Reflecting on my professional learning and development as an educator over the past year I can confidently say I achieved a lot in a short period of time.
In September of 2013, I attended the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Melbourne Summit. At this point in time I had no idea what the conference entailed or even what GAFE actually meant. I remember asking my eLearning Coordinator +Corey Aylen before the conference if I should have a Gmail account, he informed me that it would be quite beneficial, so I created myself an account.
I arrived at the conference, which took place during the holidays, with no expectations. It did not take long until I was totally blown away with what GAFE tools could achieve. I left feeling inspired and wanting to implement a range of GAFE tools I had discovered into my classroom to improve teaching and learning.
Returning to school in Term 4 of 2013, I begun immersing myself into the GAFE ecosystem. The students loved sharing and collaborating with others. The use of GAFE was literally transforming the culture of my class. I believed in these tools as they helped me design my lessons for contemporary learning to take place.
Seeing the benefits GAFE and a trial of Chromebooks was having on student learning and engagement, my school made the decision to deploy 1:1 Chromebooks in Year 6 for 2014. I was excited to support my school with the implementation of these tools.
I continued to learn and share my learning with others. While attending the Sydney GAFE summit in April 2014, I heard about the Google Educator exams educators could take to develop their understanding of the Google Tools. I was eager to learn more so I set myself the goal to complete these exams. This was a great way to further my knowledge and to reflect on what I already knew.
During the past year I have taken ownership of my Professional Learning. This has assisted me greatly to continue develop my practice using the online space of Twitter and Google+, and also by attending and presenting at GEG Melbourne and Teachmeet’s. I really do love learning and sharing ideas on teaching practice and tools that can be used innovatively in schools. I have been privileged to learn from some amazing educators. The passion that is in the room at these events always leaves me feeling inspired to continue what I am doing and to try new things to get the most out of my students.
In June, I was asked to present at the Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria (DLTV) conference on Genius Hour. Saying yes to present at a conference was nerve racking, I had presented at Teachmeets and GEG events for short periods of time, but a full 1 hour session was daunting. The nerves I felt leading up to my session soon subsided as I shared my story on how I implement Genius Hour in my class, something I do on a regular basis and am confident with. The feedback from the session was very humbling. This was a huge experience and stepping stone for me to continue to share my learning and teaching practice at other conferences.
After presenting at DLTV, +Kimberley Hall approached me and suggested that I should host the next GEG Melbourne event. I was very hesitant to begin with, but with a slight push in the right direction I was hosting GEG Melbourne “Back2School”. This event was to allow educators to come together and share how they were implementing the wonderful GAFE tools into their classroom to provide authentic learning experiences. It was at this event I really begun to feel confident in what I was presenting.
Shortly after hosting GEG Melbourne I was approached by +Michael Ha about an idea to create a monthly online web show called ‘TeachTechPlay’. TeachTechPlay was developed through the idea that many educators are wanting to learn from others but sometimes find it difficult to go to small events like GEG or Teachmeets. We wanted to connect with these educators and share with them ideas on tools they can implement into their classroom. Originally we were going to be happy if 10 people watched our show. We have now had over 600 views of our 1st Episode with great feedback. I have received emails from educators from places I have never heard of saying how it has inspired them to try new tools within their classroom. Educators are continually coming forward to be a part of the show to share what works for them in their classes. Our aim and vision has been met. We are continually reflecting and trying to improve the show and look forward to sharing many more tools and innovative practices with our audience in the future.
It was also around this time that I was approached and asked to present at the Melbourne GAFE summit. I suggested two presentations on Connected Classrooms and Google Docs in the Classroom. I felt this was a huge jump presenting two presentations, but yet again +Kimberley Hall gave me another push in the right direction, asking me to present a third session on Genius Hour as well. It was a busy two days but very rewarding to know that what I have learnt over the past year I have shared with others that were in the exact position I was in exactly one year earlier.
I was aware that the applications had opened for the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney. At this point in time I did not believe I was eligible to be accepted into their pristine group of educators. I spoke to various Google Certified Teachers that had already been through the process with them all encouraging me to apply as I had nothing to lose. The application process involves 2 parts, the written application and a 1 minute video. The hardest part, yet most rewarding, was thinking of an idea for the video application. My students thought it was great that I was applying and that they were a part of the process by being included in my video. It showed them that I am still learning and improving. Finding out that I had been accepted was a great honour. To share this experience other fantastic Melbourne educators that have all supported and guided me in my journey was fantastic. +Anthony Speranza,+Celia Cofa, +Riss Leung, +Corey Aylen, +Ross Halliday, +Michael Ha and +Aaron Davis. The GTA was an amazing experience and something that will continue to drive me to achieve great things in education.
I have mentioned a few educators in this post that have directly assisted me to become the educator I am today. I also need to thank every single person in my PLM on Twitter and Google+, the participants of Teachmeets and GEG events, each and every person sharing and learning together has helped me grow professionally and develop my practice.
This is all just the beginning. I now look forward to seeing what the next 12 months has installed for me.