Monday, January 23, 2017

Donor's Choose and Inspire

I don’t know but I’ve been told,
Google Bootcamp is something to behold!

I don’t know but I’ve heard it said,
Donor’s Choose helps you get ahead!
Searching and knowing there exists methods to accomplish tasks, reach students, engage students, streamline instruction, and provide timely, effective feedback as a 21st Century educator, I found myself staring at the computer screen with the sought after answer right in front of me……Google Certification!! Scrolling and reading as fast as I could, I found what I was looking for and what my students needed, right there outlined by the Google EdTechTeam  - “Level 1 is perfect for the educator who would like to learn how to integrate technology into the classroom.”  Yes sir, that’s ME! Where do I enlist?
I begin to register but realize that I may not be able to afford Bootcamp at this time. My heart sinks. However, I am an optimist, a rolling stone and a believer in fulfilling your dreams. I thought, well I could ask family and friends for a loan but it is difficult for me to ask for anything for myself. If I am asking for my students, well then I have no shame and I am right out there with it. But wait, this IS for my students! This will benefit not only my current students but also all of my future students. Yes! Yes!! But how can I make this happen?

I turned to Donor’s Choose an organization started by David Best a high school teacher who very well understands the financial predicaments and frustrations teachers feel year after year, when all we want is what’s best for education. Carefully following the easy steps outlined by Donor’s Choose I post than share my project, and eagerly await good news. Discouragingly at first donations were slow, well there weren’t any actually. Then, one small donation and another small donation trickled in but time was running out.  I was becoming a little disenchanted at the possibility of not attending Google Bootcamp. Until two days before my deadline when I received an email from Donor’s Choose…………

It turned out that as the clock was ticking one amazing human, to whom I am eternally grateful, generously donated the remainder of what was needed to fully fund my Google Bootcamp Level 1!

And so it was on the morning of January 21, 2017 I set off for Newington, CT (90 mins away) to become a student and a Google Bootcamp participant. I have never jumped out of bed at 5:30 am on a Saturday with such excitement!!! Yet, I was a little nervous that I was not knowledgeable or tech savvy enough to make it through Level 1 - let alone the ultimate goal I had set for myself of Google Certified Innovator!! Yes I want to go all the way!! But am I facing a reality that I may not be able to do this zoomed around my head for the first hour in the car. I mean it’s GOOGLE, which I am madly in love with and can’t get enough of, complete with day dreams of visiting the headquarters in Mountain View, Irvine and NYC. Any time anything GOOGLE is mentioned my friends look at me waiting for the squeal. I think, will I let my students down, will I let my friends down, will I let myself down, will I let GOOGLE down? Stop! Deep breath!! I have arrived at Newington High School.

I don’t think it took more than 10 seconds to feel welcomed, at ease and reassured by my trainer Jesse Lubinsky and his assistant Jay Salerno!  Jesse’s  enthusiasm, knowledge and clear love of what he does shattered any apprehension or self doubt I was harboring. I got myself settled, wifi check, coffee, EdTech notebook, pen and ZOOM……. I was launched into THE  fastest 7 hours I have ever spent totally engaged, learning and grateful for every single minute. The added bonus was learning that my fellow comrades at Bootcamp had varying degrees of expertise and knowledge which made for the best learning environment. Throughout  the day we had meaningful discussions, supported each other, shared stories, exchanged contact information, and generally felt a sense of accomplishment and joy at what we set out to do as educators. Oh! And have I mentioned what we learned?  

Drive & Docs, Forms & Spreadsheets, Chrome, Gmail, YouTube, Classroom, Groups, and more!! Seven hours of inspiring, useful, necessary content rolled out in a way which was most effective - hands on!           
Comrades -

I walked away knowledgeable, empowered and excited knowing that I have within me the tools needed to start supporting my students immediately using GAFE tools. And if that wasn’t reason enough to be floating on cloud 9, within the next few weeks I will successfully take the Level 1 Exam! But that will not be the end for me and Google. My intention is to go all the way and as long as Google will have me. Google Certified Innovator is in my future!

Teachers, please know that if  you have the drive and desire to provide a 21st Century Education for your students but your district will not fund your professional development efforts, you have a friend in education and it’s Donor’s Choose! Don’t hesitate for a minute to reach out to them for financial support for  your PD efforts! Donor’s Choose asks for very little in return. They ask for thanks! That’s all, just thanks! If not for them I would not have been able to participate this weekend. And so it is with enormous gratitude to both the Google EdTechTeam and Donor’s Choose that I write this blog post in hopes that it inspires more educators to turn to both institutions to further their dedication to 21st Century Education! And if you don’t believe me, Google it ;)

Now you know what you’ve told
Google Bootcamp is solid gold

Now you know what you’ve heard
Donor’s Choose, keeps it’s word

Tara O’Gorman
5th Grade Educator
Pulaski School Yonkers, NY

Want to begin or continue your EdTech Journey? Check out our Bootcamps and Online Opportunities HERE!

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