When I found out that I had been accepted into the Google Teacher Academy – Sydney (#gtasyd) I was in the middle of hosting a Google Hangout with seven different classes from all over Australia. We had been doing some ‘virtual’ team-teaching and, whilst a You-Tube clip was playing, I snuck a look at the emails on my phone. It was with great joy that I discovered that I had been selected to take part in this awesome event. Unfortunately, I had to keep my cool and continue unfazed as I spoke to the 250 students on the other end of my computer screen.
Not long after that I was further buoyed with the knowledge that the 3 other #aussieED team members who applied were also accepted. I was excited to know that Maggie, Kim and Rob would be there to share the awesome experience with.
But…. what was I excited for?… what was in stall?…. Would the reality live up to my imaginary world where I would be reliving a personalised version of the film, ‘The Internship’, where the #aussieED gang would be on my team…..”What?”
The obvious truth is that what went on in our NoTosh stylised ‘Design Thinking’ GTA (Google Teacher Academy) was very different to what I expected.
So what were my take aways? What did I do, and what did I leave with?
I’ve decided to list my top 3 take-aways.
Moonshot thinking stems right back to the early sixties when J.F.K challenged the young organisation NASA to land a man on the moon in under 10 years (they did it in 7). This was a ‘giant leap’ (pardon the pun) from where the NASA program was at the time and it required major rethinking, reworking and redesigning to fulfill his dream. But they did it. Our moonshots are individualised dreams that are scaled to us personally but are huge, daunting, challenging but have to ability to change our world if/when they come off!
The cool thing about the moonshot thinking is that it is in itself a great model of quality pedagogy. It is not about playing with a shiny new tech tool, or downloading the latest app. It is about a teacher ‘mindshift’. Asking teachers to do the same things that quality educators challenge their students to do all of the time. To think big, thing deeply, analyse the data, find your passion and work bloody hard to make it happen.
To be inspired and to better understand moonshot thinking check out the 3 min clip at the end of this post.
How often do you get to meet 50 teachers of such high quality, passion and drive? The very nature of the selection process for GTA means that those teachers around you are the big thinkers with the burning desire to meet and collaborate. They are the type of people who inspire those around them. They are not the ‘blockers’, they are the problem solvers. You feel better just by being in a room with these people. Their positivity rubs off on you. This is not to say in any way that there aren’t a plethora of other teachers out there who have the same effect and skillset but it was awesome to be surrounded by such an enthusiastic and supportive bunch!
3. The googliness buzz
There is no denying that part of the allure of the GTA is getting to sneak a peek behind the secret curtain that is Google. Munching on the endless supply of snacks, having lunch in swish offices with beautiful vistas and playing video games at the end of the day is cool. So too are the gadgets, gift bags and even the silly putty. Who doesn’t like free stuff? The real magic of Google though isn’t the tech resources, it’s the human resources. Amazing Googlers like Suan Yeo are there. They bring a real joy to their work. They are walking proof that Google’s real strength lies in thinking, not in fancy tech.
The other layer of the googliness buzz is the strength of the mentor team which for us was managed under the umbrella of the NoTosh Design Thinking concept. Huge shout outs to Tom Barrett and Hamish Curry. Also to Chris Betcher, who I loved connecting and chatting with. On a personal note I really want to thank, and acknowledge, Kimberley Hall. She is an amazingly talented person who, despite having such an extensive skillset in her own repertoire, was willing to patiently sit and support my brainstorming as I worked through my ever evolving moonshot.
Thanks for the memories and inspiration. Now for the real challenge as we all launch our moonshot ideas.