As I sat in the Houston airport waiting for my flight back to Newark, I couldn’t help but to sit and reflect on my experience at the first ever Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. The conference was held on March 5, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. This was by far the most intense, and rewarding professional development venture that I have ever been a part of. Brought together by innovative practices, and a desire to integrate Google educational tools with sound pedagogy. I joined with 50 other exemplary administrators all on a journey that took our learning to levels not readily imagined; hence my analogy to “Lighting in a bottle.”
As I mentioned before, the day was INTENSE, which was right in my wheelhouse as a concrete sequential learner. Each session moved seamlessly from one to the next within an eleven-hour time span. During the session, I readily observed one of the most important attributes of an effective administrator – MULTITASKING. This was visible in the form of simultaneously listening, taking notes while utilizing Google Docs, engaging in a Twitter backchannel, and of course, the sharing of ideas on how we as administrators could effectively and efficiently use the array of Google tools.
The fact that backchanneling was encouraged was cool in itself! Anyone reading the tweets from #GTAdmin could feel the excitement, I am sure. I found it particularly challenging at times to tweet what I felt was compelling information, due to the fear that I would miss something during the process. That’s how good the Google Academy was; “Riveting,” is the word that immediately comes to my mind.
The atmosphere in the room was similar to Christmas where we as educational administrators were receiving all of the gifts stipulated on our lists to Santa Claus. Who doesn’t appreciate FREE educational gifts (I know all of us involved with web 2.0 and technology do)? The energy in the room never dissipated as we learned how these gifts of knowledge could be used to establish collaborative, engaging, and transparent learning environments in our respective schools. You can view my notes for #GTAdmin by visiting GTAdmin Notes 3-5-10
My notes give a pretty good snapshot of our action-packed day. However, another important take-away here was the presenters, or lead learners as Dr. Mark Wagner referred to them as. Each lead learner facilitated passionate discussions on virtually every Google app that could be used in education. They were extremely prepared, modeled effective practices, and applied the tools in a way that we as administrators could use them. This Academy really was catered to and designed for administrators. Each presenter’s dedication to ensuring that we fully understood how to implement the various Google tools was greatly appreciated by all. At the conclusion of the day I was still craving more. How many of us could honestly say that after a 3 hour professional development training, let alone 11 hours? In a nutshell the blueprint developed for #GTAdmin was fantastic.
Learning did not stop for one minute at the academy. In my opening paragraph I made mention to the educational leaders that I was fortunate enough to spend the day with. Whether it was at dinner, the night before, during breaks, at meals, or late into the night after the academy, conversations on what we had learned and how we were going to utilize this, “Lightning in a bottle,” that was graciously handed to us never ceased. Talk about bang for my buck! The additional knowledge and insight that I acquired from my esteemed peers was priceless in itself. Many of our conversations focused on which specific Google Apps we were going to implement first and how. Administrators committed to change through innovation, collaboration, sustainability, and transparency were definitely underlying themes and catalysts for the intriguing discussions that took place.
I could go on and on about this experience, but I am just too exhausted and should probably get a nap in before I land. My goal now is to return to my school and empower my staff to engage all learners, collaborate with each other, and take a more active role in the educational process using Google Apps for Education. This experience, combined with my Personal Learning Network (PLN) serve as driving forces to provide the very best learning opportunities for the students and staff of New Milford High School. Who knows, maybe now I will start an official blog using Google Blogger? Wait, I just did. I can’t wait to unleash this lightning in a bottle!