Going to the GTA!

One of my unwritten goals for the past year has been to make it into the Google Teacher Academy.  I missed the December deadline for NYC because I chickened out at the last minute over making my one minute video.  When the application opened this spring for Mountain View (Google HQ!) I knew I couldn’t wait another year.

To be honest, it was one of the most stressful things I have ever done, probably because I wanted it so badly.  Not only was the application stressful, but the day I knew I would be receiving my email of acceptance (or denial, but I was staying positive) was horrible.  I must checked my email at least 100 times even though my phone would have alerted me to the received message.  Everything stopped in my life whenever my pocket vibrated thinking that this could be it.

  • At about 4pm, the email telling me I was accepted arrived and I literally jumped up and down and started screaming.  Luckily I was alone in the school cafeteria waiting for my Relay For Life meeting to start so it wasn’t that embarrassing.  I wanted to share two things I learned from this experience.Make sure you read the directions!!  I was asked to answer 2 questions.  One on hardships that I have faced and how I overcame them.  The other on why I wanted to attend the GTA.  I read the question and noticed that underneath it said ‘Maximum 800 words.”  I remember thinking ‘wow, there are at least 1000 people going to apply and they are going to read all of these essays in a week.  That’s impressive!’  So I wrote out this page and half essay and when I was finally ready, pasted the text into the box on the Google form.  That’s when the little red error popped up and said “800 characters exceeded.”  You read that right:  CHARACTERS not WORDS.  I had to take an essay that was nearly 800 words (779 to be exact) and turn it into 800 characters including spaces!  On the day it was due!  While I was teaching classes!!  Here is my submission as to why I wanted to attend the GTA:

School needs to be transformed; GTA will lead to this. I long to be part of something transformative, something cutting edge, something elite, to be part of a community of educators redesigning education; the concept of GTA excites & energizes me. As a GCT, I will draw on connections to the people most passionate about achieving the best for students while I do the same for mine. I am excited about the opportunity to work closely with like-minded educators innovating, shaking up the system, daring to fail. Every teacher should be fighting for a chance to attend a GTA. I’m geeking out about the opportunity to just apply, that I stand a chance of getting to explore the Google offices & get to talk about the great things other excited educators are doing! Plus, I hear the food is awesome.

  • You need to create a one minute video about how you are innovating education and having an impact in your school.  A couple of students and I had worked on a project for the White House Film festival a few months ago so I tapped their talents to help me again.  We found clips I had recorded from various activities, filmed a short intro, and edited over the course of a couple of hours in the video production lab.  One of the students is very talented with Garage Band so while 2 of us were editing clips (and dealing with my OCD/perfectionist tendencies), he was creating an original score for the piece.  It is not the best video that I have seen submitted, but we were pretty proud of it when we were done.  Below is my video submission.
The students in the video were so embarrassed at first, but then were showing their friends that they made it in the video.  People from all over the world were seeing it and that gave them a sense of pride.  Plus my son loved being there at the end.
I think my biggest takeaway and best advice for anyone thinking of applying is to just go for it.  I panicked at the first one because I felt I wasn’t good enough.  But afterwards, and after watching a colleague get in, I realized I was selling myself short.  We all do awesome things in our classrooms.  We need to be positive and promote that.  Sell the the awesome however and wherever we can.  

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