WOW!!! What an incredible six months this has been. It is hard to believe that it has been only that short of time since I was in Washington D.C. for Google Teacher Academy. I have gained so many friends, opportunities, and experiences from GTA. I have also had the opportunity to share my experiences with others through workshops and presentations.
Friends, colleagues and my PLN:
This is by far the most valuable part of the GTA experience. Attending a GTA allows 50 educators to come together to learn a lot (imagine drinking from a firehose), share and compare information and not just about Google but also about education. Part of the experience is also the opportunity to build a very strong network of individuals that are willing to share anything they have with one another and when someone puts out a call for help, there are countless responses; this is the Google Certified Teacher (GCT) community. The community stretches beyond the borders of GCT’s to all their own PLN’s which builds a worldwide network of people that have similar passions: education and technology.
Opportunities and Experiences:
I have had several opportunities that have stemmed from GTA. One of which is the chance I had to be one of the Lead Learners at the GTA in San Antonio, TX, the first GTA specifically for administrators. What an honor to be in the company of such outstanding educators for a second time. The title of Lead Learner was certainly appropriate. I think I got almost the same amount of knowledge from this experience as my first GTA. Not to mention the chance to build my PLN with 50 more like-minded people.
Part of being a GCT is to go and spread the knowledge you have have gained from attending a GTA, your GTA action plan. This can be done by presenting at workshops or confrences; helping others one-on-one or through inservices; spreading information through papers, blogs and podcasts; or even by making how-to videos or worksheets.
Personally, I have been able to do several of these things to fulfill my action plan. First, a colleague from school and I succesfully migrated our entire staff from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps for Education, including three days of tech training for each staff member, one of which was a complete day on Gmail and another on Google Apps tools. Second, I have presented at several workshops and conferences on using Google tools and technology in education including at the ASCD confrence at the Google Apps booth. Third, I have produced how-to videos and posts that I published to my blog and along with Andrew Schwab (Blog), the Technology Director at our school, produced a podcast series entitled Small School Big Tech.
I have to say having the oppurtunity to be part of a GTA has been outstanding and the benefits have not slowed down. I highly recommend applying if you have the opportunity; the benefits far exceed your wildest expectations.