This summer, after the rejection that was GTA Atlanta, I sat and talked to my friend Lise while I was in Canada about my Google Teacher Academy rejection. She flat out told me that my biggest problem was that I do not talk about the things that I do enough. She reminded me of my network of connections and how I don’t “hightlight” them at all. She even said that I didn’t talk specifically about the mathematical connections that I help teachers and students make through inquiry using applicable tools. Then, there is the whole part about me speaking at conferences all over the country and teaching online webinars. Yeah…I don’t talk much about those things either.
The bottom line, in her words, was that I do no sell myself enough nor do I acknowledge the things that I do and if I wanted to be considered for such a thing as GTA or any other specialized group…I better learn how to sell…RAFRANZ. In other words, stop being so modest.
Honestly, I still struggle with selling RAFRANZ because in all honesty, I’d much rather spend my time helping others recognize themselves.
And then came Austin…
I spent more time on the video than I did before…creating something that I believe spoke to who I am as an educator. In less than a minute, I created a look inside my life in a single day. I chose not to talk about the 15,000 chromebooks in our district, the in-summer google camps that we hosted, the countless staff developments, cross country sessions, webinars, google hangouts, cross curricular collaborations or even my upcoming keynotes.
I focused on what drives and motivates me. I also directly included Braeden since so much of his story lays the framework for what I do. It’s not about his insane puppet creativity, it’s how he learned, continues to learn and shares. Without youtube, there would be no puppets.
But then the questions…
What holds people back from applying is sometimes the intimidation of the video but the video is only a teeny tiny percentage. The rest is all about how you share who you are on “paper”. Every GCT that I have talked to, said that people needed to spend more time on the questions because they actually weigh quite a bit heavier than the video. For this application, we had 1 minute for the video and only 800 characters each on the extended questions. That’s not a lot.
Question 1 was a question about overcoming hardship and I shared a specific example about the event that pushed me to go back to college…forever changing the course of my family’s life. I’m actually okay with question 1 even though I considered writing about my struggles in tech & the absence of diversity.
Question 2 was more than likely my big miss. I may actually have gone all “nerd city” talking about connecting with “people like me” and the more that I think about it, the more that it bothers me because this question easily lent itself to talking about sharing the power of global learning and being able to have exposure to new ideas that I could not only take back to my school and connected community but home…to the kid that inspires every ounce of my work.
No regrets though…except question 2…darn…
Let me be clear in saying that I didn’t write this post so that people would leave sympathy comments or even comments about “why I didn’t need GTA”. Please don’t. (There is a reason that I wanted to do this again and to those that care about me…and you know who you are…I need you to trust me.)
I wrote this post-submission reflection so that any others who may be thinking of applying can learn from me and my mistakes.
1. From my ATL rejection, I learned that making the video was much more about sharing my story as an educator while answering “the question”. Be creative. Get your story across in one minute but at the end of the day, with the video counting so little…it really is about answering the question and making something that shares who you are!
2. Take Lise’s advice. Sell yourself like crazy! What do you do? Why do you do it? When do you do it? Where do you do it? At the end of the day, if you aren’t willing to highlight what you do…why apply? (ok…fine!)
3. After you hit submit, don’t second guess any creative decisions. Don’t use voxer to whine about the things that you could’ve, would’ve and should’ve done differently. It’s done now. Instead, learn from it. Share with someone else and plan for the next event because at the end of the day, whether I miraculously make it to Austin or not, there is still plenty of work to be done.
In the meantime, I’m posting my video again because I am proud of it and so is the kid…even if “the specificity of how I innovate” is unclear.