Why My School Had Every Teacher Become A Google Certified Educator

The Google Apps for Education (GAFE) suite has been a mainstay at a variety of institutions for quite some time. While email has been an essential tool of teachers for decades, the introduction of Learning Management Systems (LMS), such as Google Classroom, have allowed for more effective integration of other tools like Drive and Calendar, among many others.

Just as with any professional environment, there is the goal for members to be proficient with these tools. However, we have been struggling to meet this goal with less structured professional development sessions and disconnected use by teachers across grade levels.

Well the time has come… Instead our summer professional development being to read a book focusing on philosophies, we shifted to skill acquisition with requiring all instructional staff and administration to become Level 1 Google Certified Educators.

Ultimately, the question is WHY would we do that?

Objective #1: Skill Development

One of the most attractive elements of utilizing Google’s certification platform was the ubiquitous nature of the learning. During in person PD sessions, teachers were not able to engage in learning at their level of expertise. Whereas the online tutorials and practice questions on the Google learning platform allowed for consistent instruction and timely feedback on content understanding at a depth and pace self-selected by each teacher.

Even better, the tutorials offered support in a variety of ways. In certain scenarios teachers had access to step by step instructional guides and outlines, while for other skills video were provided as an effective means of demonstrating the skill. Often there were multiple resources for a specific skill.

Without going into details that violate the non-disclosure agreement, the assessment of skills on the “Certification Exam” was a combination of multiple choice questions and skill demonstration. This atypical assessment strategy required teachers to not only know ideas, but also be able to use each skill. Where many ideas had previously lived in obscurity due to the skill not being used, teachers could now see how those ideas would improve their classrooms.

One aspect we valued was the fact that there was a clear and objective goal for all teachers, Level 1 Certification. While we knew each of our teachers were starting at different places (like our students), we wanted to provide time, space, and resources for everyone to show skill at a required level. By allowing this to be done through an outside source, less subjectivity was introduced to the process.

Objective #2: New Ideas for a New Year

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Each year we have been systematically rolling out new features for teachers and students to use in the classroom. These specifically have been Drive, Forms, and Classroom.

While not strict on the implementation, the power of these applications is their ability to work together and in conjunction with other GAFE apps like Calendar, Sites, and Keep. The Level 1 Certification does not focus as much on integration (as seen in the tutorials), but more on the ability to use each tool for an educational purpose.

The value in this process was that teachers would have ideas on how to use the tools in their classrooms. While we did a quality job with PD on the features of the tools, the certification brought use of the tools for learning to the forefront.

For the firs time since I have been at the school (only three years, so not really that long) we are not introducing a new tool, but are providing space for teachers to apply what they have learned from the certification. Now that teachers are performing at a known level, we can expect them to use tools that enhance teaching and student learning.

Bonus #1: Instructional Design

As discussed in previous sections, Google has done a wonderful job providing varied resources for teachers to learn and practice skills. While not on our original areas of focus, the debriefing of this experience will bring about the topics of differentiated time for learning, building a variety of resource types for learning and support, and ultimately performance oriented assessments.

While not advocating for an “online” model of instruction, the elements of this process can be easily and appropriately modeled in traditional classrooms.

By brining teachers together to discuss the Google Certified Educator course, we will seek to discuss…

  1. How did allowing more fluid timelines for completion alleviate stress?
  2. What types of resources worked for which type of skills?
  3. How can we provide variety to engage different learners?
  4. What is the role of practice in preparing to demonstrate mastery?
  5. Why is it important for students to perform skills, not explain them?
  6. What is gained by having everyone complete the same task in different ways?

Bonus #2: Empathy for Students

Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

The most unintentional element of this experience is the empathy that teachers can build for their students.

The reality is that many teachers will not have a formal assessment of their skills after they enter the profession, while consistently creating formal assessments for students. In a situation where a teacher’s last test was 20 years ago, there is a great disparity between they and their students experiences.

With more focus being placed on learning through differentiated models, teachers who seek to implement these ideas should be able to effectively empathize with the feelings of their students in the process.

The structure used by the Google Certified Educator experience is a quality model for conceptualizing the idea of differentiating time and resources for students to learn specific skills.

Some teachers will struggle with the structure, as will their students. However, by having teachers engage in learning through a differentiated model, they will be able to relate more effectively to their students.

My name is Andrew Julian and I am a teacher of science and technology. I have a passion for considering how technology can positively impact my classroom and the education of all students.

Checkout my website at andrewjohnjulian.com for other information.

For more about my foray into AR/VR and classroom instruction, you can read my Medium articles, a few of which are found below. Thanks!

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Educator and Aspiring Developer—Visit www.andrewjohnjulian.com for more about my teaching and personal pursuits.

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Andrew Julian

Andrew Julian

Educator and Aspiring Developer—Visit www.andrewjohnjulian.com for more about my teaching and personal pursuits.

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