Reflections on My Google Teacher Academy (GTA)
Application & Acceptance Process
Apply for the GTA? Yeah, right!
I don't have the time. I am leaving for vacation on June 8 and I would need to complete a lengthy application (with all these word limits), make a 1 minute video that demonstrates my "Googliness", and submit everything to Google by June 10 (and in my case before June 8). Nope, I have to get a family of four packed and ready to leave the country. I have way too much to do.
I would be competing with other educators from all over the world. Many of these people are edtech integration specialists and directors, instructional technologists, professional development coordinators, CIOs, seasoned teachers, seriously high achievers, etc., I am a teacher-librarian at a PreK-8 charter school. What can I offer to the Google Certified Teaching community? The chances of acceptance are very, very, low.
Rejection sucks! To put time into something, make your case, build up your hopes, and then be told "thanks but no thanks"--that's just too depressing to think about. Nope, I am just going to wait for another opportunity.
Shushing My Lizard Brain
Seth Godin wrote about "quieting our lizard brain". You know, that part of your brain that tells you hold off, wait, be fearful, it's not the right time, everything is cool, change is scary and don't take an unnecessary risks.
I needed to shush my lizard brain!
Yes, I am a teacher-librarian and I am also a forward thinking educator. Five years ago I leaned way in to bring GAFE to our school. I continue to lean-in evangelizing and modeling the meaningful and purposeful use of technology to enhance and augment teaching and learning. I am our school's Google Czar, responsible for leading an internal team of GAFE Individual Qualified (IQ) teachers that conduct training for staff and parents. I want GCT status, it is tantamount to Google's Good Housekeeping seal of approval and it will lend credibility to my efforts and our school's continued commitment to GAFE as a productivity and collaboration platform.
I come from a hightech background and in that world it's all about getting the product out the door, shipping. If we waited for the perfect set of features and functionality and no bugs, we would never ship. I can't let perfect get in the way of better. I need to try, I need to ship now!
I shipped my GTA application and video on June 8 and promptly left for a family vacation. I would periodically check my email, waiting, wondering, they said I would be notified on or before July 19. Got home on July 18, kept checking, nothing. I suspected applicants had already been selected and I may not event get a rejection letter.
On July 19 I literally avoided my computer. Finally, I sat down to look over a Google Doc I had been putting together when I noticed that my GMail tab was indicating a new email had arrived. I clicked over and in the subject line:
Google Teacher Academy - Chicago 2013 Invitation
What the what? Are you serious? I opened the email and there it was,
You have been selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy - Chicago.
Take that lizard brain! I was one of 50 applicants accepted to GTA Chicago out of about 550 applicants. I felt like a kid that got the must have Christmas gift for that year, e.g., Cabbage Patch Kid, American Girl doll, Xbox 360, Tickle Me Elmo, Beanie Babies, etc. You get the idea, right? I was very excited! I immediately texted my hubby because he was the one that encouraged me to tune out my lizard brain and go for it. All along he said I would get accepted. He's a glass half full kind of guy.
With acceptance came a flood of Twitter and G+ followers. Suddenly I was virtually embraced by other Google Certified Teachers and Trainers, and PLN gurus. I went from 63 G+ followers to 160 and on Twitter I picked up an additional 40 followers. It was like the Bizarro Jerry episode of Seinfeld where George manages to get into this club of beautiful women and supermodels. Wait, does that mean I am George Costanza? I always saw myself more as Liz Lemmon. The tsunami of connections, information, and encouragement I have tapped into since GTA acceptance is a wave I will ride all the way to Chicago and beyond.
So, for now, my lizard brain is silent. Next week at this time I will be heading home from two intense days of GTA training and I will have my GCT seal of approval and I be a contributing member of GCT community. Most importantly, I shipped!