To Apply or Not Apply? The Google Teacher Academy Application process

A year ago if you asked me what the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) was, I would have had no idea. Now, I am a fully fledged Google Certified Teacher (GCT). So how exactly did I make this jump?

Like many teachers, I am fairly active on Twitter and more recently, Google+ Communities.  Mention of the GTA first appeared through these mediums.

So what exactly is the GTA? This is from the website:

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Meeting with 50 other awesome educators eh? Creating a strong professional community of educators who support each other eh? This sounded more than awesome! However, I saw this:

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I proceeded to look at the training on the website and information for sitting the Google exams and then felt daunted. It would take me weeks and weeks to watch the videos and study up. Oh and the exams cost about $60 (and you only have a set period of time to take these exams as well). I thought to myself, okay maybe I can do this.

When I saw that the application to the GTA required me to not only submit a written application, but a public 1 minute video that would be submitted to Youtube (yes, for the whole world to see!) I was like, forget it! No free professional development, no matter how awesome, is worth humiliating myself!

However, two main things in 2014 made me change my mind. Firstly, I began to use a great deal more Google tools. Google Docs, Sheets, Forms and Slides are amazing inventions. Some of the great features of these tools are no need to save, up to 50 collaborators on the one document and huge cloud storage are just some of the perks. I suppose it is accurate to say I was seeing how valuable Google tools were becoming in my classroom and was more than a little excited about seeing the Australian Headquarters. Secondly, I have a classroom blog for my Year 2 students and by pure coincidence, another Year 2 teacher (Kate Cooper) came across this blog and started to reply to my class. As teachers, we started to email one another and met up in person at a Google Educators Group meetup. She told me how she was applying to the GTA and I thought to myself if such fantastic educators are applying, what do I have to lose?

Thus began my application to the GTA. Google certainly doesn’t make it easy to be a GCT. Whilst the application process involved both a written and video submission, I don’t know their exact weighting. I am by no means an expert on the process but these are some of the things I think helped me get a spot:

  • Be proud of your student learning achievements. You are in this profession to help your students. Show how you have helped them. Show how you have motivated them. Show how you have facilitated meaningful learning experiences. Show how you have used technology as a tool to empower students.

  • Be proud of your learning. Show the extra professional development you engage in. Do you attend Teach Meets, engage in Twitter chats or attend and present at conferences? Put that in. Applying for the GTA demonstrates a real passion for learning.

  • Be sincere. You don’t have to show how awesome Google tools are. For me, applying to the GTA was not about talking up Google or reiterating how I use Google in the classroom. In fact, I didn’t mention Google at all in my application video.

  • Use Google’s tools. I feel that there needs to be at least some awareness of Google’s products.

Unlike some of the other blog posts on the GTA that recommend you read up about it or give you tips about making the video, I didn’t heed this advice. Partly because I didn’t have time and partly because I didn’t want to feel more overwhelmed than I already was. It was only after I submitted my application, I looked at the calibre of applicants’ videos and read up on people’s experiences of the GTA (which then proceeded to freak me out as the quality of applications was staggering).

At the end of the day, I was very lucky to be accepted on my first attempt. There were many teachers out there who were more experienced, more innovative and more creative than me who missed out. I heard from some amazing educators that they had applied twice and been accepted on their third attempt.

So my last tip is apply and just go for it! And as the saying goes: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”