#GTAATXAbout a month and a half ago, I posted about my goal to become a Google Certified Teacher and being accepted to the #GTAATX cohort. Now I sit here thoroughly, mentally, and physically exhausted after the most intensive two-day professional development experience of my life. And I am absolutely the richer for it. I have 51 amazing new friends who have quickly become “my tribe.” These outstanding educators and administrators exemplify what it means to be innovative, and they have welcomed me, the higher ed black sheep, into this inner sanctum, and inspire me to do more and be more as I work towards my moonshot idea on how to radically change the way we approach secondary education.

We share so many interests and passions, but each bring different perspectives, contexts, and talents. For example, the great feature image on this post was designed by the lovely and talented Kasey Bell from shakeuplearning.com and one of my tribe. We have classroom teachers at every level of education, coaches, school/district administrators, and state education officials.

In the past 48 hours, I have:

  • Re-focused my attention on how to approach design-based and project-based learning in grades 6-12.
  • Processed great feedback from teachers in the trenches on how to implement this approach.
  • Received affirmation that, albeit radical, there are teachers who would fully support this approach.
  • Played with smashups of various Google tools and add-ons that I can use with my classes.
  • Experimented with new and not-so-new data visualization tools.
  • Reminded myself of better ways to approach certain topics in my classes.
  • Drafted new strategies for both my undergraduate and graduate courses.
  • Re-assessed how to change the way I provide weekly overviews for my online students.

This doesn’t even begin to get at the great tidbits and previews of Google products to come or the backstage pass we had of the Google Austin offices (seriously, I’m gonna need a cowhide chaise lounge in my office one day). Whether it was a great keynote from Edward Doan or a specially arranged Hangout to explore Google Classroom under the hood, our Lead Learners prepared a fantastic agenda for us.

Outside of our prescribed sessions, I have formed close bonds with a handful of my cohort members, and we have plans to present together or tackle creating a Google Educator Group together. Whether it’s figuring out how to engage parents in learning strategy selection, starting up a new school, or establishing a global professional network to share failures, we are a tribe who will hold one another accountable for our project ideas and be there to support each other as we face challenges, fail forward, and succeed.

I may have had to re-arrange my schedule and adjust my travel plans for the year, but to say that it was worth it is a significant understatement. I am heading home with a head full of ideas and a heart full of love.