I’ll be honest – I don’t know the magic formula to get accepted to Google Teacher Academy. I don’t have the answers, nor do I know exactly how the 2014 Mountain View and Atlanta classes were evaluated. All I know is that I applied, I was accepted to Mountain View, and I am beyond honored, flattered and thrilled. It’s been two days since I found out I was accepted and I’m still over the moon.
With that being said, I’m going to write a little bit about the application process and how I think I got accepted. Again, I can’t pinpoint exactly what I did. But I can assure you it didn’t involve blackmail.
1. Leadership. I’ve been an instructional technology coach for the last 4 years (I was a classroom teacher for 5 years before this). In my coaching role I’ve been lucky enough to help lead 1:1 initiatives with Chromebooks and iPads, design and deliver workshops and present at conferences….amongst other things. It’s awesome to do this stuff, and as a coach it comes with the territory. I speculate that Google admires folks who put themselves out there and shares knowledge with other learners, which is obviously what any teacher does everyday. But I think my extra pushes to offer workshops and present at conferences helped my case.
2. Personality. I don’t like writing about myself, so I’ll try to keep this brief. At the risk of sounding like the ultimate horn-tooter, I consider myself a pretty funny guy. Others might not think so, but I give it my best effort! The bottom line is I’m a master of self-deprecation and don’t take myself too seriously. I like to have fun and make people laugh, but I can still get the job done at whatever professional task I’m doing (okay I’m starting to write about myself too much…I’ll try to stop the madness!). So when it came time to make my application video, I decided to showcase my personality and make my video funny (or, what I thought was funny). I was nervous because I had seen SO MANY awesome videos and mine is pretty unique, but it somehow worked. I figured the video would get me either laughed out of the program or laughed into the program. Thankfully it was the latter. (But trust me, when I read the application for the first time, did I think I’d make a video that would end with me making dinosaur noises in front of a green screen that was duct-taped to my office wall? Nope. The idea originated from me joking around with friends, saying how it’d be awesome to sublet a room in Mountain View/Atlanta for the summer to get in-region candidate preference. Why yes, Google, I live in Mountain View but commute daily to my job near Chicago. This (lame?) joke eventually blossomed into my actual video – true story!)
3. Honesty. One of the essay questions was writing about navigating hardships – and I did not get all buzz-wordy and write about education. Maybe others did, and maybe it worked – who knows? I wrote about what it’s like to have debilitating writer’s block and how I overcame it. Writing is a really important part of my life, and I wanted Google to get some insight into the “non-EdTech Jimmy” side of me. I imagine that Googly people are creative and innovate in all areas of their lives, and it was cool write a bit about my work-in-progress YA novel (shameless plug for Dear George Lucas – coming to bookstores in….uh…2016 I hope?) and my literary aspirations. Like my video, I was a little nervous about steering away from the more traditional path, but the Google planets aligned for me and it worked.
4. Experience. I spent some time touching up and updating my resume, making sure to highlight innovative projects, workshops and conferences. Again, I’m lucky to have been an instructional tech coach for 5 years, so I have a lot of experience. So if anyone is reading this that didn’t get in to GTA, keep building that resume! Lead some workshops in your district and go present at conferences! Besides it being fun and an awesome way to pay it forward with the spreading of knowledge and ideas, I think the more experience you have the better your chances are of being accepted to GTA. But again, I’m just speculating.
5. Become a Google Education Trainer. I’ve been a Google Education Trainer for a year. I don’t think this was make or break, but I think it helped.
So there you go – if you have any more questions, give me a shout. Cheers!