When I received an email in March that I was selected as the PBS Lead Digital Innovator for Georgia, I was completely shocked and honored to be chosen. As a first year technology coordinator and former health and physical education teacher, I honestly did not believe I had a chance to be selected for this award. When remembering any accolades or honors, there are always others who have helped me be in a position to be recognized. Some pave the way, while others motivate, advise, or help us refine skills necessary to be in a position to receive praise. 

The PBS LearningMedia honor would not have happened if it wasn’t for a friend and the members of my PLN who regularly encouraged me to apply. Although I was still fearful of applying and that what I was able to do in my building would be good enough to even be considered, I somewhat reluctantly started my essay. The week before the application due date, I wavered and decided I was not going to submit my application. Luckily for me, however, I received timely affirmation and encouragement from a friend who was a 2015 PBS Digital Lead Innovator for her state. She gave me great insight about the process, provided encouragement, and offered me suggestions for my video and application. I am very grateful for the push, advice, and motivation my brilliant friend gave me, which I believe were key factors that increased my chances of being selected as the 2016 PBS LearningMedia Lead Digital Innovator for Georgia.   

Being a PBS Lead Digital Innovator has been an awesome experience. I have been able to write blog posts for GPB Education, did my first ever Ignite talk at a GPB/DiscoveryEd event in August, and most importantly have been able to connect with many other great educators across the country. I have been grateful to represent educators across the state of Georgia, and I am appreciative of the opportunity to learn from and connect with other passionate educators all over the country in the past year thanks to this program.

Here are some tips if you are thinking about applying to become a 2017 PBS Digital Innovator: 

1. Apply: Don’t think any longer and apply. I thought I had no chance in being selected—which is true if you never apply. Don’t let fear or a lack of confidence hold you back from the application process. You will gain valuable experience and step a bit out of your comfort zone during the process. Regardless of whether or not you’re selected, these aspects are important for educators.  

2. Read and follow the application directions: You might have the greatest video showing how you utilize technology to differentiate for all your learners, but your video is ten seconds too long and you don’t answer the essay questions that are asked. Both of these instances will mostly like get your application placed in the “no” stack. Make sure you thoroughly read all of the application requirements and follow them precisely. 

3. Be creative but very clear: Applications and videos that include these facets are definitely going to increase your chances for success. Make sure your video and essay are clear: videos are edited properly, good sound quality, etc. and your essay is free from grammar/spelling errors and has a great flow. As a digital innovator, you need to demonstrate your creativity. Share some of the creative aspects of your classrooms, game-changing ideas, or innovation you have brought to your students and/or school. 

4. Approval: Make sure if you are including students in your video, you have approval from their parents/guardians. Most schools have a media release policy, but you are including them in something that is related to you personally. Make sure you get written approval from parents/guardians before including any students in your video submission to PBS. 

5. Authentic: Show PBS who you really are. With the extra presence of social media, it is easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and trying to emulate that. While it is okay to have those mentors or veteran educators to follow and pattern from, your style is yours. Show PBS what makes you unique as an educator. Be authentic in your video and your essay, giving PBS a glimpse of who you really are. Use the application process to share your voice and all the unique things you bring to the classroom as an educator.  

Hopefully these tips will help you tackle this process. Good luck and do not forget if you are not selected it is not a negative reflection on you as educator. Continue to do good work for all students everyday, because that is the sometimes behind-the-scenes award that really matters!

For more information about PBS Digital Innovators and the application process, click here