How to Become a Google Certified Coach

This year, Google is premiering a brand-new certification that is geared toward helping schools and districts build and sustain their edtech integration over the long-term. Known as the Certified Coach program, this latest certification can help existing instructional technology coaches grow their understanding of Google’s services and apply their knowledge while supporting their institution’s teaching goals.

But how do you become a Google Certified Coach? Is there a special curriculum or test you need to take? Do you need Educator certifications to become a Certified Coach? We’ll answer those questions and more in this step-by-step guide to becoming a Google Certified Coach.

What is a Google Certified Coach?

At their core, a Google Certified Coach is an individual who has, through participation in a tailored education program, grown their coaching toolkit and gained a deeper understanding of Google’s educational offerings. Google Certified Coaches are able to more effectively support educators in their school or district in turn, whether they use just a couple Google apps or have fully integrated with Google Workspace for Education.

Who should become a Google Certified Coach?

Google has shaped the curriculum and content of their Certified Coach program with current technology coaches in mind. In other words, individuals who spend the majority of their time supporting edtech integration and working 1:1 with educators will be best suited for this certification program. Those looking to learn research-backed strategies for improving their coaching practices will also be well-served by the Google Certified Coach Program.

How Does a Google Certified Coach Differ from Google’s Other Education Certification?

Currently, Google offers a wide variety of education- and professional development-oriented certification opportunities. Most notable among these are the Google Educator certifications, which focus on classroom implementation of Google’s apps and services. The Google Certified Coach Program differs from these because it focuses on practical coaching strategies, rather than teaching strategies alone.

Along the same lines, the Google Certified Coach Program differs from both the Google Trainer and Google Innovator certification programs. In particular, the Google Certified Coach Program focuses on teaching participants 1:1 coaching strategies, while the Trainer Program teaches experts how to deliver 1:many professional development experiences. Meanwhile, the Google Innovator program does not focus on professional learning at all, and instead centers on teaching participants to lead innovative education projects in their school or district.

Why Become a Google Certified Coach?

Becoming a Google Certified Coach comes with a variety of benefits, both for the individual and the institution they serve.

For example, instructional coaches who participate in this program walk away with a great deal of up-to-date knowledge on Google service utilization best practices. New Google Certified Coaches will also learn about an innovative 5-step coaching system that can help them enhance their 1:1 work with teachers in the near term. Taken together, these new skills and knowledge can help new and veteran coaches alike become more robust in their support role.

Also, current instructional coaches have an opportunity to gain distinction through the Google Certified Coach Program. In particular, this program provides successful candidates with a credential that allows them to communicate specialization within their team or demonstrate their commitment to continuously growing their coaching competency.

Larger institutions, including schools and districts, have a lot to gain through the Google Certified Coach Program as well. With an in-district Google Certified Coach, for example, teachers and administrators gain access to the latest insights from a member of a nationwide coaching community. Through their Certified Coach, districts also gain access to special professional development opportunities and timely updates on all Google for Education topics.

How to Become a Google Certified Coach

Becoming a Google Certified Coach does require some investment of your time. However, the payoff at the end is well worth it if you are looking to take your skills as an instructional coach to the next level.

Follow these steps and you’ll find yourself a newly-minted Google Certified Coach in no time!

Note: These steps are accurate as of March 2021. This certification process, its requirements, and its cost are subject to change in the future.

Step 1 – Complete the Curriculum

First, certification candidates will need to participate in and complete Google’s Coach Certification curriculum. This curriculum is tailor-made with current coaches in mind, providing them with a research-backed 5-step coaching model and other effective coaching strategies that they can actively implement while working through the certification process.

In terms of structure, the Coach Certification curriculum is made up of several modules, each tackling several competencies required for successful implementation of new coaching strategies in the field. Each of these modules is followed by a series of knowledge check questions as well as opportunities to reflect on the personal progress.

In total, Google estimates that this curriculum takes about 20 hours to complete. However, each module is designed to be completed at a different time of year (IE before the start of the fall semester, during spring break, etc.) So, the total number of hours should not be viewed as contiguous.

In any case, this curriculum is entirely self-guided. As a result, candidates may read through and review curricular content at any time, including while they are preparing for their certification assessment.

Step 2 – Earn Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 Certifications

If you have not already, Coach certification candidates will next need to obtain Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certification. These certifications cover the fundamentals of utilizing Google services and apps in the classroom, making them must-know content for folks looking to coach current educators on implementation best practices.

Many Certified Coach candidates already possess these certifications. It is recommended that you double-check these credentials while working through the Certified Coach curriculum so that a current proof of completion can be added to your Coaching portfolio in a later step.

Also, obtaining Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certifications is neither a prerequisite for starting the Certified Coach program, nor a prerequisite for taking the Coach Skills assessment. However, they are highly recommended because they offer a solid foundation of knowledge that the Coach curriculum focuses on and the Coach Skills test assesses. In any case, you will need proof of both certifications when it comes time to submit your final Coaching portfolio.

Step 3 – Pass the Coach Skills Assessment

After completing the Certified Coach curriculum, certification candidates must successfully pass the Coach Skills assessment. This exam is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the Certified Coach curriculum, including its 5-step coaching cycle.

As with most Google certification exams, the precise content of this test can change from instance to instance. However, it is always made up of around 45 questions, which candidates have 45 minutes to complete. Candidates will need to score an 80% or better to pass, with results provided instantly.

At this time, there is no cost to take this exam. As such, candidates are encouraged to retake the exam if they do not successfully pass it on their first attempt.

Step 4 – Submit a Coaching Portfolio

After passing the Coach Skills assessment, certification candidates will be required to submit a Coaching portfolio that provides evidence to implementation of curricular content in the field.

In particular, this portfolio must include a short video and three artifacts that demonstrate the candidate’s implementation of the 5-step coaching cycle and other curricular elements in a real-life coaching scenario. These items must also be accompanied by a letter of reference supplied by an administrator or other advisor that is familiar with the candidate’s coaching work.

After these elements are all compiled, they must be submitted to Google for final approval. Upon review and acceptance, Google will issue all relevant certification credentials, as well as information about maintaining Certified status on an annual basis.

Supporting your Google Certification Journey

Throughout your professional learning journey, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is here to support you as you strive to make high-quality technology coaching available to more educators. Currently, we offer a variety of webinars and networking meetings that can help you build the knowledge and connections you need to thrive in the field.

As a Google Cloud Partner, we also routinely offer training opportunities centered on Google’s latest products and services. We can even help you or the teachers you work with earn a Google Educator certification.

Schools and districts interested in adding an instructional technology coach to their team can also find support through the LTC. Through a unique cost-sharing model, we are currently offering institutions an opportunity to hire their own embedded instructional technology support through our Instruction Technology Coaching Program.

Looking to Learn More about Becoming a Google Certified Coach?

Several members of the LTC team – myself included – have recently completed the Google Certified Coach Program. If you have questions about the program or you’re interested in learning more about my experience, you can contact me, Elizabeth Byam, at ebyam@ltcillinois.org.