Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Google Innovator Ride

I am sitting at the airport waiting for the flight that will take me to Toronto to the Google Innovator Academy. It is hard to believe that just one month ago I was biting my nails and wondering whether I would be accepted. Some people from past cohorts have said that becoming a Google Certified Innovator is the ride of your life. That picture fits my journey so far.

The first part of getting on a ride is to stand next to the marker that lets you know if you are tall enough. Like a kid who can't wait to grow, I have been applying to academies since 2012. Before 2015, they were called the Google Teacher Academy. The application process is rigorous and involves the creation of a video as well as some reflection pieces. I put together an application for the Mountainview academy in 2012, and application for Atlanta or Mountainveiw (one application for two cohorts) in 2014, and an application for the Texas cohort in 2014 as well. some of these applications were completed quickly at the deadline, others were the result of some significant thought and effort. None were accepted. I wasn't tall enough for the ride....yet!

The yet is important, I wasn't giving up. I spent time becoming a Google for Education Trainer in the hopes that this would help. I have no idea whether it does, but it was certainly a great learning process. I watched and waiting for the new Google Innovator Academy model. I completed my Level 1 and Level 2 Educator certificates in the summer of 2015. By the time the application for the first cohort came around in December, I was ready! I spent weeks trying to get everything just right. I was sure that I had it this time, only to find out in January that I still didn't make the cut. By May, I had decided that I would just keep applying forever if I needed to, until they had to accept me. My project proposal for that application was the best yet. The day of the announcements, I was able to spend with Sandra Chow, a Google Innovator whom I admire. I thought it was a great omen. When I finally heard that I still had some growing to do, I was pretty crushed. I think this was the first time I cried at being refused. I was so frustrated at having given it my all and having no idea which piece needed improvement anymore. 

But, if we are willing, we can keep growing, even in adulthood. This summer, I put together yet another application (number 6 for those keeping count - the 7th academy I was applying to), this time for Toronto.  Surely in my home country I stood a chance of being accepted. I listened to the advice from other Innovators in a Google Hangout. I showed pieces to colleagues and asked for feedback and advice. I also made an effort to change the style of video to something very different than what I had done previously and to draw connections between the various reflection pieces. I don't know if my project idea was judged to be more innovative, or whether it was one of these other changes, but this one was accepted! Finally, I would be allowed to ride the ride

Looking back over my applications (and yes, I've kept many of them), I can see the growth in my thinking over time. It is the documenting of this growth, like marking a child's growth on the door frame, that has caused me to leave all the videos from all my applications on my YouTube channel. We don't erase the marks from last year because a child is taller, and the child is not embarrassed by having been smaller. So to with my videos.

So, at the beginning of September, I got in line with the other members of my cohort. Like a really great ride, though we can see glimpses from the line, it is mostly hidden from sight as we wait. Have you ever been on a really great ride with a line filled with stuff to look at, things to think about, and even activities that get you chatting with the people waiting around you? That's what the past month has been like. We have connected together as a cohort and also as a team in solving a Breakout activity together.  We have given each other feedback on our projects, laughed and joked together, and even made T-Shirts!

Finally, today, we reach the front of the line. It is our turn to ride. In about an hour, I will board the ride and buckle up. I believe that the best ride experience is when you go all in. It doesn't matter much where you sit, but you need to give yourself over to the ride and experience it fully. So here is me, letting go and holding my hands way up in the air, getting ready for the ride.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My EdCamp Global Experience

When I explained EdCamp Global to some colleagues in June and invited them to join me, they looked at me as though I was crazy.
It wasn't in my mind, a couple even told me they thought I was crazy! Staying up for 24 hours to do online sessions? Not one of them wanted to join me.

Well, it was most definitely their loss! Here is some of the learning I have done over the past 24 hours.

I joined a Voxer chat about the importance of finding your people. The conversation was meaningful and, best of all, I added several new people to my PLN. Have you tried Voxer? It is such a nice way to have a conversation that is synchronous, but that keeps going into the asynchronous once time runs out. You can leave a voice message, so the conversation feels very personal, but you can share taxt and images too to convey what isn't easy out loud. I highly recommend that you check out Voxer.

The first challenge that participants completed was to each make a slide to introduce themselves in a shared Google Slides deck. I was asked to use the slides to create a collaborative EdCamp Global 2016 movie, something I have done for previous events. Here is the result:

I participated in more challenges and listened to more sessions, all the while connecting with fantastic educators from all over the US and Canada. I confess that I did not stay up all night, but I did stay up until 3:30 and start again at 7:00. Being tired, but motivated to keep up the intensive learning is part of the EdCamp Global fun.

One of my main goals during this event was to being broadcasting on Periscope.  I have been exploring the possibility of using Periscope for about three weeks since EdCamp Voxer. I decided that I needed some motivation to just start, and EdCamp Global was it. I participated in a session on the Power of Periscope with Heather Marrs (@hmarrs24) and Cassie Reeder (@reeder_cassie). The session was great because it included tips about how to do a good scope and how to get followers. We also shared our handles and followed each other. Now I feel like I have a group of buddies who are just starting out with Periscope too as well as some mentors to answer questions. I had a ball completing the scavenger hunt scopes for this session. I will definitely be using this tool to connect with teachers during the school year.

Here is one of my very first scopes. It is about my summer reading.

I need to go back and re-watch the #BookSmash and #AppSmash sessions to be sure that I remember all the great tools and ideas that were shared. That's the beauty of these session - you can go back! I added some of the Hangouts on Air that I wanted to check out again, or that conflicted with other sessions to a YouTube Playlist. I also added plenty of shared files to a folder in Google Drive. The EdCamp Global learning doesn't end this weekend because I can go back anytime during the year and access the information and tools when I need them. I watched scopes about Augmented reality and virtual reality, and generally dreamed of possibilities.

One of the last scopes I attended was about developing your PLN on social media. This session brought everything together. I need to promote social media and development of PLNs for our teachers this coming year.

Thanks for a great 24 hours, EdCamp Global. I think I'm fired up enough to get to Christmas!!
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