Ed Tech

A peek behind the curtain: Google Teacher Academy

The Google Teacher Academy in Austin, Texas, is nearly here! Here's what I think I'll be seeing there. I can't wait to share it with you!

The Google Teacher Academy in Austin, Texas, is nearly here! Here’s what I think I’ll be seeing there. I can’t wait to share it with you!

The day has finally arrived.

At 3:12 p.m. EST, I’ll be flying out of Indianapolis International Airport en route to Austin, Texas, home of this round of the Google Teacher Academy.

I’m so excited about what I’ll be able to learn there, and I’m excited to turn around and share like crazy with you afterward. (There will be lots of tweets and posts, so follow me on Twitter and/or on Google Plus if you want all the up-to-the-minute updates. Plus, the #GTAATX hashtag for our academy will be busy as well.)

But for now, I’d like to let you see what I’m expecting to see over the next few days.

The program

First, about Google Teacher Academy (quickly). Officially, here’s the description from CUE, the organization conducting the academy:

“Google Teacher Academy (GTA) is a free professional development experience designed to help primary and secondary educators from around the globe get the most from innovative technologies.”

Basically, hundreds of educators apply to GTA from around the globe, completing a questionnaire, a few short essays and a one-minute video on how they want to impact education in a positive way. (Here’s my video if you’d like to see it.)

Standing desks. I'm in heaven.

Standing desks. I’m in heaven.

Fifty (plus or minus) are selected to attend. We were instantly added to a Google Plus community and very quickly set up a Voxer group as well. (If Voxer is new to you, here’s a post on how it can be a great method of sharing and learning.)

(By the way, the Google Plus community and Voxer group serve as a great lesson for any kind of professional learning. If there’s a channel of communication before and after a learning event (and if the learners are motivated to learn), that learning can be extended days, weeks or months (or more!) beyond the actual event. I have already learned a ton from my GTA cohort and already feel like I know them before we meet.)

Educators who complete the Google Teacher Academy become Google Certified Teachers.

This article at Edudemic spells out many more details of the Google Teacher Academy and becoming a Google Certified Teacher.

Count this as the only place I know to work that has a psychedelic piano.

Count this as the only place I know to work that has a psychedelic piano.

What I’m expecting in Austin

There’s a lot that’s been shared with us about what to expect at the Google Teacher Academy, but there’s still much to discover and experience.

For one, I’m excited to see Google’s offices in Austin. Some members of our GTA cohort have visited the offices and it’s unique to say the least. They’ve shared some pictures that I’ve added throughout this post. Thanks to Brandie Cain-Heard, Ciane Grossman and Kasey Bell for sharing them!

Our agenda spans 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and a bit shorter day on Wednesday. What excites me about the draft agenda I’ve seen for the academy is that much of the learning goes beyond “here’s how to use our tools.” We will be challenged to think big, to dream. One part of the academy should focus on “Moonshot Thinking,” something I recently blogged about.

The entire place is decorated to show Austin's unique flavor.

The entire place is decorated to show Austin’s unique flavor.

There’s also an action plan, where the newly-credentialed Google Certified Teachers craft a project that utilizes their new learning. Often, GCTs will team together to do something to benefit targeted communities. I’ve started considering the idea of an action plan, but I have no specific ideas in place — and that’s kind of by design. My hope is to do what my roommate at the academy, James Petersen, said: go with an open mind and a blank Google document.

One part of Google Teacher Academy that I’m looking forward to is learning from the others in attendance. There are several opportunities for us to learn from each other. There will be short “Inspiring Idea” presentations as well as an Edcamp-style unconference time where we can share ideas we’re passionate about.

I'd love to work at a place where I had cool places like this to hang out.

I’d love to work at a place where I had cool places like this to hang out.

This, to me, is one of the most underutilized areas of professional development in schools and at conferences. When a group of educators come together, they all have areas of expertise and things they’re excited about. And they’re teachers by nature, so if given an opportunity to teach, they’re probably going to take it!

I’m so excited about this trip, but I’m most excited about being able to take you along with me. To make this trip as interactive for all of us as possible, tell me something …

What would you like to learn through my trip to the Google Teacher Academy? If I can find something out for you, what would it be? Leave a comment here and make sure to add your e-mail address (which is not displayed on the website … just to me). I’ll do my best over the next few days to find out, and I’ll e-mail you (and probably write about) what I learn!

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6 things I learned in 3 hours at Google Teacher Academy

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