Gaga over Google: Andrea goes to GTA

The Application

It all began with an email from Janet encouraging me and a couple of other folks from Red Cedar Writing Project to apply to the Google Teacher Academy in Chicago.  The deadline was rapidly approaching and it was quite daunting: not only did we have to write in response to questions, but we had to create a ONE MINUTE VIDEO!  I was really unsure of my “concept” and talked it through with a number of my colleagues.  Thanks to my carpooling buddy, Leigh, I clarified my vision and got to work.  I emailed around the video and, after a brief comment period, posted it on Google videos and finished my application.  I was proud of the way the video turned out and was super excited to wait for the news of whether or not I would get it. The next day, Aram noted a typo in the video and I was horrified.  What kind of English teacher misses a typo in her application video?  I realized that it was too late and hoped for the best…

September

Finally,  it was September 2nd, the day arrived when I would be receiving the email on whether or not I would be going to Google.   An email arrived:

“Congratulations Andrea!

You have been selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy. After reviewing your application, we believe that you have the experience and passion necessary to positively impact K-12 education, and we are excited to have you join us on Wednesday, September 24th at the Google office in downtown Chicago, Illinois.”

I was ecstatic!  I couldn’t believe that I, humble English teacher, would be traveling to Chicago to go to GOOGLE!

The logistics were intense: I was traveling to a PD on Monday, had an event at the University Tuesday evening, Google was Wednesday and I had to be back Wednesday night because my husband would also be travelling and my mom only agreed to one night with the twins…but I had my mind set to make it work.  I made arrangements and was ready to go.

Tuesday 8:00 pm: Detroit Airport

I sat in the airport giddy with anticipation.  After a crazy start to my week, I was on my way to Google!  I was set to arrive in Chicago at 10:30 Central Time (11:30 EST) and would arrive at my hotel late after a shuttle ride to my hotel.

Finally, Chicago!

I awoke in the pre-dawn hours too excited to sleep.  Today is the Google Teacher Academy.  I wondered about the other teachers and educators who I would be meeting and what I would be learning about.  I was curious if the Google offices were as cool as the urban legends claimed: food every 100 feet,  young hipsters playing ping-pong until the creative juices started to flow again, geniuses carrying out highly profitable business in jeans.

I caught a cab way too early and made my way to 20 West Kinzie Street.  The cabbie dropped me off (after an embarrassing cab ride where I tried to make conversation and the cabbie refused to talk to me) and I quickly located the Starbucks on the next block (is it also a requirement that a Starbucks be located within 500 feet of the front office door of Google?  Actually, Google’s micro-kitchen included a special Starbucks brewing machine AND a espresso machine).

I then made my way to the lobby of the Dearborn center where Google’s offices are located.  I made my way to the elevator when I was stopped by security, the first of many times it turns out, because I hadn’t checked in.  I received my Google badge and was escorted by Google personnel to the 8th floor of the Google offices.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind.  The agenda was horribly off-track, and the whole day was a rush of trying to make up time.  I learned a lot of great stuff.  Throughout the day, I was peppering Janet with emails of how excited I was to be there and how many interesting things I was learning.  There is no way to synthesize the “brain dump” that occured, but I plan to blog and podcast in this webspace about what I learned over the course of the next few weeks.

Home again…

After a yummy celebration dinner, I caught a cab to the airport where my flight was delayed by rain and finally straggled home at 2 am.  As tired as I was after such an amazing day, I found myself unable to sleep because of all the ideas I had in my head.

I cannot communicate what a valuable experience this was for me.  Thank you Google Teacher Academy! I am so proud to be a Google Certified Teacher!

Andrea and Katie at GTA

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