This morning I arrived back in St. Louis after spending about 48 hours in Chicago for the Google Teacher Academy. On Wednesday September 24th, 53 educators from 17 states converged on the Google Offices invited by Dr. Mark Wagner, CUE and Google for the purpose of networking and looking at the educational applications of the suite of tools offered by Google. The process began with an application in which we were required to make a one minute video and post it on YouTube. About one week later, those who were accepted received an email with an invitation to become a Google Certified Teacher.
The day after I found out that I was accepted I created a Google Site and started inviting others that I knew would be attending to contribute their own information to the site hoping that before we all got together, we would at least be able to put a name to a face. I began searching Twitter posts and blogs for anyone who had posted that they too had been accepted. (The site was down for a short while, but that’s another story.) Over the next three weeks I found a total of 18 future GCT’s and invited them to contribute. Interestingly enough, it paid off. Stephanie Madlinger and I traveled together and met Paul Hieronymus (a GCT from Ohio) at the Rock Bottom Brewry for dinner on Tuesday evening. We had a great time sharing ideas and experiences and speculating about what the following day would hold.
On Wednesday morning, Stephanie and I walked the eight blocks from our hotel to the Google offices. As we passed the front of the building I recognized Fred Koch standing on Kinzie Street and knew that the site had paid off. We all introduced ourselves, checked in with Allison Merrick and began our amazing day of sharing and learning.
Over the course of the day we collaborated with fellow teachers, were introduced to tools and applications and became inspired by speakers. The day flew by and before we knew it we were done. I’m still reeling a little from the sheer volume of information and learning that took place that day but one of the most important things had to do with the people that I met. My personal learning network has expanded yet again and I’m excited about the possibilities.
I have had many professional development opportunities during my educational career and many of them have been very transformative. GTA is now at the top of my list of these experiences. As I reflect on the day, the most valuable parts of were the connections and conversations in which I participated. The opportunity to be a part of such a diverse and forward thinking group was well worth the trip and I look forward to future opportunities stemming from the event. I encourage anyone with any inclination to apply and have the same experience. To all my new friends, thank you for your expertise, sharing and vision. Let us all continue to share our knowledge and learn from each other as often as possible.