ConnectedTL, Google Certified Innovator, Professional Development

What does it mean to be a member of the Google Teacher Academy Cohort – Austin, TX? #GTAATX

There are few moments in our lives as educators that we get to see the benefits of our hard work.¬†Occasionally, a student might write a letter or drop into our classroom a few years after they’ve graduated to tell us that they appreciated “bla, bla, and bla.” Or maybe you’ll run into a parent at the grocery store and hear gratitude and appreciation for the work their child is doing or goals they are working on. If we’re smart, we hang on to those gems because there will be plenty of days when we need them.

For the past 4 years of my professional career, I have aimed to help students and teachers set goals, take risks, and achieve greatness through logic, critical thinking, and instructional technology. The teacher I am today only exists because of the students and teachers who have allowed me in to their world enough to help them see that the unthinkable is indeed possible and even eminent. I have used Google Apps to help me with this journey and have spent hours learning about the tools and sharing my knowledge with other in the hopes that they will become regular practitioners of the resources – not because the tools are shiny or quick or new or cool, but because the tools help you think differently about education, relationships, and creation.

I recently found out I was accepted into the Google Teacher Academy, Austin, TX this coming December. First of all, this was a long-shot to say the least. With so many applicants from all over the world, there was only about a 5-7% chance I would get in. The risks involved were huge and I kept it private from so many people because I was afraid of failing publicly, or looking like I was “out of my league,” or maybe just appearing like I was in over my head. But, as I put my video together and really saw my school community represented in such an innovative light, I realized that no matter what happens, I was proud of myself for putting my name in the hat. I saw that as an accomplishment in and of itself because every other time I had psyched myself out of it. This time was different. I was ready to not only learn at that level but also bring the learning back to my district and share it out. My district has provided a forum for our professional development, and there are venues in place to not only share the knowledge but encourage others to share their knowledge too.

So, what does GTA mean for my district?

First off, a Google Certified Teacher learns how to create action plans for professional development that directly impact their local community. I will walk away with a draft of an articulated PD vision for Google training in our district to then take back and add to the conversation already taking place.

Second, the conversations are game-changing. Whether it’s the early-morning idea exchanges on Voxer or the chats in Google+ or posts in our Google+ Community, these 50 educators are connected. We are connected not only to each other, but to a wide network of super smart people who are just as dedicated to professional growth and innovation as we are. Those conversation spawn critical thinking and planning that relate directly to our local communities. Being a connected teacher helps you show others how to get connected themselves.

Third, we will be getting high quality PD surrounding Google products from some of the best in the world. So often, we are busy providing the PD and don’t get to receive it. I’m so excited that this is a chance to be a learner and explorer so that I can bring these skills back to my community.

Finally, we will be thinking about learning and leading in new ways. We will be dreaming and imagining and creating, and from there we can return to our districts and school sites reinvigorated with passion and excitement that entices others to seek out more info.

So while this opportunity is mine to take, it is really ours to enjoy because none of us work in isolation. We are connected educators who already understand the benefits of discussion, inquiry, and curiosity. I hope to bring back new skills, a deepened passion, and a better understanding for the big picture that each of us are shooting for: preparing our students and teachers for this world and the innovative world of the future that we can’t define yet.

Just for kicks, here’s my #GTAATX video. Enjoy!

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