1. Is there anything special we need to know about your video?
My particular passion is the “Maths of the Real World” and opening the eyes of learners to the fact that Maths doesn’t exist in a vacuum as many of them imagine. This video is intended to give a taste of that as well as a sense of my creativity and humour as an educator.
The video is primarily intended to motivate my application to the Google Teacher Academy. However, I also wanted to showcase the possibilities for basic storytelling (using free or relatively inexpensive digital media tools) in learning today. My particular passion is the “Maths of the Real World” and opening the eyes of learners to the fact that Maths doesn’t exist in a vacuum or textbook as many of them imagine. Rather, it is used actively in their lives on a day to day basis. This video is intended to give a taste of that as well as a sense of my creativity and humour as an educator.
2. Describe an obstacle you encountered in your professional life and how you overcame it.
Almost two years ago, I attended my first Ed-Tech conference where a significant shift occurred in my perspective on education. Afterwards, I felt compelled to bring this new perspective back to the school where I worked. However, a lack of awareness regarding the opportunities available to us quickly became an issue. I started writing emails to management describing my ideas but they got lost amongst other to do’s. After that, I changed my approach and started working from the ground up, getting more heavily involved in the introduction of Ed-Tech to the staff in a hands-on manner. By forming relationships across the school, my ideas were given more weight as they rose up the social hierarchy in multiple areas. As a result, I feel the trajectory of management has been positively altered.
3. What inspired you to apply to the Google Teacher Academy?
I was inspired to apply to the GTA programme because of my interaction with presenters at the ZAGAFE 2013 conference. They all came across as fantastically interesting teachers and had such in-depth skill sets with regard to educational technology. All were also were able to adapt their knowledge into a variety of situations effortlessly. My goal is to obtain the level of impact with my teaching that I observed in those who had been through the programme. I feel I am highly motivated and all I need is a growth path that allows me to stay inspired, keep learning and share my thoughts with like-minded people. The GTA programme feels like the perfect fit in this regard.
4. Describe one of your favorite teaching moments. What made it so special for you and your students?
My favorite teaching moment was the moment I realised that to continue to grow as a teacher, and keep my students engaged and inspired, I had to implement positive risk taking in my classroom. For me, this has meant accessing things that truly interest me as a person and letting these seep into my classroom practice. It has also meant making sure that I am connected to colleagues from all around the globe to continually inspire and challenge me, as well to as to support and refine the ideas I have. I feel that in reaching this realisation, I have embarked on a journey as an educator that will allow me to forge a more meaningful career for myself. My students will also have a teacher who is more engaged and dynamic in what he does.
5. Describe your role as a professional developer.
My informal role as a professional developer compromises my contribution to my PLN of fellow teachers. The formal component of my role as a professional developer comprises presenting workshops to the staff at my school on the following types of content: Edmodo, Google Forms & Shared Calendars. Recently, I also presented at ZAGAFE 2013 on how to create a clicker system for free using Google Forms.
6. Describe your level of proficiency with Google Apps.
I have been working with Google Apps on an ongoing basis for about two years. Functionally, I would estimate I am well acquainted with about 60% of the features offered by the Google Apps I use regularly like Google Drive, Chrome & YouTube.
7. What inspired you to apply to the Google Teacher Academy?
My awareness of and inspiration to apply to the Google Teacher Academy came from the 2013 ZAGAFE Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. I have had a desire to upgrade my skills base significantly for a while now, specifically in a way that is relevant to my world as a teacher. The GTA programme stood out for me as it seemed ideally suited to this purpose. I was further inspired by interacting with presenters at the conference who had been through the GTA programme. They all had such an in-depth skill set with regard to educational technology and were able to adapt their knowledge into a variety of situations effortlessly. They also came across as fantastically interesting teachers and I felt I shared a lot of their basic traits: I am curious by nature and find learning incredibly interesting in and of itself. In all honesty, my goal is to obtain the level of impact with my teaching that I observed in those who had been through the GTA programme and feel that it would be a good fit for me as a result.
On a more specific level I feel inspired to apply to the GTA because of the following reasons:
- The opportunity to learn advanced Information Technology skills that would not normally be acquired in the course of my day to day job. This in turn will allow me to integrate more interesting activities into my teaching. It will also allow me to gain insight into how to more effectively streamline educational administration at my school(s).
- To connect to a group of teachers who find meaning in their job, are inspiring, and strive for excellence in their work because it is an intrinsic part of their value system. I unashamedly love learning and am passionate about it because of the joy and fulfilment that it brings me. It would be helpful to feed off the energy of teachers with a similar disposition.
- To take my knowledge as an educator with a focus in educational technology to the next level. I have a reasonable base of knowledge at present but feel I am capable of much more than just perfecting my day to day realities. For this, a shift in my mindset is necessary and I need to be exposed to a completely new set of approaches to solving the issues I face as a teacher in education. I feel this program is my opportunity for that fundamental improvement that would not be possible if I continue to learn in a less networked environment.
- One of my long term career goals is to become someone who works to effect meaningful change in educational policy in my country. However, to do this, I feel I need as broad an exposure as possible to a wide variety of educational situations/institutions to gain the required base of knowledge to truly understand the state of the problems. I believe the advanced skills development and connectedness I would emerge from the GTA programme with would allow me the flexibility to move between a large variety of different roles as required, further developing my understanding of the educational system at large. I can envision myself, a few years after GTA, travelling around South Africa to various schools in need of a turnaround of sorts and redeploying the skills I have obtained to invoke change, better understanding the policy challenges embedded in education as I go.
- I believe that investing my time in acquiring an advanced level of understanding of the set of free productivity tools that Google has released offers me the greatest development possibilities for my career, per unit time invested. This relates to the fact that I believe the educational institutions of the world will start to more and more rely on Google’s services because of the open access , scalability and inherent advantages embedded in designing tools for sharing from the ground up.
Over the last two years, I have reached the stage in my career that I understand myself and my own uniqueness in relation to my job. I now know that my natural characteristics and passions as a person are ideally suited to being an educator and I have found my true vocation. I feel I am highly motivated and engaged and all I need is a growth path that allows me to stay inspired, keep learning and share my thoughts with like-minded people . The Google Teacher Academy Programme is the perfect fit in this regard.