Well, after two full days of Google indoctrination, there is just so much to talk about.
If you've spent any amount of time in my vicinity over the last couple of months, you know that I won't shut up about how desperately I want ChromeBooks for my students. Like, I want them really badly. When the opportunity arose (aka, the millisecond I heard about the opportunity) to attend the Google Summit, I basically lost my mind. It went a little something like, "SWEET LORD, PLEASE CAN I GO? BUT SERIOUSLY. WHAT DO I NEED TO DO? SHOULD I GO NOW AND JUST WAIT THERE?! Oh...I mean. Right. I'm a super-professional. What I meant was 'uh, sure. I'll go.'"
I think that excitement was genuinely in anticipation of what I would learn, but in a little corner of my mind, I was holding out that some Oprah-like figure from the greater San Fransisco-y area itself would materialize and pull a classic: YOU GET 50 CHROMEBOOKS! ...AND YOU GET 50 CHROMEBOOKS! (But mostly just me. Because I'm selfish. True story: They gave away a ChromeBook as a door prize to a person that I'm sure is completely pleasant. I couldn't even bring myself to clap for her because I was consumed with crazy jealousy. Not proud.)
Spoiler alert: Oprah-like figure didn't, in fact, appear. But, I did learn a TON of amazing information, and I have about 234789037890623 ideas for my classes next year.
But first, I must say that I did leave with a prize; I got a door prize for one of the best tweets of the Summit.
In thinking about the Summit as a whole, and what to do with all of it, it would be simple to say that I'm equal parts inspired and frustrated, but I don't think that's really fair. Let me explain:
I am frustrated because I know that in implementing change in my own classroom (as inspired by all things Google Summit and their messengers), and ultimately the communication of these amazing tools to my coworkers, will prove to be difficult. I tend to try and anticipate the questions before they come, and ultimately, I know that when questions arise about feasibility and how much work it will take to integrate and change, I don't have totally firm, concrete, magical answers to give. And that's frustrating for me. Because, as anyone who knows me, knows, I do love to have all the answers. But it's also hard because I worry that, upon hearing that I don't know them with 100% certainty, coworkers will smile politely and walk away, without seriously considering any change.
And truthfully: things need to change.
I don't mean that just my coworkers practice needs to change, I mean all of ours, the systems we're working under, our understanding of what our students are capable of--all of it. This is where you might be thinking that this also falls under the frustrated category, but it doesn't. I'm inspired by this.
Over and over again the last two days, I have been blown away at the things that are available for my students, and your students, and everyone's. The hive-mind that exists outside of my little bubble is humbling. I can't tell you how often I've truly wanted to change things up, try something new (and scary), but for the fear of wasting precious time, haven't. Because it's been so easy to feel alone on my little desperate-to-equip-my-students-for-the-future island, I have been missing it. This whole community exists where people are crushing it. There are endless resources, and all I need is some planning and the nerve to try it out.
It's happening, people.
But the best part? I'm not over-the-moon excited about literally everything (you would be amazed at all the bookmarking that's happened these last two days) just because it's awesome, or because I'm thinking about how cool it will be when we do all the things. It's exciting, yes. And cool. But I'm out of my mind excited because ultimately, the goal remains the same. The technology is a tool--a means to an end. A very, very, cool means, but a means just the same. The end goal isn't checking off all the awesome Google tools my kids and I use to make awesome stuff this year. The goal is to use the best tools possible to increase my students' ability to think critically, create solutions to problems they face, and become better humans in the time we spend together. If those best tools involve the amazing things I've been learning about: I'm down.
Do I want ChromeBooks for my students so badly that I can hardly think/talk about anything else? Yes. Have I filled out a ridiculous number of grant applications begging for the funds to purchase them? Sure. Will ChromeBooks solve all my problems? Nope. Of course not. They are a tool in the process of growing these learners. A tool I really, really want.
But even if I can't manage to make ChromeBooks happen for my kids, and even if I try a bunch of new, different tools to reach the end goal, and some (or most) of them fail. If we super-suck at making it happen the way we set out to, we're no worse off than we were when we started.
I will screw it up. The absolute opposite of what I want to have happen, will happen. But isn't that how life is, too? I know I'm getting all transcendental, here, but even if things don't go the way I planned, isn't my goal of setting my students up for success in high school and way past it still being accomplished through those failures? There were several people who did a lot of wise talking about the concept of using failure to fuel progress, and I'm into it. I live by it. The only way I get to be these kids' teacher is because of it. So, what can it hurt to bring a little more of that into my classroom?
I'll leave you with a video a few speakers shared that you've probably seen, but watching in the context of embracing, and (dare I say) celebrating failure moved it past adorable and into inspiring territory:
What do you think? Have you been thinking of trying something new/scary? Let's talk about it.