Riding the Wave to Google in Venice Beach

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 12.32.12 AM

I applied, and I waited.  The announcement was to come ‘the week of May 28th’ and I know I wasn’t alone in checking my inbox 40 times a day for the first few days of that week.  By Wednesday I decided to move on – it was a long shot, right?  Only 35 Google Certified Innovator spots for all of North America.  The youtube videos created by other applicants were inspiring and it was only my first time applying.  Chalk it up to experience.

Then my phone notifications went berserk.  First I had ten new twitter followers in a span of five minutes (“odd”), and then I looked a little more closely and saw that I was added to a Twitter list entitled “#LAX18 Innovators”.  I jumped on gmail and found the image above waiting for me.

Now, I get excitable.  I do.  But this was ridiculous.  My beautiful wife and kids were jumping up and down, and my phone was ringing.  The list of links and communications from Google was long and overwhelming and I knew that I had to book flights and lodging and all that good stuff, but it didn’t matter.  The relief!  I wasn’t even aware that I had put pressure upon myself, however that feeling of acceptance is unlike any other. Venice Beach, California.  I was invited.  I have something to offer.

I love that it’s 2018.  I made digital connections with the other 34 Innovators (all American except for me!) by night’s end and now have a completely new circle of influence to add to my already inspiring PLN.  Google Hangout Chats, twitter lists, email lists, Google Classroom, FlipGrid, Google Drive shared documents… very connected, very quickly.

Then it sank in.  The wonder.  The wondering.  “Why me?”.  The panic.  Imposter syndrome.  I simply want to look at celebrating teacher voices in a grass-roots, crowd-sourced PD model that works for time-strapped educators.  Is that Innovator-worthy? I’ve decided to tell myself ‘yes’ and MAKE it Innovator-worthy.  My idea was accepted, so my selected challenge must be resonating with others.  Are teachers sometimes feeling diminished or completely overwhelmed with the way PD is sometimes delivered?  Does one model of PD fit everyone’s learning style?  Is there differentiation in the access to PD?  How are new teachers coping with all the new learning?  These are questions worth digging into.

I feel like someone has been hiding horseshoes around my classroom.  I’ve had such good fortune this year.  Ministry action research.  A DREAM 1:1 iPad classroom.  Forest-school alternate-learning opportunities.  A career-sidestep into Instructional Coaching (starting this fall – I updated the blog header just now as I am ‘all systems go’ and simply can’t wait to being this role).  And now acceptance into this competitive program.  I feel like the stars have aligned – I have momentum and the hunger to make things happen.  I have met the most incredible colleagues in the last few years and I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants as I move forward with these new opportunities.

A bit about the Innovator Academy.  It’s 2.5 days of mentorship, coaching, moon-shot thinking, relationship building, and failing fast.  I hope to become emotionally detached from my project in the hopes that I can make decisions that work best for the project, not just for me.  We work in the Google Venice offices, get tours, feel the vibes, bond and pay it forward.  It’s truly an amazing opportunity.

…and I get to sleep here:

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 9.55.59 PM

…because there are very motivated people in my cohort.  I’m responsible for my own flights and lodging and an incredible new friend from the US booked this AirBnB for 16 (sixteen!!!) of us to stay in, within walking distance of Google and the ocean.  It is going to be our own version of MTV’s Real World – education style!  I know that I’ll meet some unique people here that could really have an impact on my approach to education.

As a cohort we design our own logo, t-shirts, and swag.  The #LAX18 hashtag will be something that will connect us as we move beyond the Innovator Academy and role out our transformational projects.

Riding the wave, indeed.  All year long.  This is literally sprinkles.  Sprinkles with a GREAT view.

My thank you card list is super long.  Time to get to work on that ; )