This post was originally published in May 2019 on “Off the Beaten Path: A Music Teacher’s Journey.”
This has been an exciting few weeks: last Tuesday I found out I had been accepted into the Google Innovator program and will travel to London this summer to attend the Innovator Academy! This was my second time applying to the program, after not being accepted in 2018, and I am beyond excited to take part!
For those new to the Google Certifications, the Certified Innovator Program is the top educator certification offered by Google. Those accepted take part in a year-long mentorship program beginning with a three-day Innovation Academy. My academy will take place in London this July!
The application process is intense, though not because of its length. The questions are deep and thought-provoking, but are restricted to a limited number of words in each response. Accompanying the written answers is a 1-minute video to pull everything together. Every word and every second counts.
As part of the application process I had to identify a challenge in my field I would like to work on as part of the Innovator program. There were no real stipulations about the challenge, just to identify something meaningful that we would like to solve. I thought of various challenges I face in my job, but what led me to the result was talking to other music teachers, asking about some of their biggest challenges. Most responses were what you’d expect – time, money, support, equipment, teacher training, students practicing, etc. But what captured my attention the most was how people’s demeanor changed upon hearing the question, “what challenges do you face in teaching music?” They visibly sank. I could see the tension entering their bodies just thinking about it. These teachers were stressed! And that defined my challenge:
How might we help music teachers find balance in their lives to be more present and focused when teaching?
It is obvious the music teachers I talked to are passionate about their jobs. It is obvious they want only the best for their students. But I could also tell that trying to achieve that was causing stress and overwhelm in their lives. Most times, the teachers were putting their jobs before their own wellbeing. And that is not sustainable.
I would not suggest that music teachers are the only ones to feel these pressures. I am sure that all teachers experience it at some level. However, I think music teachers experience it in unique ways. And it’s those ways that need to be addressed. By narrowing my focus to music teachers I have a better chance of making an impact.
I don’t know where this challenge will go! I have a few ideas, but I am trying to be open-minded about it. While at the academy in London we will work through various iterations, and then I have the next year to put it in action.
Right now the focus is getting to know the other 35 members of my cohort, educators from the US, Canada, and the UK! I’ll be honest, there is some imposter syndrome happening as I learn more about these fabulous educators I will work with over the next 12 months! Tomorrow we will meet in a Google Hangout for the first and only time before July. I imagine there will be other assignments and surprises in the meantime. There are many unknowns, but this is a new part of the journey I am excited to begin!