EdTech / Google / Pedagogy / Professional Development

GTACHI and Socrates


Pronounced “Gee-Tah-Chee”.

It’s hard to really quantify the experience that the Google Teacher Academy afforded me this past week. It was an intense 19 hours of study, discussion, collaboration, and demonstration that overwhelmed my brain and sparked innumerable ideas for the future. Rather than go through the list of the myriad new ideas that were discussed (gotta save some stuff for future posts), I’ll try to give my overall impressions of the experience here.

As I thought about the most powerful aspect of the experience, my mind kept coming back to a single thought: “Socrates.” This may seem like an odd analogy, but allow me to explain.

As a teacher who makes use of a lot of technology in the classroom and considers himself pretty competent and engaged in the changing use of technology in education, it’s easy to get complacent. Most tech-savvy teachers are likely looked at by their colleagues in their buildings as always on the cutting edge and ahead of the curve. As such, it becomes really easy to think you have all the tech answers. And while this is wonderful for one’s ego, it’s dangerous. Complacency is one step away from irrelevance, and the minute a teacher thinks “I got this,” thus begins the slow march towards retirement. Even for (maybe especially for) tech-inclined teachers who are years ahead of the majority of teachers in their building in terms of tech, the likelihood of complacency is high.


What made the Google Teacher Academy truly revolutionary was not necessarily the content of what was learned (although, thanks to the amazing lead learners and Danny Silva, the content was incredible), but instead was the cumulative impact of that content on my sense of what I knew and understood. And what I know is…

Absolutely nothing.

The amount of knowledge in the Google Certified Teacher community is immeasurable, and the percentage of that knowledge understood by any one person is miniscule. As I sat in the sessions and saw the amazing things being done throughout the world by my colleagues in the Academy, I was happy to come to a point where I realized that, no matter how much I know and understand about technology, pedagogy and education, I will never, ever understand more than a tiny fraction of the knowledge that exists in that community.

So that brings me back to Socrates, who stated “True knowledge is knowing that you know nothing.” In recognizing the extent to which I truly know a tiny fraction of what it out there, I am motivated to be that much more active in learning from all the incredibly motivated and brilliant colleagues I met this week. And while I am sure that I’ll have the opportunity to get that ego stroke that we all get when we show off some new tech tool that seems like magic, I’ll also be absolutely certain to remind myself that, regardless of my relative understanding of what we consider “innovation” in the tech world, there will never be a time when I can become complacent about what I have yet to learn.

Thanks to the tremendous organizers of GTAChi, to the entire Google Chicago team, and to the amazing teachers and administrators I had the honor of sharing a room with over the last week. I can’t wait to see what amazing things we’ll do together.


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