I first posted this letter and video in one of my webinars last week. Since then I have received private emails and one on Facebook asking to see it again. Funny, at first I didn’t know if I should even share it wondering if it would come off as somewhat self righteous, but I thought it was too powerful not to share
Hi Susan, I’ve thought about writing this note for years. I’m not quite sure why I did not do it earlier. Maybe it felt a little like brown-nosing! But after you shared your new ebook, I read the introduction and realized that this was a story you need to know. Feel free to share it – I tell this story all the time and it is 100% true! After reading it, click the link to a 4 minute video that tells the story in a powerful way.
One January many years ago (1998-ish), my friend and I found ourselves driving to Jacksonville, FL to attend a dog training seminar. We had been coerced into going and had to take time off from work to attend, both of us being educators. (She was a chemistry teacher and I was a district-level teacher for instructional technology.) We knew the day was going to be a waste of time and spent the entire two hour drive bitching about everything we could think of. “Who was this Susan Garrett anyway?” “I don’t believe in clicker training.” “I can’t believe I took a day off from work to do this.” “How did we get talked into this?”
We arrived and settled in, firm in our expectations that the day would be useless. Within 15 minutes, not only was I proven wrong, my life literally changed forever. That may sound like hyperbole, but I assure you it is not. When I realized the truth of what Susan was there to teach, I cried over the level to which I had failed my dogs in the past and the opportunities I had lost as a teacher.
The connection between what Susan does and the power of constructivist learning in children hit me like a ton of bricks. My dog training experiences over the next few years and my work across 60 schools in my district (and later across the world) eventually caused me to create a presentation called Kids, Canines, And Constructivism, which outlines (using videos of kids and dogs in different learning situations) the similarities between traditional dog training and traditional school. In both settings, learners shut down and lose the ability to learn deeply. I have presented this across the United States, Canada and England, keynoting educational conferences and working with districts and national organizations.
I eventually told this story through a simple video called Reflections. This video explains how I had always seen myself a great teacher – district teacher of the year and winner of many many awards. But the truth is, if I saw myself as a great teacher,I was looking in the wrong place.
My life changed in 15 minutes one cold January morning, because even though I had arrived close-minded, Susan’s message got through. The new ebook, “On Being a Good Dog Training Student”, reminds me how lucky I was that day. But you don’t have to be lucky – this book outlines how you can choose to be a great student, abandon your ego, and become a fearless learner.
When I asked Diane if I could share her email this is what she wrote back;
I’m thrilled you can use my story to help people! I’ve been using it for years and years to help other educators. When you tell other teachers why their teaching practices have to change, they put up a wall and think, “You can’t tell me anything. I’ve been teaching for 20 years…” But if you first talk to them about dog training and show videos of dogs brought up using old choke-chain, ear-pinch methods being asked to learn something new and videos of what I like to call “the constructivist dog” learning, they listen because they are not dog trainers and nod seeing the undeniable outcomes. And THEN – I show them videos of kids from traditional classrooms and constructivist classrooms, and they show ALL the same behaviors, they can no longer pretend that what I’m saying isn’t true. I end by telling them my story of the day I met you and I show them the video. There is always stunned silence and sometimes tears. And then I tell them that I hope I’ve been some small part of their 15 minutes that changes them forever.
So you are welcome to use any of that story and video in any way you want forever.
I know I have written many times that my big vision for my life is to help dogs be better understood and to make a positive difference in the lives of dog owners world wide. And I know that a lot of my Inner Circle group are now living this vision with me. So I would like to encourage each of you also to;
Share what you know.
Start with one dog, maybe help a neighbour with their dog.
Some may call me crazy. What possible difference can we make? With all the dogs in the world and with all of the conflicting training advise being given to dog owners, what possible difference can one person make in the big scheme of things? Well, I am not easily discouraged. I know can we all can make a difference even if it is just one dog at a time, because to that one dog, it is all of the difference in the world.
Here is Diane’s video.
Today I humbled to think I have played a small role in the amazing work Diane is doing in educating children and I am grateful to her for allowing me to share her story with all of you.