I have been very fortunate this past year. I had the opportunity to attend the Google Teacher Academy in New York City in October and visited Facebook Headquarters in Palo Alto in December to discuss digital citizenship education with definetheline.ca. This week I will begin another journey at the Apple Distinguished Educator institute in Austin Texas for the week.
People always ask me how I have managed to visit all these cool places. To get into the Google Teacher Academy and ADE there is an application process (GTA & ADE). The process is not easy and took a lot of time to complete. I definitely did not wait until the last minute to apply. I probably spent a combined 100 hours working on both applications (thank goodness they were not due at the same time). There is a written and video component to both applications. I highly recommend applying and going through the process. It forced me to be much more reflective of my practice which I think should be a requirement of every teacher.
Going to these events are wonderful learning opportunities however the real value comes from the networking and meeting like minded educators. Before twitter, GCT & ADE my personal learning network was small. Often, I felt alone in my fight to bring educational reform, especially being on the frontline. I provide many of the workshops and training for educational technology related topics at my school board. As an ed tech leader you get a lot of pushback and it can get really frustrating. When I attend these events I am able to see that I am not alone. There are many of us tucked away in all corners of the world. We connect at conferences, on twitter and some really lucky ones get to attend the Google Teacher Academy and the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute. What is really great about these teachers is that they are the most generous teachers I have ever met. My network has exploded and I am learning at a pace that I never thought was possible.
Here are three tips for any adventurous teachers interested in applying for any of these wonderful life changing professional development opportunities:
1. Apply for the right reasons:
If you are thinking of applying to these events because you want to put the badge on your site or think it will help your career you are doing it for the wrong reasons. You should be applying because you are deeply invested in the learning opportunities it will create and how it can help your students. The people who are grading your applications sniff out the badge hunters very quickly.
2. Be a connected educator:
Most likely if you are reading this blog post right now you are connected. However, it still amazes me that SO many teachers are still not using social media. I recently read an article by Tom Whitby (Twitterati: Progressive EDU leaders or outliers?) where he estimated that there are probably 200 000 – 300 000 educators on twitter. It seriously blows my mind that more educators are not using social media to connect. I often hear teachers tell me “I don’t have time to go onto twitter” I tell them, “You don’t have time to NOT be on twitter.” I crowdsource ideas and get help from my PLN on a daily basis. I am able to get answers to questions within seconds because I have a wonderful network of educators who are willing and able to share. Which leads me to my next tip..
3. Be willing to share…everything
I remember starting out as a new teacher, the best advice that was given to me was “Why reinvent the wheel?” If you have done it share it. I believe in edukarma, what goes around always comes around. Those who are part of these wonderful networks share everything they create. It is a wonderful culture and community to be part of.
This week I will be sharing my experiences and the really interesting things I learn from Austin Texas. It was my biggest regret after the GTA, I wished I had been more reflective while I was there so this time I won’t be making that mistake twice. Follow my journey on twitter as well @edtechschools
If you are interested these were my application videos: