It’s just over a week until applications close for the next Google Teacher Academy in Chicago. For those not in the know, every few months Google puts on a PD session for 50 teachers at a Googleplex.
You can read more about the academy here.
I was very fortunate to be selected for the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney earlier this year and would definitely encourage anyone interested in applying to give it a go. You’ll learn tons, gain an awesome network of educators and make chocolate unicorns Seriously my head is still in meltdown mode a month after the event.
The competition for places is tough but applying is one of the smartest things you’ll do today! The worst that could happen is they say no.
But what about the application you say?
The Google Teacher Academy application consists of two parts. This first is a form consisting of details about your teaching context and a series of written paragraphs. The next part is the video in which you only have 60 seconds to sell your application. I would rate the video application as one of the most challenging assignments I have undertaken since my Honours dissertation. At the beginning of the process I didn’t know how I would fill the time, by the end I was frantically cutting content to keep to the time limit.
Draw on the wisdom of others
Fortunatey the types of teachers drawn to applying for the Google Teacher Academy are also the types to share their experiences online. Watch some application videos, read blog posts, go to any hangouts. Even unsuccessful applications have ideas that will be useful for your application. Make sure you get someone else to look at your application before submitting it. A critical eye can change something from being so-so to awesome.
Be the purple cow
In a sea of black and white cows, you need to be the one people notice. Instead of focusing of buzz words or flashy effects, make sure you tell your story. You’ve only got 60 seconds, make them count. My video application was a decidedly low-tech affair that talked about a student project (although I remain in awe of Matt’s ability to pack a punch in 60 seconds).
It’s not actually about you
Student learning needs to be at the forefront of your application. In fact a lot of the content that I used in my video was stuff that the kids or I had created for other purposes. Treat your application as an oppourtunity to showcase what makes your classroom awesome (my students work is licenced under a Creative Commons licence) .
Ok lets be honest. Google isn’t throwing this hard-core geeking out session for educators for the LOLz (although rest assured there will be plenty of LOLz). The company is interested in how you are using Google the classroom. Your class might have an awesome blog or have created a huge global network but you do need to give Google some snaps in your application.
You don’t need to have a huge number of devices to be awesome.
My class isn’t even close to having 1:1 devices. Officially I have 8 classroom netbooks, 3 iPod touches, an iPad and a teacher Macbook. Nevertheless I like to think that my class and I punch aboce our weight in what we do with the technology. To be sure being a Google Apps school helps in terms of drawing on experience using all things Google but as far as I’m aware it’s not a pre-requisite for getting in. Forget about what you don’t have and focus on the awesome stuff you do.
Treat the application like a job interview
Getting into the Google Teacher Academy is not so much an award as an opportunity to gain knowledge and connections to make yourself a more awesome educator.
Please bear in mind that as a new Google Certified Teacher I have no idea why I was chosen as one of the 50 in Sydney. There are a lot of awesome and far more experienced teachers who missed out.
Which leaves one more thing.
If you don’t get in, try again.