Living in BETA: #COL16 Reflection

Its official: I'm a Google Certified Innovator!

And the experience was even more amazing and life-changing than I ever imagined. Even though its been six days since Boulder Springs, my brain is still overflowing and still processing all the information. But I'm going to try to make my reflections and takeaways as coherent as possible:
The awesomeness that is Google.

  • Be Googley. Without a doubt, Google is a truly innovative company with a unique culture and one of our earliest sessions was about Google Culture. A major aspect of their culture is having fun periodically at work. They have a rock wall, Photo Booth, stage for performances, foosball table, and more. While we were there, they brought in masseuses, caricature artist, ice cream truck, and planned ahead ice breakers and games. This got me thinking about how people tell students that school is their job. So if classes are their work, shouldn't it be fun too? I try to make learning fun with student choice, humor, and [hopefully] engaging projects, but what if I started implementing more frequent ice breakers and games? With 80 minute periods, I definitely have the time and I got some awesome game ideas...

    Great format to follow with future student projects. 
  • Ideation. A major part of our time at Google's Colorado office was working on our innovation project with design thinking. At the Ideation phase, we did a major brainstorming session, which reminded me of the Bad Idea Factory of the 20time Project. Sarah Thomas, one of the coaches, reminded us that we should be welcoming of wild ideas and go for quantity of ideas. I got pretty crazy coming up with ideas for my project (providing parents with training, support, and empowerment through edtech conferences) and it was incredibly helpful. One of my ideas was to have robots or holograms that can interact with parents to answer their questions and help them with technology. After discussing my ideas, I realized that these FAQs are available online, but parents do not seek them out for a variety of reasons. So how do I get parents engaged with edtech beyond what they can find online? This is where I firmly decided that these conferences need to be customized to the needs of the parents and schools. Because of the helpfulness of this brainstorm, I became inspired to integrate this within my classroom; get students to brainstorm the craziest ideas and solutions in order to get them thinking about the project.
Every Yoshi clap your hands! *clap clap clap*

  • #teamyoshi. The first evening at Google we were divided into groups, paired with a coach (Jenni [in the back] Mageria), and come up with a team name. As it turns out, all of us were into Nintendo64 and dinosaurs so we leveled up into...*Team Yoshi*. Initially we thought that maybe all of our innovative projects were connected, but it was simply fate [and a music note] that brought us together.  This amazing group of educators reminded me how important it is to surround yourself with people different from you. It is so easy to stay with people you are familiar with and are similar to you, but it was amazing to brainstorm and discuss with people who had different project goals, perspectives, and life experiences than me. Naturally, this got me thinking about students. Even though they prefer to choose their group members, they can learn so much more from those who are going to challenge their thinking and bring in new perspectives. 



  • Get Others on the Boat. On the second day, Jenni [in the back] discussed how to get everyone on the boat of innovation. Basically, there are three groups of people: the Hoorays, the Hmms, and the Heck Nos. While everyone in #COL16 were the Hoorays, 84% of educators are the Hmms and the Heck Nos, who are hesitant and/or afraid to implement new ideas. In order to make legitimate second-order change, the Hoorays must communicate their learning and enthusiasm in ways that the others will see and understand; using their 'language', their forms of communication, etc. While everything she discussed I have experienced first hand, but I never knew how to combat that. 
  • Living in BETA. By far, my biggest takeaway was from Molly Schroeder's discussion of the 12 Principles of Living in BETA. Almost everything around us has gone through BETA testing. Nothing is perfect on its first release; revisions, updates, patches, recalls, and new versions are released every day for every day items. [I'm currently being reminded of this as I try to play Pokemon Go.] Of course there are 12 principles to Living in BETA, but the most memorable was: "don't be afraid to fail. be afraid not to try." If everyone wanted to release something perfect, then we wouldn't have anything so I can't let the desire for perfection hold me back from making my moonshot ideas a reality.
    • Another powerful principle was "fall in love with the future so that students can create it." I'm incredibly guilty of teasing students that they are the future and that scares me. It always gets a laugh, but really I should be encouraging students that the future will be incredible. If I support them and their ideas, then the future will be incredible. 
Words can never express how much it means to be to be an official Google Innovator. In these few weeks since my acceptance and attendance, I've grown immeasurably and I'm bursting with new ideas and inspiration. On top of that, I have gained my tribe, my family, my people that will support me and any crazy moonshot ideas that I have.
#COL16 #googleEI
Even though the journey at the Google Office in Colorado is over, I still have a lot of work to do in the next year...and I can't wait!

Inspired to become a Google Innovator? DO IT. 
Get more information here and, if you interested, here's my journey to #COL16

Thank you Sylvia Duckworth for finally getting me into SketchNoting!


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