Monday, October 10, 2016

Let's Go Back a Bit

Before I share my reflections about the Google for Education Innovator Academy, let me focus on how I got here…

As a life-long learner I always seek my own professional development. My “go-to” over the past few years has been my PLN on Twitter. There, sharing is short and focussed, while discussion is honest and based on teacher experiences and/or opinions. I seek out who to connect with for further information, support on a new idea or transforming an old one.

As the school year started to wind down, there was new discussion and a sense of excitement about educators preparing to take the Google Certification Level 1 and Level 2. It was great reading how supportive teachers were in sharing tips and strategies to prepare for the online modules and assessment.   So I decided that this would be a great way to ease out of the hustle & bustle of the school year and ease into summer vacation.

For the first two weeks of July, I navigated through the training modules at my own pace, reviewing sections as needed and completing quizzes before each unit assessment. By the end of the second week I registered for the online exam feeling pretty good about myself. Once I received the email that the Performance Based Exam was ready for me to take, I gave myself a day to just breathe before beginning.

So, I set myself up in the kitchen and sent my boys to their own spaces so that I could have some quiet time to take the exam. Of course, they (both teens) interrupted me a few times, all of a sudden forgetting how to fend for themselves… needing snack, a moment of my time and my favourite “whatcha doing?”. Once I had them settled into something away from my space I sat down again only to find the WiFi icon looking for networks! UGH! I waited patiently but felt like I was unable to complete one of the tasks as well as I had hoped. So, I moved on. After two and a half hours, clicked submit and I was spent. A few minutes later I received a message indicating: Examination Unsuccessful. I felt defeated. So I let it go for several weeks… focussing on my boys and summer time.

Then, in mid-August out-of-the-blue my boys asked me about the Google Certification exam. I told them I didn’t pass after much preparation and feeling good about it at the time. They responded with “so, you took it again and then what?” and I replied with a “no, I didn’t”. Their response, “mom, this is going to be a teachable moment from us to you”. Oh, how the tables have turned as they reminded me about getting back up and following through. So, I did. I sought out feedback from other teachers online and came across “How to Pass Google Certification Exams” by Sylvia Duckworth. Feeling revitalized I reviewed each of the Level 1 units as suggested and passed the exam. The following week I took my time and went through each aspect of the Level 2 unit lessons, reviewed quizzes and unit tests before taking and passing Level 2.
**NOTE: this time I had the boys at home very busy while completing the examination. NO one watching Netflix or playing any online games.

Shortly after this I shared my success on Twitter showing off my new digital badges! Then I started receiving DM messages from educators suggesting I look into the Google for Education Certified Innovator application especially with it being right here in Toronto! Now, I have been in awe of the many amazing educators who have had the opportunity to collaborate within this cohort. What the heck would I have to offer? Then my co-teaching partner mentioned that one thing most teachers in our Family of Schools have been visiting or requesting to visit our class has been our Business Day venture. This only seemed like a natural progression of sharing our project further beyond our classroom walls. So… within a few days, I completed the application, my Vision Deck and Vision Video… I shared it with several teachers who I trust would be honest in their feedback and based on their feedback I made several iterations prior to my submission on the eve of the deadline.

The next few days were filled with gut wrenching anticipation. Then announcement time came and went. As educators started sharing their excitement on Twitter that they were invited to the Innovator Academy. Feeling disheartened all I could do was focus on the excitement of others... after all they will be the educators I would be following over the next few months to learn more about and be inspired by their projects. Then I saw messages stating... check your spam box. What? A glimmer of hope. Could a message be waiting in my spam box? Well... there it was, waiting for me to accept the invitation to attend the Innovator Academy. AWESOME!

 From here, I can't even begin to explain how amazing it has been as we #TOR16 #GoogleEI cohort began to collaborate, make connections and build relationships leading up to the Academy dates. Maybe, another time.

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