Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Google Certified Innovator Experience Part 3: The Sydney Cohort and Tattoos




Now that I could breathe after nearly losing my phone and wallet in a foreign land, the Google Innovator Academy experience took me by storm. The vibe of the cohort was infectious. The energy was amazing. It was so cool to finally put faces to the names I had seen popping up in the cohort Google Hangout for a month. 

One of our first activities was to build a chair. The first person, other than Stuart Kelly, I really met was Gareth Haddon. We met in the first round of the design a chair with aluminum foil activity. After our conversation, his chair won. It was clearly better than mine, but in round two we had to go with the other team. In the end, it was Geoff Derry's "Volcano Chair" that won the day. 




The build a chair with aluminum foil activity is something I have taken to heart. My district has placed huge emphasis on Academic Conversations. With that in mind, I took this activity and morphed it into an Academic Conversation activity incorporating hashtags for kids to make content to real life connections. 

Being part of an international cohort, from my perspective at least, was such an eye-opening experience. Seeing the ideas, needs, struggles and questions from educators across Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia gave me a whole new perspective on the learning needs of teachers and students beyond the US. 

The Design Thinking process was a powerful new learning experience. I had heard so much about it from my Innovator friends, but seeing it live from Les McBeth was a different story. I loved the slogan "Fall in love with the problem, not the solution." Learning to tear my project apart into small bits was enlightening. It allowed me to find flaws in parts of my project that I didn't realize existed. 


Design Thinking is something I have been trying to implement in the classroom since Sydney. One of the Design Thinking strategies I have employed is Crazy 8s. We did Crazy 8s as a method of ideation. I found my students absolutely love this activity. I use it as a method of introducing new concepts to students. 

My team, Judoknow, started slowly, but eventually demonstrated a lot of spirit. If you're wondering what that name means, it is a play on words from Mexican-American culture. The amazing Kiwi Justine Driver was our coach. Since the Academy, she has maintained contact and continued to keep our vibe alive because "ju" don't know what we gonna say, "ju" don't know what we gonna do, "ju" just don't know!

Each morning, I had the privilege of hanging out at the amazing Banquerie located in Sydney's Pyrmont. The meat pies were too die for. The coffee wasn't bad either. What made the Banquerie memorable was the ambiance and the company. This establishment was an old bank. The vault was where the oven was located. Did I say the pies where amazing? They were. Each morning cohort mates Adam Brooks, Monica Limmer, Becky Shorey and Judy Blakeney would meet me there for breakfast. The food at Google was great, but the Banquerie became our thing.

Dinner on the second night was a blast. After a long day of learning, collaboration and feedback, we were treated to some amazing Dim Sum, massages, a magic show and karaoke. I have to toot my horn a bit. I did get the karaoke party started. Wendy Gorton and I did duet for "Baby Got Back". Afterwards, I grabbed the mic and dominated LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out." From there, karaoke was in full swing including a large group of us belting out "Bohemian Rhapsody."

 

As the Academy wound down, we we're given resources to begin with the Google mentor choosing process. Luckily for me, I was blessed to have been paired with good friend Crystal Lane Miller. Crystal and I have been regularly communicated via Gmail, Hangouts and Twitter. Her advice has been tremendous and she's been advocating for me. 


Graduation day was a blast. My tour guide Suan gave a wonderful tour of Google HQ. I was totally digging the couch in the wall. The graduation ceremony was live streamed on YouTube. A professional sketchnoter was brought in to sketchnote the ceremony as well. They saved our team for last. They did get our walk up music mixed up, but it did give us one last chance to do our infamous "Judoknow" chant. When it was all over, the champagne was flowing and I made sure I took a selfie with everyone from the cohort. Each selfie is posted on a MyMap currently on my website homepage. 




After saying goodbye to the coaches and cohort mates, my soulmate Katherine, from #TOR16, and I had an adventure exiting the building. When we finally found a door to the outside world and exited, an alarm went off. We just ran! When we caught our collective breath, we Ubered across town to Venomous INK Tattoo. Now that I had joined Katherine among the ranks of Google Certified Innovators, we decided to get the ultimate souvenir. We got matching Google Innovator lightbulb logos tattooed on our right forearms. For Katherine, it was her first, but my fifth tattoo. The artist took pictures of her work, but we reminded her, these tattoos don't go for just anyone. We jokingly told her if someone wants this tattoo, they have to show their Innovator credentials first. 

We posted some pictures in the #SYD17 Hangout and many couldn't believe it. Mark Wagner said he had to see it himself. When we finished we met up with Mark and the coaches to show off our tattoos. The looks of shock were priceless. 


The opportunity to work with, learn from and connect with so many innovative educators has given me a new perspective on my profession. Design Thinking and the feedback received on my project was eye opening. My project, the onion on steroids it is, is definitely a moonshot. Going forward, after Sydney, I learned to focus on one small part at a time. If I am going succeed, I can't try and do it all at once.  Looking back, the Google Innovator Academy experience in Sydney is something I will never forget and I will continue to grow as a result.












31 comments:

  1. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Nice recap. You know, I was there at the Banquerie every morning with you too goof ball!

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  2. Being with you all was a real blast... vive la Banquerie

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  3. Great post, I loved (and still do) your energy, who gets to go around to each innovator and take a Selfie.

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