Reflections on GTAATX 2014

When I came home from the Google Teacher Academy in Austin last week, I was exhausted, but in a good way. I wanted to write a reflection, but I also wanted to let the experience simmer a bit so that I would write one that was not influenced by the “high” that was GTA.

Today, I read posts from fellow GTAATX folks, including a very thoughtful and honest one from Karl Lindgren-Streicher and a data-filled one that made my science heart leap by Matt Vaudrey. Although the latter made me a bit sad since the data doesn’t lie and the data says I was one of the two oldest people in the room, both of the posts gave me the opportunity to reflect almost a week after the first day of the event. What the reflection revealed to me is the topic of this post.

GTAATX crew

Photo by Danny Silva

I agree with Karl that the Academy was an awesome experience that could have been even more awesome. I was energized and encouraged by a fantastic group of educators who, like me, believe that together, educators can truly change the world. I also felt sad that we didn’t get more time to plan and develop the strategies that will begin the transformation. Although the sessions were helpful in their own right, I found my mind wandering back to my project and the work I was anxious to get started.

My inner science and sociology geek absolutely loved the session from Chris Aviles (@techedupteacher) where he shared several resources that provide all the data needed to get conversations started in nearly any content area. Data that is relevant to students because it has been gathered through Google and social media outlets.

I loved the information Amy Mayer (@friEdtechnology) provided and her down-to-earth style of discussion. It was also really cool that for the first time ever, a Google Teacher Academy included a student of hers!

The problem-solving and design parts of the Academy were the most beneficial. Not only did I have the opportunity to sort through and begin working on my own project, I got valuable feedback from the minds in the room. It was also a great way to learn parts of the Google design process, which I will find useful in my experience as a presenter and coach.

I won’t go into details about the tools I learned about – you can check out the GTAATX hashtag to see all the things that were shared over the two days. The Google training team did a great job – tweaking the sessions to meet our needs and they were super receptive to feedback with a strong desire to improve future academies.

I am so thankful I was a part of the experience and I hope that I will be able to continue the momentum!

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