I went to the Gawler Show with my family the weekend before last, and it was a wonderful day. We had camel and pony rides, patted the animals, looked at all the stalls, bought some toys, got given balloons and generally had a most excellent day.
And as we left, we decided to indulge in some show food. One of the food vans was selling what they claimed to be “The best Dagwood Dogs in the land”. And you know what? They were! If hadn’t already left the show and walked halfway down the street to our car when we had finished, we would have bought another one.
But even as I ate this faboulous Dagwood Dog, I wondered, “Sure it’s good, but why is it so much better than any other one I’ve ever had?” And soon I had quite a list:
- It had just the right level of salt. Most Dagwood Dogs are way too salty, but this one was just right.
- The batter wasn’t greasy. Instead it was fluffy and light.
- The batter had corn and peas mixed into it! I have never seen this before but I’m amazed no-one has ever thought of it.
- The flavour was so good I wanted to keep eating it even after the bit with the tomato sauce was gone.
- The stick they used had a wider bit at the bottom so you could properly hold onto it.
Later that day, it occurred to me that I very naturally evaluated my Dagwood Dog. It was so easy for me to make the decision of whether it was good or not, and to come up with a list of reasons why it was good.
So why is it so hard to do this when it comes to teaching and learning? When I have a particularly good class, do I stop to think about why it was good so I can achieve it again? When my students fill out a SELT for my seminar, they quickly decide if it was good or bad, but do they give me a list of things that made it good or bad, so I can do better next time?
Yet, it was such a natural thing to do this for my Dagwood Dog. I reckon we could all start using our natural food-evaluation instincts on our teaching and learning, and then perhaps we could claim we have “The Best Teaching in the Land”.