As of Dec 30th, 2016 all of the 150+ certified teachers on staff at my district have achieved the Google Educator Level 1 certification. Google later notified me that we were the first public school to achieve 100% certification. I thought it would be helpful to explain the why, the how, and the challenges we faced.
What exactly is the Google Educator Certification?
The Google Educator Level 1 certification is an accurate assessment of a teacher’s ability to use the G Suite for Education suite of tools. The exam is a combination of traditional multiple choice questions and eleven simulations where test takers are required to perform tasks such as building a playlist or sharing a file with students. Participants have three hours to complete the exam. Personally, I am a huge advocate for this certification. I’ve listed my reasons in a previous post found here.
Why did we choose to do this?
The certification aligns perfectly with two of the major technology initiatives in the district. The first initiative is to move to 1:1 computing with Chromebooks in all grade levels. Every student and staff member will utilize Google Apps in the 2016-17 school year. The second initiative was the district’s plan to move to Gmail for email communications and Google Drive for file storing needs in December 2016. Achieving the Google Educator Level 1 certification ensured that the district’s staff would have the skills required to be successful in this new environment.
How did we accomplish this?
Three key factors made this goal achievable for our district.
- Administrative Support – Our administrative team was fully behind the plan for certification. The team understood the reasons for making the push to have everyone certified. They believed in it so much that all of our administrative team obtained the certification as well. Teachers saw that the district leadership was willing to take the time to learn the skills, practice them, then sit for the exam. I am confident that this was a major factor in getting the teachers on board for this endeavor. It showed the staff that everyone was on the same team striving for the same goal.
- Options – Teachers had several options when it comes to preparing for the certification exam. The first choice was to do a weekly study session with the district tech integrationist and instructional coach. The eight-week course grouped teachers by grade level or content area. These study sessions were scheduled when it made sense for the team. This route provides the teachers the opportunity to get one hour of credit through a local university as well for a fee. This option was the most popular with an estimated 85% of the staff selecting it. A second option is a day, and a half boot camp that occurred right after school let out for the summer. Day one was a review of the material followed by taking the exam on the second day. The third option was to simply take the exam on their own. We provided those folk with access to the study material, and they could take the exam when it fit into their schedule.
- Technology Integrationist – Our integrationist was a key factor in this process. She arranged her schedule around what worked best for each group of people. That might mean that she was coming in at 7:30 am to meet with three kindergarten teachers and then staying late to work with High School teams. She would give the same training 10-12 times per week if that meant it made it easier for the teachers.
Did you have pushback from the staff on this?
We did originally, from a few people. Once they understood the “why” much of that went away. It also helped that our administrative team took the exam as well. It showed teachers that we valued it and would put in the effort to get certified. When teachers saw their principal in the same training class they were in; it helped a lot. 🙂
Who paid for the exam?
The exam costs $10. The district paid for teachers to take the exam. For those who were not successful on the first try, the district covered the cost to take the exam a second time.