Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jumping into GAFE - Advice from a Newbie

By @SylviaDuckworth

Sylvia Duckworth is a French teacher in Toronto, Canada.  She is a Google Certified Teacher

Two years ago I was honoured to be invited to the Google Teacher’s Academy (GTAMTV12) at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California. I was a relatively new user of Google Apps and shortly after the event began, I had the overwhelming feeling of being in way over-my-head. I was surrounded with Google Ninjas educators from all over the world: What was I doing there?!! It was an exhilarating yet humbling experience as I shuffled my way from session to session. At the end of the two day Academy, my head was spinning and I could barely digest all the information that was thrown my way. I didn’t know where or how to begin my GAFE journey.

On my return home, I started to slowly integrate the things I learned, trying one thing at a time. Fortunately, my school had already launched GAFE (Google Apps for Education) for all teachers and students, so the infrastructure was already in place for me to get Googley.

The five ways I jumped in:
  1. I joined many GAFE Google+ communities online.
  2. I devoured GAFE-related posts and tweets (#GAFEsummit) 
  3. I participated as much as I could in social media with other GAFE educators. 
  4. I attended more EdTechTeam GAFEsummits because I discovered that with Google, the learning never ends. 
  5. Eventually I mustered the courage to present at a local GAFEsummit and I even participated in a Demo Slam (gulp)!

This year my school purchased 60 Chromebooks for our students and everyone is well on their way to becoming very comfortable using GAFE. 

                               Indeed, the prevalent feeling around our school now is
                                   “How did we live without Google Apps?” 

For me and for many of my colleagues, the GAFE experience has been transformative. Incidentally, our students are becoming experts too, constantly showing us how to do cool things on their devices!

My advice to all GAFE newbies is: “Baby steps”. Try something new as often as you can and celebrate your successes and newly gained expertise as you move along your journey. If you experience a setback remember that FAIL means “First Attempt in Learning”. Do not compare yourself to other educators more experienced with GAFE. Instead, reach out to them and to other members of the vast GAFE community when you need help. Always keep in mind that "The only person you need to compare yourself with is who you were yesterday." (Rushton Hurley, Montreal GAFEsummit, 2014)

Special thanks to Sylvia Duckworth

She lives and works in Canada and was a member of the Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View 2012

Please click here for some ideas on how you can use GAFE in the Foreign Language Class.

To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.


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