Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why I'm not becoming a Google Certified Trainer. Yet.

I recently spent 3 days surrounded by 30 very nice ed-techie Texans, all of whom were focused on the same goal: passing 5 tests to earn the Google Trainer Essentials Certificate. If you had asked me at the beginning of the week what my end game was, my answer would have been "becoming a Google Certified Trainer." But now, I'm not so sure.

Just to be clear, you'd be hard pressed to find a bigger evangelist of Google Apps for Education than me. It streamlines teacher workflow, enhances collaboration, and gives student a safe, creative place to explore what it means to be a digital citizen. Marry it with a Chromebook and it takes less time to power up than it does to turn to page 128 in a social studies textbook. It's a game-changer.

But the more I think about it, the less convinced I am that becoming a GCT is the path I need to be on right now. The first step was passing the 4 core tests (Docs/Drive, Sites, Gmail, Calendar) and 1 elective (in my case, Chrome), which proved to me that I know what I'm talking about (and I got a fancy certificate to show people when I corner them at dinner parties). Step 2 to becoming a fully certified trainer would only require a resume, 3 references and a screencast, none of which are difficult things to do.

But here's my hangup: annual recertification requires conducting 12 Google trainings every year.

Practically speaking, that would probably happen without even trying. My job is to train teachers, we're piloting Chromebooks, and we're rolling out GAFE. Opportunities abound. The issue is more philosophical: would I be exclusively focused on the needs of my teachers when one of my considerations in planning professional development is making sure I get my GCT hours in?

I'm just wondering if any trainer certification in the education realm that's conferred by a vendor carries with it a certain conflict of interest. It seems to especially be the case when the recertification process requires prioritizing the vendor's product.

While a Google app may often be the best tool for a given situation, equally as often it won't be. I want to make sure I keep the freedom to train teachers using whatever works best, which means evaluating a variety of tools from diverse sources, then picking the one that meets the need without stopping to consider if it meets my recertification requirement.

So for my first year, I'm going to make sure I'm focused on who I'm serving, not on reaching a training number. Maybe once I get some experience under my belt, I'll realize that there are plenty of hours to go around. We'll see. But for now, that's why I'm not becoming a Google Certified Trainer...yet.


  1. You have certainly expressed some of the concerns I felt when I initially became a trainer. I vowed then that I would always focus on the learning, and not the tool. That's just sound pedagogy. If I don't reach my required sessions, so be it. But that hasn't happened yet, since I ended up training quite a bit more often than I had anticipated.

    I applaud your focus, and I believe that's at the core of every good educator - a keen sense of who we're serving. If the tool fits, great. If it doesn't, it's time to look elsewhere. Keep on doing what you're doing: it's the right path to take!

  2. Integrity is a commendable character trait. Doing what is best for kids HAS to be the focus of anyone who calls him/herself an educator.

  3. Haven't heard that level of integrity from the training world in some time. Refreshing...

  4. Just became a Google Certified Trainer last week, and as an administrator with very little time on my hands, I worry too whether that stipulation puts undo stress on my position. Reflecting more deeply however my entire professional world revolves around training staff and students in the best tools for the job. Sometimes it is a Google product, sometimes not. Either way, I believe at the end of the day there will be a surplus of trainings that will occur to meet the requirements. If not, I bow out and am still a friend of Google.

  5. I went down this same road a while back, but not for the same reasons. Essentially, the need to have "trainer" as an official designation, when I am already a teacher, just did not make sense to me. I am certified by the governing body where I teach - and am so for life unless I really screw things up. Thing is, for 25 years I have been training students (and colleagues). Having my level 1 and 2 certification was more about me feeling confident in really knowing the G-suite rather than anything else - and the fact that google is the best when it comes to practical and inexpensive (FREE!) apps and tools for students. I will stick with who I am now - a teacher - and maybe when I retire I will see my way to become a trainer and freelance or whatever. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.