It was about this time last year I was heavily reflecting on where my life was going and what I wanted to do. My work within the school district was good, but I knew I was capable of more and could make a bigger difference in education. I applied to the Google Innovator program twice before and was working toward a third application. This application was different. I had spent that first half of 2017 developing myself both physically and mentally. My daily workout and my increased consumption of books, had me applying with a completely different mindset.
News of my acceptance into the Google Innovator Academy came while I was strapped to the decompression table at the Chiropractor’s office. This was not my goal when I decided to increase my physical activity, however, I had never felt better. With my phone out of reach and not another soul in the room, I only had the notification on my watch showing a new email from the Google Innovator Program and the word “Congratulations!” I rushed home to print the contents of the email to surprise my wife. When I shared my news, she was overcome with emotion and I knew that I was holding an important key in fulfilling my desire to make a bigger difference. That day-that moment- was the best birthday I have ever had.
Now I sit here six months after my Google Innovator experience reflecting on what has changed. When asked about my experience I usually sum it up as “life-changing.” More specifically, it instilled in me an incredible amount of confidence. As my academy coach, Carlos Galvez, put it, “You’ve been handed the keys to a brand new rocket, don’t just let it sit out there in the parking lot. Get out and fly it.”
My new-found confidence unlocked some upgrades to my rocket. I was no longer hesitating to share my ideas and before I knew it I found myself coaching 48 new EdTech coaches within the district and going into the classroom to teach one of my passions: Design Thinking. I am also excited to be facilitating the first ever Young Innovator Camp (powered by Future Design School) in our district this summer and guiding a school outside of the district in establishing a culture of innovation. I am also leading small groups within the district through the design process in an effort to find innovative solutions to challenges that range from ways to create a better learning experience within a junior high to prototyping ways to reduce chronic absenteeism. These upgrades have helped fuel the development of my Google Innovator project.
I am passionate about finding ways to address the increasingly widespread teacher shortage. My project challenge statement is, “How might we inspire today’s teachers to remain teachers and today’s students to become tomorrow’s teachers?” Taking the momentum from some of my new opportunities as well as from the constant flow of inspiration from the rest of the #SWE17 cohort, I knew it was time to stretch the possibilities and to push the limits of my rocket.
The hardest part was pressing the launch button on my project, but the thrill of the launch soon took over and I was hooked! The first phase of my project was off the ground and I was planning to test the EdTrex Explorer program at SXSWEDU. The mission of the explorers was to bring insight, resources, and powerful moments to those teachers who couldn’t be there. With over 600k impressions to over 350k users via Twitter alone, I was convinced I was heading in the right direction. I have since iterated on this phase and have begun to make the Explorer program replicable for others and I am excited to test it further at ISTE 2018. An unplanned part of my project has also launched in the form of the EdTrex Podcast. The more exciting second and third phases of my project will be launched soon. My confidence and participation in the Google Innovator program has also led to numerous presentation and speaking opportunities throughout North America.
Much has changed for me and many of the other innovators in my cohort over the past six months as a result of what I would call “Innovator Confidence.” There is no reason things can’t change for you too! We need more rocket pilots to fly all those rockets just sitting in the parking lot. We need more Google Innovators to take on the challenge of making a difference in education. We need you to step out of your comfort zone and to discover your Innovator Confidence. What are you waiting for? Put yourself out there, fill out your application, and press the launch button. I can’t wait to fly with you!
Google Certified Innovator
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