Wednesday, August 28, 2019

TED Masterclass at Google NYC

Such a cute photo opp.
Another visit to a Google office, and another blog post. This time, I journeyed the long route of the New Jersey Turnpike via Megabus to attend a TED Masterclass. This workshop was organized so that those of us participating in the Masterclass were able to get feedback about our ideas and help shape future TED talks. That's right, I'm working on a talk for TED. Don't panic yet though, they're only going to post the best ones on YouTube and only one or two participants will be invited to the main TED stage.

Photobooth fun
When I arrived at Google, there were already a few Innovators waiting in the lobby. We took advantage of the amazing scenery to capture some pictures to begin the day. They even had a photobooth with a corkboard to share your images. The photobooth printed two copies each time so you had one to take home.

Once we settled into our room for the day, we were greeted by the education team for TED. Starting with some ice breakers, even though some of us already knew each other, we meet tons of new people as well. We talked about our inspiration to become teachers and struggles we face in the role.

The entire group.
One teacher discussed how his accent is something he's proud of but that he often worries for his children to be growing up "different" from their peers. They originated from Puerto Rico and moved to NY a few years ago when his children were still very young. Another teacher, also from NY, spoke about how teaching is his second career and he began as a talent agent. Before the me too movement, he was tired of being part of the system and changed careers.

Throughout the day, the discussions were designed to help us create a theme for our own TED talks. We listened to each other, made suggestions, and even helped point out ideas the other person might not have considered. The teacher from Puerto Rico told us a beautiful story about how moving here separated his children from their support system back home because family is very important; they still have their mother and father, but no longer have their grandparents, aunts and uncles nearby.

Google for Education Certified Innovator and TED signs in front of room.
Ready to start, after many reunions.
You might be wondering what theme I've selected to work on fine tuning for my TED talk. Well, it's still in the really early rough stages, but I decided to theme my talk around reluctant learners. My personal connection to this topic is my many failed attempts to get healthy before, finally, in my thirty's I was successful with a plan that helped me get physically healthy. I'm still working on the emotional side.

Just as I needed to be ready to get healthy myself, our students can't be forced into doing something until they're ready. Additionally, the type of encouragement you provide them can make an impact. Want to hear more? I promise to share my TED Talk when it's all finished. For now, I'll leave you with this beautiful picture of the NY skyline from Google's balcony.

View from one of the office's balcony.

Friday, August 2, 2019 Is A Teacher's Best Friend logoIf you're like me, you're always looking for ways to fund exciting new lessons for your students, buy basic supplies for the classroom, or fund your own professional development.

Since 2014, I have raised over $10,000 for a variety of projects using Some failed to reach the finish line but over all I've had ten projects for my classrooms and five projects for professional development funded.

This back to school season (August 2019), is giving you another reason to stop procrastinating. From August 18th until August 25th, any new teacher that creates an account AND posts their first project will get a $50 donation. I'm personally going to add to that. If you use my ambassador referral link ( to sign up, I'll give you back your referral credit towards your project.

So how do you get started? Here's the process broken down into seven steps. If you need help, reach out to me via email or Twitter. I'm here to help because when you succeed, your students succeed.
  1. Sign-up and fill in your profile. You'll need to select your school.
    • Donors can search by general location, school, or teacher.
    • All funded projects are required to be shipped to schools for accountability.
  2. Check for promotions.
    • There are constantly promotions being offered by a variety of charitable organizations. Always start here because you never know if there are special words that will help you raise funds faster. 
      • Example: If you're buying a 3D printer for a Makerspace, there might be a promotion for STEM but you're required to select "Applied Science" as your category instead of "General Science" or "Art". Same project but a different classification can make all the difference.
  3. Go Shopping.
    • No seriously, go shopping. Select one of the approved vendors and add items to your cart. When you "check out" it'll bring you back to
    • Try to keep your request under $500 for the first time. There is a $100 minimum so keep that in mind.
    • Need something special that you can't find through a vendor, you can make a special request.
      • If you're planning a trip, guest speaker, etc. you can upload price quotes.
  4. Write your rationale.
    • Be honest. How will the requested items help your students and the classroom. Be sure to check your spelling and grammar. Once it's posted, you can't edit the request.
  5. Promote.
    • Post on social media
    • Include a link in your class newsletter
  6. Watch the funds come in.
    • You may need to continue promoting your project a few times.
    • Remember to thank each donor. You can reply to the "you received a donation" email to make it easy.
  7. Receive your project and make sure to follow-up.
    • This last step is just as important as the rest. After you receive your project, make sure you follow the steps to close it out.
      • Post pictures so they know it reached the students (block student faces or take the back of heads)
      • Send student thank you letters if required (I make it extra credit)
      • Write an impact statement.
If you need help, send me an email or look me up on Twitter. Good luck!