In my previous life, I worked as an auditor in a public accounting firm. One of the companies I audited was Telesat Canada. Now as an auditor, one very important aspect of the audit is to understand the background of the organization so that you’re better informed when looking at the financial statements. For some reason, the history of Telesat and the milestones of the company (i.e. satellite launches) really left an imprint on me. Perhaps because as a telecommunications company, launching a satellite is so significant that it’s like giving birth to a child. The event is memorable, and has significant impact on how the company progresses. Being able to reflect on these significant moments, celebrate the achievements and continue to forge ahead in the vision of the company is valuable.
Likewise, I think as an educator, recognizing and reflecting on milestones in our teaching career is important for our professional growth and development. Being able to see significant moments in our journey, helps to shape our vision moving forward.
As I reflect on my teaching milestones, several significant events come into mind: My first teaching position at Joyce Public School that helped me to realize the impact that a school can have on a community; Participating in the Multiliteracies Research Project with Dr. Heather Lotherington that helped me to discover the power of action research in the classroom; Using a SMARTboard for the first time in my class that launched me into my passion for educational technology; Moving 12,000km away from the familiarity of a great school community to realize that my perspective of the greater global community was so limited; and most recently, attending the Google Teacher Academy #MTV14 (now Google Innovation Academy) that exploded my PLN and conception of Professional Development.
As I write this blog post and reflect on my amazing journey as a teacher, I’m thinking, “All of you might not work at Joyce P.S., or be interested in a SMARTboard in your classroom anymore, or think of teaching overseas, but I sure hope all of you consider applying to and attending a Google Innovation Academy.”
It’s been a week since the freshly minted innovators from the first Google Innovator Academy graduated in Mountainview, California. I had the privilege of being a coach at the academy, but secretly felt like a participant myself, as I was swept away by the inspiration, encouragement, camaraderie and general AWESOME-ness of the event.
Being a part of the shaping of the academy in itself was a privilege, as the process was project based learning at its BEST. While the vision of the Innovation Academy was spearheaded by Project Managers Becky Evans, Mark Wagner, Wendy Gorton and our very own #Maplesyrupedu Michelle Armstrong, the shaping of the academy was extremely organic and involved the input of all of the coaches (Kevin Brookhouser, Monica Martinez, Mark Hammons, Jay Atwood, Danieta Morgan, and myself). The strengths and skills of all the leaders were considered and infused into the formation of Sparks & Sprints session throughout the academy. The innovators were encouraged to dream big MOONSHOT size dreams, to be BreakoutEdu creators, to connect deeply and collaborate with their Tribe, to dance with their fears, and to consider their Hedgehogs, Toasts and BigRocks when pursuing their innovation projects. And of course, dashes of Googley-ness was sprinkled throughout the academy to inspire and excite (e.g. X-The Moonshot Factory, Dan Russell, Google Expeditions). The coming-together of the event was AWE-inspiring. But the most exciting part is that this is #OnlytheBeginning. All newly graduated innovators will be working on their innovation project throughout the year, while supported by an experienced Google Innovator. The journey continues for our amazing new innovators. This is how ALL Professional Development should look like.
The next Innovation Academy date will be announced soon. If you are not yet a Google Certified Innovator, I hope you will consider applying. It has been a significant milestone for myself and many veteran Innovators, I know it will also be a significant milestone for you.