a feeling of mystery and intensity in the Google office.  As minions in this space, we were not allowed to take photos of many spaces and could not enter spaces of actual Google employees.  We met some very intelligent and impressive Google people who wowed us with their ideas and vision and also their timelines and the way in which they are forging ahead.  I was impressed, initially, I thought that our school systems could benefit from this forward thinking and quickness (but solid and invested and well-thought-out) approach to strategic planning.  I often feel it can take a whole year to get a very small distance at school levels!

The Innovator training was impressive in that we used a lot of Google products (as we had all had to pass the Level 2 exam, it was assumed we could all use Google, so no waiting or sharing ‘How’ to do things, we just did it).  There was an endless supply of people there to assist.  Food and drinks to eat at our leisure and amazing food served at a gourmet end cafeteria in the building.  Google mandates that there must be food and drinks on hand in every office and they take care of their people by offering free meals and drinks all day every day.  The canteen is a set up of different types of tables to allow people to meet or not, to sit comfortably or bar stool it and eat and drink and talk about work (or not).  A clever way to encourage collaboration and communication across divisions and to keep people in the office all hours of the day.  If I worked at Stockholm Google, I wouldn’t miss a meal.

The training had different parts – with innovator keynote style sharing from Engineers, Project Managers, the Head of Stockholm Google, the Education branch of Google and there was focus on: Our own projects but not so much about the What but about the HOW and WHY and the importance of connecting us together (I couldn’t help but think of the book The Circle -Dave Eggers) as we were connected in so many ways and with so many other Google people online.  (this has been the hardest thing – to keep up with the number and volume of emails, messages, chat groups etc).  Most of the work we did on project stuff was run by Leslie McBeth, a former Google Innovator herself who has gone onto do amazing things – check her out here She is a powerhouse at moving people along.  No time for procrastination and with lots of ideas and tips to keep you moving through design cycle thinking.  I loved the time we had with Les.  She forced you to keep going and to look at your work critically but also creatively without investing too much time.  I am sure you have all had projects that were months old and you should have stopped a long time ago.  Daniel Kahneman talks about this in his book too, loss-aversion is a major human condition – once you have invested the time you are more likely to invest more time, not stop and pull the plug.  But Les didn’t allow us time to linger.  She pushed us through 3-5-7-9 minute sessions that made us test our work – for example – could we pitch it in the 30 seconds? – no?  Then you don’t know what you want.  Could you draw your website using a sharpie and paper – no?  Then you don’t really have a plan yet.  Could someone navigate your sharpie drawn picture website?  no? What needed to be added?  So much time was saved by having these quick sessions thrown together, and feedback and quick conversations to make meaningful changes.

I think Les’s work has been very influential on me moving forwards.  I am less likely to get stuck in the How do I do this stage of design work.  I have found that I am working on drafting and feedback stages more regularly and my project although very simplified has been through rounds of drafts and trials with different possible users to try and get feedback that will shape how it could be used.

takeaways-aways from the Google Innovator days:

Google believes:

Learning is a process: people develop over time through practice, feedback, and reflection.

Learning happens in real life: It occurs through the challenges people face everyday.

Learning is personal: Everyone has their own motivations and preferences about how, when and what they learn. (by the way, nothing is mandatory at Google)

Learning is social: It happens as people interact with and teach each other. (Peers, teams, cohort, informal, and formal settings)

Google has a vision and its beliefs are simple but cover almost everything.  I would like to see our school mission and vision be more specific and the beliefs similar to Google’s simple statements (so we can clearly understand what our school stands for).

Stockholm is amazing, I will be back with my family

That my Experiencing self loved the work that was put before us but my Remembering self wished that the conference had offered more to us as Educator’s and gave us more opportunities to connect and learn from each other’s experiences in education.  I felt it was rushed and I wish we had had more time for the time and money it cost to get to Sweden.

I feel I have let down my team somewhat for being slow and not as engaged in this process.  I have not been as involved in this community – China + not feeling like this was the experience I had hoped it would be and a school that doesn’t use Google so the work I am doing is not given the support it could be if I was somewhere else.  I am hopeful that I will still grow as a tech-using PE person and hope that Google will still feature in my growth along the SAMR lines.

More to come on my own project.

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