Adventures in Innovation

Adventures in Innovation: My Google Innovator Journey

In March, I was accepted into the Google Innovator Program for the #LON17 cohort.  It was probably one of the most exciting moments of my career – actually, one of the most exciting moments of my life.

Now, I haven’t shared much about this journey yet.  The reason?  Honestly, it all still seems a bit unreal and I didn’t want to jinx it.  Was I really accepted into this amazing program?  Do I really have the opportunity to develop an innovation project to create change in the education?  Am I actually headed to London to meet with my #LON17 cohort?  Like, I said – it still seems a bit unreal.  Which is probably why I haven’t written this blog post until today…as I am sitting on the plane headed to London.

Although it feels unreal, I keep reminding myself that this is real and that I have been given an incredible opportunity.  An opportunity that I do not take lightly.  It is an opportunity for me to bring a vision project to life and to create a positive impact in education.

Let me share my journey with you…

The Journey Thus Far

Last September, I like to joke that I fell down the Twitter Rabbit Hole and I never came back out.  My district, Hesperia Unified School District, hosted an EdTechTeam Google Apps for Education Summit and I was introduced to this crazy, wonderful world of professional development.  It is the moment where my professional and person live was forever changed.  I started joining Twitter chats, collaborating with teachers all over the world, and began writing and sharing ideas on my blog.  I developed relationships with other teachers and had some of the most amazing conversations I have had about education and ways to improve student learning.  It has redefined by my teaching practices by inspiring to be more innovative and create lessons that truly prepare students for the future.

In October, I saw that many educators were becoming Google Certified Educators and Trainers.  I found myself thinking that this would be a great way for me to grow personally and professionally.  It would challenge me to continue to grow and refine my teaching practices, as well as share my ideas with other teachers.  By the end of the month, I had passed all of the Google Educator Exams, the trainer exam, and had submitted my Google Trainer application.

Then I waited…I collaborated with educators…I blogged and shared ideas from my classroom…and I waited.

January is where everything started to move quickly.  Quite frankly, it’s been a whirlwind of amazing opportunities and opportunities that have challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone.  By the end of January, I had been accepted into the Google for Education Trainer program and had presented at my first EdTechTeam Summit.  I began receiving feedback on my blog and hearing from teachers that were using my materials in their classrooms.  More importantly, I was having conversations with these teachers on how to improve my materials for future use.

Right after this, the Google Innovator Program announced that they were accepting applications for the next academy which would take place in London.  There was no hesitation in my desire to apply for this program.  I knew I wanted to apply.  For the last few months, I had been reading on Twitter about the amazing Innovation projects that were being completed all over the world.  I was inspired to do the same – to make an impact and a positive change in education to affect student learning.

Through the encouragement and advice of other educators that I admired, I submitted my application for the Google Innovator program.

Then I waited…I collaborated with educators…I blogged and shared ideas from my classroom…and I waited.

On March 15, I received an email that I had been accepted into the Google Innovator Program and that I was being invited to attend the academy in London.  The email came to me during our weekly Math collaboration meeting and I am sure I confused the entire group when I began freaking out from excitement.  Honestly, I had convinced myself that there was no way that I would be accepted.  (This isn’t one of those false humility things, either.)  I knew I had a good idea for an innovation project and I was very excited about the idea of developing it.  However, there are so many amazing educators in the world that applied for this program.  When I received the email, I was honored.  I felt blessed to have this opportunity to create a positive change in education.  Again, it was and never will be an opportunity that I take lightly.

So, here I am…Sitting on a plane and headed to London to the Google Innovator Academy.  It’s still unbelievable.

My Vision…So Far.

The idea for my vision project is something that I had been thinking about for several months before I applied to the Google Innovator Program.  I had been thinking about my school and our educational technology integration.  I asked myself, “What is our greatest issue with implementing purposeful technology in the classroom?”  My district is very fortunate to have access to technology as a 1:1 Chromebook district.  However, I often wonder if we are implementing technology appropriately and purposefully.  Or, are we simply using technology in the classroom to substitute what we were already doing and/or simply for the sake of saying that we use technology.

Had our technology integration been purposeful to students?  Meaningful?  Productive?  Were we using technology in our classrooms as a way to promote student learning, increase rigor, and prepare them for 21st century careers?

As I pondered this idea, I realized that the answer was somewhat vague.  The answer was: sometimes.  Sometimes our technology integration was purposeful, meaningful, and productive.  Sometimes it promoted student learning, increased rigor, and preparation for the 21st century.  Sometimes.  It just depends upon a variety of factors but, mostly, it depends upon the teacher.

So, my question shifted to, “How do we prepare our teachers to implement the purposeful use of technology in the classroom to promote student learning, increased rigor and preparation for the 21st century?”  This question was harder.  Every teacher is at a different level of tech integration with a very different skill base.

Then it hit me.  Our teachers are not much different from our students.  They all learn differently and they all have different set of skills.  Some teachers will learn quickly, some will take time.  Finally, my question shifted to one that would be the basis for much of my vision project:

If we personalize learning for our students, why are we not creating the same personalized professional development to support our teachers with tech integration?

As I began applying to the program, my solution to the problem began to form.  I wanted to develop a program that personalizes professional development for teachers to reach higher levels of SAMR in their lessons, activities, and projects.  I wanted to create a program that allowed teachers to see that incorporating purposeful technology for students is not difficult.  It’s not impossible.  If anything, it can be fun and exciting.  It can transform and redefine classrooms.

Below, I am sharing my Vision Deck and Vision Video that I submitted in my application for the Google Innovator Program.  Feel free to look through these resources and learn more about my vision project.

In the title above, I titled this “My Vision…So Far”.  This is my vision but it is also one that might change as I attend the academy over the next few days.  It is going to change and evolve.  It may even go in a direction previously unimagined.  That’s okay.  In fact, I welcome it.  I welcome the challenge to develop this idea and take it in any direction that will support teachers and inspire students.

I’m excited.  I’m nervous.  But…I’m ready.

Over the next year, I will be chronicling my Google Innovator journey in a series of posts title “Adventures in Innovation” so that I can be reflective on my project and share my ideas with other educators.  Keep an eye out for more posts coming very soon!

4 thoughts on “Adventures in Innovation: My Google Innovator Journey

  1. I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to follow your journey through this project! With my school likely going 1:1 with Chromebooks for the first time next year, I would love to connect and take advantage of a resource like this!

    1. Thank you, Aubrey! Yes, I am excited to share whatever it is that I do. Still not sure exactly what that is yet, but I’m excited. 🙂

      I still think you need to apply for one of the future cohorts!

    1. Thank you! I cannot wait to share with our district. I can’t express how much the support of the district has meant to me. It’s an amazing place to be an educator!

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