Google Teacher Academy or Bust!

As I try to grow as an educator, I am constantly looking for great professional experiences to help me grow in ways that I can not imagine.  I believe that the Google Teacher Academy could be one of those experiences and I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about it lately.  As part of the Google Teacher Academy I would be connected to great educators across the country, be able to share and collaborate with those that also view technology as a way to create a better learning environment for all learners and get connected to resources that can help me become better.

(If you do not know about the Google Teacher Academy, go here and find out more.)

The application process is pretty simple, but there is a bit of complexity hidden in there.  Other than some background questions and data, you have to have a teaching resume that is focused on the qualities needed for the program, two essay questions with a 800 character limit to your answers, and a 1 minute video showing how you innovate in the classroom. The teaching resume forced me to work on a resume for the first time without a job change in mind.  I focused on adding all of the trainings I have given, the conferences I have presented at and those other pieces of information about my professional life that will help me stand out.

The essay questions were on topics that I have already spent a considerable amount of time writing about but the 800 character limit was a challenge.  I have never been one who is good at writing out very short answers to questions, my tweets sometimes needs a bit of work before I can get under the 140 characters.  I wrote out my answers in a Google Doc and then did a quick letter count, forgetting of course about the spaces and other characters that would be counted.  This caused me to do some editing and I ended up changing the wording for half of one answer.  I wonder how our students would do if we did this, instead of setting a minimum character count, set up a maximum to make them really focus their ideas and thoughts.  I have heard of teachers using Twitter for students to answer questions, this could easily be done in many different ways.

The one part of the application that I spent the most time, especially since I started thinking about it months ago, was the 1 minute video.  I “applied” last year, the quotes are needed because it was not a great application, and I wanted to make sure I had a great video that helped me stand out while at the same time showing who I am as an educator.  The video was centered on “How do you innovate in the classroom or educational community to generate positive change?”  It had to be creative and original and had to answer the question.  My main answer for this would be centered around the idea that we can not keep doing what we have been doing in the past.  We need to be able to use technology to create new experiences for our students in order to help them learn the way that they want and deserve.  If I just talked about my answer, it would definitely have taken more than a minute.  Instead I had to look for a way to show this without just talking about it.  This was similar to questions in the past for the video and I had been thinking of those for awhile, with no great way to show my answer being discovered.  Just after I deleted yet another attempt, it hit me like a eureka moment.  I just had to shoot a few more scenes with my green screen, some quick background shots and then spend a couple hours editing and I was done.  I had created a video that I think answers the question while also showing the creativity needed to help our students today.  The video follows and while the editing could be better, had a little trouble with some green screen work due to the lighting, I think it turned out great.

Even if I do not get accepted this time does not matter, I will keep trying as I see this as one of those experiences that can really help me as an educator.  We have to be in a growth mindset constantly and can never settle for just being “good enough”.

UPDATE – Didn’t make it this time, but will still try again for Austin in December.

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