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August 16, 2011 / JaymeJ

1 Summer, 2 Workshops, 33 Hours

This summer I have had the amazing opportunity to attend two amazing workshops. First up, Google Teacher Academy, Washington.

For GTAWA, I traveled to my all time favorite city — Seattle. While I didn’t get to spend enough time there, I did manage to get to the top of the Space Needle my first evening there, having some great conversation with Bob Madden along the way. Of course, I had to take the cheesy “tourist picture” as we walked in…just to prove I was there. (Before I begin my “reflection” I must point out that Bob nailed the essence of GTAWA in his blog post “Its the people, stupid.”)

The real fun began the next day – a 12 hour Google-fest! This was the 12th GTA, and the first held in Seattle. While I can’t even begin to mention every idea we learned, I did try to keep an hour by hour list of “takeaways.” Of course, by hour 7 that idea flew imploded. Along with all the google-fied information. There was food, food, and did I mention, food? Oh, and a tour of the amazing Google Seattle offices. One tour stop, the view outside the Google Seattle Dining Hall – Lake Washington, a beautiful bike path, and a drawbridge. Oh, and Googlers can check out kayaks AND there is beer on tap!

Workshop two was the first ever SummerAdminCore in San Francisco- two participants from each school (the head of school and a the technology director) coming together for 21 hours on the topic of leadership, technology, and learning. Since this was the inaugural offering, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into day one. The schedule alone was daunting…Day one, a “half-day” from Noon to 9pm and day two, a “full-day” from 9am to 9pm. I was tired just THINKING about the schedule.

Our SAC journey was led by Steve Bergen who, in my best attempt to describe in words, is equal parts entertainment, inspiration, and Energizer bunny. His passion for Larry Bird, binary code, and the #33 led to many unexpected learning experiences.  The workshop was framed with an hour by hour format, each with a topic to examine, a PTI (pardon the interruption – a random website that we should know about), and a hands-on exercise (wordle, voki, fact hunt, tumblr, google docs, epubs, etc.). The goal, at the end of our time together, was that each school would come away with a plan of action and a more focused vision for their school.

While our group was small – 6 participants from 3 schools – the conversation was lively and thought provoking. While I wish there had been another elementary school participating (the other two schools were Catholic high schools), Steve arranged for a number of Skype sessions with technology integrators, many of which were working at the K-8 level. Our Skype conversations focused on professional development models, technology integration setups, and their “Golden Ticket”…what really worked in regards to technology in their school.

What was most valuable was the time to sit with my head of school and just talk – discussing how we see technology helping shape our school, brainstorming about improvements we can make, planning a course of action to improve our utilization of technology to best assist the learning of both our teachers and our students. We left with a list of small changes to implement now, larger topics to discuss with the rest of the admin team, and new ideas to enhance and extend our current professional development programs.

Here is our “Action Plan” video summary:

Phew! Deep Breath!

33 Hours (Yes, Steve, that’s a nod to you!)

2 Workshops

1 Amazing Summer

And I’m Still Learning…

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