This is a guest post by one of our blog writers, Sarah Joncas.
There are many benefits to becoming a Google Certified Educator. For music teachers, the Google Certified Educator program offers relevant professional development. It also helps teachers gain new technology knowledge and apply that knowledge to their own teaching context.
The Google Certified Educator program is some of the most valuable professional development that I have completed. I completed both Google Certified Educator Level 1 and Google Certified Educator Level 2.
Let’s learn about what the Google Certified Educator program is, and how it can benefit music teachers!
What is the Google Certified Educator program?
The Google Certified Educator program is a training, testing and certification course offered to teachers through Google. The course and exam cover the use of many Google Apps for Education tools in the context of the classroom. Different parts of each course cover specific skills within a given Google App, such as creating a copy of a Doc or sending a group email.
Most importantly, the Google Certified Educator program challenges teachers to apply what they learn about Google Apps for Education to their own teaching contexts. There are multiple opportunities throughout the course to consider and write about how you might use a specific App or skill in your teaching. Music teachers can use the Google Certified Educator program to get professional development that is relevant to their unique needs.
Google Apps for Education are super useful for music teachers and their students. Learning to use them effectively will help music teachers and music students integrate technology into music learning. You can read more details about the Google Certified Educator Program on Google’s site for the program here.
Completing the Certified Educator Program comes with the use of the Certification name in biographies, resumes, and other contexts, plus a certificate and digital badge.
What Are Google Apps for Education (GAfE)?
Google Apps for Education (GAfE) is a suite of web-based educational tools. GAfE tools include Docs, Slides, Sheets, Classroom, and Blogger. These apps can be used by teachers and students in schools that have “gone Google” with Google hosting their school email addresses. Many of the tools are also available to the public via personal gmail addresses.
You might already be familiar with some of these tools, but that doesn’t mean the Google Certified Educator program won’t be useful for you! I was already a pretty good Google user before starting the first level, and was comfortable with Docs and Slides.
I still learned new tricks, shortcuts, and applications of these tools, and was introduced to a few new GAfE tools along the way. The training is flexible and will work for any level of technology skills.
Why Should I Know and Use GAfE as a Music Teacher?
One of the best things about GAfE is it is free! Using most of the tools on a (free) personal gmail account is possible, and if your school has “gone Google” and uses Google as their email client, you will be able to access the full set of GAfE tools via your school Google login. Many schools are starting to use GAfE tools and ChromeBooks, so learning to use GAfE now helps music teachers stay ahead of the curve.
There are a variety of effective ways to integrate GAfE tools into music lessons. For example, Google Docs is a great way for students to write lyrics collaboratively. Google Slides has many different uses in the music classroom, which I wrote about previously here.
Google Classroom is also a useful tool for submitting singing assignments – keep your eye on this blog for a post coming soon! Learning to use the GAfE tools is a big perk of the Google Certified Educator program.
In addition to the usefulness of GAfE in actually working with students, GAfE makes many of the clerical tasks which music teachers must complete a lot easier. For example, Sheets is the perfect tool to make instrument inventory spreadsheets.
Google Drive makes it easy to back up files, including .mp3 audio files. It is also easy to use gmail to set up email templates to communicate with families. All of these tools can save valuable time and effort, and learning to use them is simple with the Google Certified Educator program.
GAfE is a great tool for music teachers! The Google Certified Educator program is an efficient, self-directed way of learning how to best leverage GAfE for teaching and learning.
Why Get Certified?
The Google Certified Educator program is a certification process full of learning opportunities. Google’s Certified Educator training is freely accessible on their website to anyone with a Google account.
1. Low cost and accessibility
There is a small cost to taking the exam at the end of each course, but it is low compared to many other professional development opportunities. The exam fee for Google Certified Educator Level 1 exam is $10 USD and the cost for the Level 2 exam is $25 USD. This affordable fee and the accessibility of the training and exam make the Google Certified Educator program a great professional development option.
In terms of accessibility, the Google Certified Educator can be completed in the comfort of pajamas on the couch! The training and exam are all online, so they can be completed anywhere that you have internet access. I have completed both of my levels of Google Certified Educator training during summer vacation, and it is a fun and simple break project to get certified. Because the training is entirely self-paced, it can be completed at your leisure, reviewed if necessary, and you can choose when to take the exam.
The course portion of the Google Certified Educator program is full of tips, tricks, and solutions for using GAfE tools. It asks teachers to consider how they will use different tools within their teaching context, rather than just teaching you what the tool does. This encourages music teachers to think about what they want to accomplish with technology, rather than just using technology as a novelty. The process of learning something new through the course can also help teachers connect to their students’ learning process.
3. Impress Administrators and Colleagues
Another benefit of getting certified through the Google Certified Educator program is that it is an “extra” to make music teachers more well-rounded. Because music teachers are asked to do so much beyond just teach in their classroom, additional training can only be beneficial.
A technology certification for a music teacher shows administrators (and potential administrators if you’re job hunting!) that you are well-rounded and can see the importance of learning outside of your subject area. I end up doing assorted technology tasks in my school, and the Google Certified Educator program training helped me find efficient ways to create presentations, share information, and more.
Being a Google Certified Educator has also helped me build relationships with my colleagues. When I mentioned the certification to a few colleagues while new to my school, word got around that I was the “techy” one. Suddenly teachers I hardly knew were asking me for technology help and suggestions, which gave me an authentic way to get to know them.
There are many benefits to the Google Certified Educator program. Becoming a Google Certified Educator is a great form of professional development for music teachers. The Google Certified Educator program is accessible, affordable, useful, and relevant for music teachers.
I highly recommend signing up to get yourself certified today!
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About the Writer
Sarah Joncas is a music teacher from Massachusetts, USA. She teaches kindergarten through fifth grade general music, fifth grade chorus, fifth grade band, and percussion ensemble. Before becoming a teacher, she worked with technology and educational software.
In 2014, she was named a TI:ME Technology in Music Education Leadership Fellow, which allowed her to attend a music education conference in Texas and explore cutting edge music teaching technology. She has earned degrees in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Boston University. You can connect with Sarah on Twitter or her blog Teaching Music Musings.