Saturday, November 30, 2013

I got accepted to the GTA!!!!

Last spring I applied for the Google Teacher Academy in Chicago.  I didn't make the cut, but right after I found out, I immediately began to think about how I could make my application better.  I wanted it to stand out.  So I started updating and making changes to the short answer questions.  I took the time to really reflect on my teaching.  When the applications are announced, there is only about three weeks to prepare, write, and create a video.  It is really hard to do all this in such a short time.  So I spent the summer really working on the application.  When the GTA applications for Stockholm and London were announced, I had already written a script for the one minute video and rewritten most of my answers.  

Here are the short answer questions from the GTA Sweden/UK application.  If you are planning on applying to the next Google Teacher Academy, start writing your responses now.  The questions may change a tiny bit, but it really helps to spend the time to think about your answers and your teaching practices.

  • Describe your role as a professional developer.   400 characters max
  • Describe your level of proficiency with Google Apps.    300 characters max
  • List three of your favorite NON-Google technology tools/products that you use on a regular basis. 
  • What inspired you to apply to the Google Teacher Academy?  800 characters max
  • Describe one of your favorite teaching moments. What made it so special for you and your students? 800 characters max
  • Describe an obstacle you encountered in your professional life and how you overcame it.  800 characters max
In the Chicago application, each question had a maximum word count.  For this application, Google had changed the responses to a maximum number of characters.  Be careful when checking your character count.  In Google Docs, you can check the character count, and character count including spaces.  Spaces count!

Another part of the application is the video.  You must create a one minute video on one of three topics.  
  • "Motivation and Learning" 
  • "Classroom Innovation" 
  • "Positive Change in My Community"
Here is the video that I created for the my first GTA application (Chicago).  I chose the topic Motivation and Learning.

When I started to work on writing the script for the second video, I wanted to be more creative.  My last name is Hero, which is the coolest last name ever!, so I thought I would compare teachers to being super hero's. Here is the first video I created for my GTA Sweden application.

When I completed the GTA Sweden application and video, I had some other teachers review my application.  A teacher who was helping me review my application recommended that I make my video stand out even more.  That it should either be funny or show an amazing student story.  He said that it was important that the reviewers get to know me, and that my video stands out from the rest.  It took me a few days to think of a new concept, but I decided to go for funny.  Originally, I wanted to make a song parody of "Holding Out for a Hero", but I was a little hesitant about copyright laws.  The teacher who was helping me recommended a song that was fair use, and it was perfect.  I asked for some volunteers in my AVID class to be actors in the story, and I filmed it the next day.  Here is my final application video.

Here are all of the application videos I could find for the educators accepted to #GTASWE 2013.  I think I am missing three videos because they were kept private on You Tube.

After finally completing my application, I still had a week until the deadline, but I waited to submit it.  After a few days, I thought of some additional things I could add to the application.  Don't rush to get your application in, because you never know if something else will come to you.

After the deadline, I only had two weeks to wait until the announcements came out.  On the day that CUE and the GTA were going to announce who was accepted, I was actually presenting at the Fall CUE conference in Napa, California for the first time.  I was extremely excited to be at the event and I was scheduled to present on using iMovie Trailers in the classroom for the first session that Friday morning.  I was a little nervous about presenting at my first CUE event but my session went amazingly well, and I had a full room of excited educators.  After my session ended, I wanted to drop off all of my extra tech supplies (I was a little over prepared).  I began walking out to my car and looked at the time on my phone.  An email notification popped up with the subject line "Google Teacher Academy - Stockholm 2013 Invitation" and the first lines were "Hi Melissa Hero, Congratulations!  You have been selected to participate..."  I had to stop what I was doing.  I thought I was reading it wrong.  It was so amazing!  I really had been accepted into the GTA!  I thought it was a complete long shot and I would be applying for years before I got accepted!  But I was going to Stockholm!  

Next week, I will be leaving for Stockholm.  I will spend a week there exploring the city, and spending two full days at the Google offices.  I am extremely excited and know that it will be a life changing experience.  I can't wait to meet my team (Team Hasselblad) and all of the other amazing educators in attendance.  This blog will allow me to document and share my experiences of this amazing opportunity.

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