I just got back from a fabulous experience: participating in the Google for Education Certified Innovators Academy and becoming an official Google Innovator! My husband asked me in the airport on the way home, “Do you feel any different?” I thought about that question for a few seconds before I answered; the reply was a resounding yes, but maybe not for the reasons I was originally expecting.
But before I get into that, I thought I would share with you some of the trip’s lagniappes, a term that was the subject of one of the Spark sessions by the fabulous Tinashe Blanchet. A lagniappe, as you likely read above, is an unexpected something extra. I experienced so many lagniappes on my trip to London, it’s hard to know where to begin. The first memorable one was this lovely gift that showed up in our hotel room the evening before the Academy began. Totally unexpected and made me feel so happy and excited and optimistic about the following day’s adventures! Many thanks to Wendy Gorton and Becky Evans at Google for starting us out on such a fun note!
The second lagniappe (although not an entirely unexpected one) was the Oh-My-Gawd experience of being at the Google offices. The entire Academy experience would have been indescribably amazing if it had all taken place in a barn, but having it in the Google meeting rooms really put the icing on the (ahem) cupcake. We were treated like royalty for the three days of the Academy, getting a glimpse of what it would be like to be (and eat like) a Googler. In addition to the incredible information we learned on the design thinking process and how to apply that to our innovation projects, we heard some inside scoop about what it takes to become a Googler, what’s on the horizon for Google for Education products, and the future of Chrome.
Physical lagniappes included some of this deliciously nerdy swag:
Tinashe encouraged all of us to include lagniappes in our work with students, to look for the lagniappes in our innovation projects, and to be the lagniappes that others might need. Being a lagniappe for others is something I’d never really considered before; that’s a humbling yet challenging idea. But it makes sense; of course it’s the people and relationships in our lives that bring us our biggest lagniappes.
So, when I thought about my husband’s question – about whether I felt changed by the experience – I realized I’d been wrong about my expectations. Before I left, if I’d thought about it at all, I probably would’ve said that “feeling different” would be about finally making it into the cool kids’ club. A lifelong nerd, I had assumed that I would somehow feel like I’d finally arrived or belonged. And – not gonna lie – it is pretty stinkin’ awesome to be in the Innovators’ club. But the real feeling of “changed-ness” comes from having had the pleasure and privilege of meeting all of the wonderful, brilliant, committed educators who are now not only lifelong professional contacts, but also friends. The capital-F kind of friends, like those you meet at camp, who bond over shared experiences and inside jokes (#wehadacartwheel) and memories. They’re the friends who make you cry upon leaving them because they’re just such genuinely good people and the thought of not seeing them again for ages makes you sad. The friends who change you for the better.
Now that’s a lagniappe.