Posted: Fri, 01/29/2021 - 3:59 pm EST
Each month, we highlight a member of the CS for All Teachers community.
Middle School Computer Science Teacher
Years in education: 20
Years teaching computer science: 10
TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)
What interests you about CS?
I love the problem solving inherent in CS. There is something so exciting about writing code and putting all the pieces together to create something new or to solve a problem.
How did you start teaching CS? Do you have a background in CS?
I have been interested in CS for as long as I can remember! My earliest memories of programming include the fun I had with the Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 purchased for me by my father and programming a Logo turtle during an enrichment class in elementary school. Always interested in the math and sciences, I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a focus on research and data analysis. After having worked as a data analyst for a marketing company, and enjoying training my colleagues on our systems, I decided that the education field might be something I should explore. I was hired as a tech coordinator/computer lab supervisor at an elementary school and discovered that I loved training teachers and working in the school environment. I completed a Master's Degree in Educational Technology Leadership and began to teach. Since then, the nature of the "tech teacher" role has evolved into "CS teacher" and I couldn't be any happier!
How have your CS students inspired you? What is your favorite CS project you have completed with your students?
My students inspire me every day! I am energized when my students feel successful in completing projects and proud of being able to write code to create something new. One recent mini-project I enjoyed completing with my students is a p5.js assignment I titled "Joybots". Students practiced using arrays and random functions to create a program that combined inspirational photos and phrases. These were randomly generated each time the program was run and were then made available for anyone who needed a pick-me-up! They enjoyed the activity and appreciated the playful side of computer science.
How do you recruit students into your CS classes?
I am so fortunate to teach in a school with required CS classes. I view my role as a CS teacher as being one that empowers all my students to feel confident in their abilities to write code or to find their own personal connection to CS.
CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY
How do you get other teachers, administrators, and community members excited about CS?
I let the work of my students shine through! I use any opportunity to showcase my students' work with others in my school or community. My students' creativity never ceases to amaze me and others.
What excites you most about the current state of CS education in the US?
I love that there are so many resources and opportunities for ALL teachers to bring elements of CS into their classrooms, regardless of their grade or subject matter. At a time when we as a country recognize the value of teaching computer science, it is important that all of our students are able to experience the joys of computing. I am also excited by the really great work that is happening in the early grades, setting up the foundation for our students at a young age.
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
I have greatly enjoyed working with such a talented group of educators and CS rockstars! I am also honored to have the opportunity to continue to grow this network of CS teachers across the country through this vibrant virtual community. I strongly believe in the power of collaboration and that we are all truly better together.
Besides the CS for All Teachers community of practice, what is your favorite CS tool or resource?
Twitter! I actively engage on Twitter and connect with other CS teachers around the world. There is always so much to learn from others.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?
Tap into what excites you the most about CS and let that be your guide. If you focus on your own interests and strengths, you will naturally engage your students. I would also add to grow and rely on your network of fellow CS teachers, you are never alone!
TELL US MORE!
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I am proud of the decision I made years ago to begin teaching CS. I took a big leap by switching careers and by trying something so out of my comfort zone and I have never looked back! I try to keep this spirit in my mind each day as I continue to challenge myself by learning something new and continually trying to improve as an educator.
Write a short poem describing what teaching CS is like or what CS means to you:
Let's learn and create
CS is for you
What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?
I am a huge fan of unwinding with a crossword puzzle at the end of a long day. I also find being with my family, spending time outdoors, watching movies together, and playing games to be just what I need to recharge.