The Big Daddy of Google for Education – Google Certified Innovator. An elite group of educators who have a passion for innovative teaching and learning. And now a title that I can proudly add to my resume.
It’s so hard to believe that just 2 days ago I was in the room full of amazingly brilliant people who are just as passionate about transforming teaching and learning. People who I now call my friends….my family.
What IS a Google Innovator?
Google for Education Innovators are ambassadors for change and empower other educators and students. They want to change the world of education by tackling complex opportunities to develop new-to-the-world solutions and already foster a thriving innovation culture within their own classrooms, schools and organizations. (via the Google for Education EduTraining Center)
As part of the program, Certified Innovators receive 12 months of ongoing support for an Innovation Project that you’re passionate about, participation in an Innovation Academy, rich programming and ongoing opportunities for growth and collaboration, and access to a global community of other Innovators. The goal of the Innovation Academy is to build community and trust, create connections with Coaches and Advisors, get inspired by Googley culture, and prepare to complete their Innovation Project within 12 months. The foundation of the Innovator Program are the tenets of Transform, Advocate, and Grow.
At the Academy
The Academy is designed as a workshop to inspire and build capacity for Innovators, while giving us the opportunity to spend a great deal of time delving into our projects.
My project focused around this question:
How might we create an easily searchable space for classrooms and kids to list, find, and connect with each other through their blogs.
Check out my application here and my Vision Video and Slide Deck below:
I arrived into Toronto around noon. Luckily, I was not alone (my mom was seriously worried about that) as #TOR16 Coach, Donnie Piercey and #TOR16 colleague David Lockhart were on the flight with me. We met up with #TOR16 coach, Rafranz Davis and #TOR16 colleague James Allen, took the train to Union Station, and had a 10 minute walk to the hotel.
After we checked in, we were able to experience the famous Canadian dish, poutine, and then prepared for our opening session.
We were welcomed by the amazing organizers, Becky Evans and Justin LeCap in addition our coaches and the many Canadians who were a part of our cohort.
We were then broken into groups and by the end of the night we had to come up with a team name, chant, and theme song for graduation. We decided on the name GSweet7. Rafranz was our coach and this is the group we completed in the challenges with.
Our graduation theme song was Macklamore and Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us”.
Before we arrived to the academy, we’d received mini BreakoutEDU boxes that the group needed to collaborate with in order to figure out our next steps. After that we had to create our own Breakout to be used to introduce ourselves to our group.
Days 2 & 3: Sparks & Sprints
The Innovation Academy was framed by a series of Sparks and Sprints. I’m going to highlight the other two days of my experience through these two concepts.
Sparks were the sessions designed to build capacity, influence development of new projects, and otherwise “spark“ a new thought or idea.
Throughout the two days, we were treated to short sparks by our outstanding coaches: Michelle Armstrong, Sandra Chow, Rafranz Davis, Sylvia Duckworth, Jeffrey Humphries, Donnie Piercey, Afzal Shaikh – in addition to Google employees Liz Anderson (Google EDU), Prachie Banthia (Product Manager, G Suite for Education), Aaron Brindle (Head of Public Affairs, Google Canada), Becky Evans (Global Program Manager), Wendy Gorton (Program Manager), and Mark Wagner (CEO of EdTechTeam).
We created a light bulb with the use of a mason jar, pencil lead, batteries, tape, electric connectors, and a toilet paper roll. We learned (kinda….well not really) how to juggle with Donnie. Rafranz guided us along as we created our signature story. Sylvia gave us a mini Sketchnoting Bootcamp while Sandra talked to us about perspective and focus. Afzal allowed us to use his students’ littleBits kits in order to complete a mini maker challenge. Mark talked to us about passion while Michelle, Becky, Wendy, and Justin kept everything moving smoothly along.
Each of the Sparks gave us something to think about ourselves as innovators and some really neat collaborative activities. As a matter of fact, I’m very excited to implement a few of these ideas with my DCSD Digital Transformation Academy!
In addition, we even had a Spark Camp where members of our cohort shared. I shared how music and movement helps to engage learners.
Sprints were 30-minute intense and flexible work periods sprinkled throughout the two days. These work periods are specifically designed for us to push our projects forward.
We were so fortunate to have the amazing Les McBeth with us to help with the mapping out of our vision projects. We used the IDEO’s Design Thinking for Educators as the philosophical foundation to guide us through shipping our project.
Now I continue the work. I will choose a mentor who will assist me on my journey along with my coach. I will work to make my vision a reality. It is my goal to begin the process with teachers in my district, staring with my academy, and then growing from there. I’m looking forward to the journey ahead!
Until the next time,