Blog Post

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: VANESSA JONES

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Each month, we highlight a member of the CS for All Teachers community.

Vanessa Jones

 

Vanessa Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name: 

Vanessa Jones

Occupation: 

Technology Design Coach

Workplace: 

Austin Independent School District-Austin, Texas

Years in education: 27

Years teaching computer science: 7
 

TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)

What interests you about CS?

My interests in computer science stems along the line of advocating for awareness and access to computer science for teachers and students. I have always been a creative innovator who loves to share ideas, resources and experience a variety of different learning opportunities.

How did you start teaching CS? Do you have a background in CS?

Before becoming a facilitator for the Code.org professional development programs, I had no computer science background besides the times I experimented with Lego Robotics in my elementary classrooms. My passion for computer science grew to advocacy after I attended my first computer science professional development provided by Code.org. I remember applying to learn and share that knowledge with other teachers only as an avenue to further my personal professional development learning opportunities, skills and knowledge. I was scared of the unknown, but excited at the same time. I became so excited after about five minutes in the professional development facilitated by Code.org. It was truly not all about math and or science...etc. It was clearly about teaching students how to think and problem solve which was something I had done all of my teaching career.

 

CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY

How do you get other teachers, administrators, and community members excited about CS?

One of my advocacy goals is to bring awareness of computer science to students, parents, and teachers. Another goal is to make sure students have the opportunity to learn the basics in computer science. Students do not have to become computer science programmers or engineers; they just need to know the basics of how a computer works. Students have devices and students are using those devices, but students do not know how those devices work. Students do not know the Black Box Theory of how a computer functions. My motto for years has been to “Learn Something New EVERYDAY and then SHARE IT!” I also believe that for in order for learning to take place some type of change must occur. I believe in learning and adapting to the needs of both teachers and students is so important in meeting the needs of all of our stakeholders.

What excites you most about the current state of CS education in the US?

What excites me the most is change. As a nation, we are moving the needle forward. If you look at the statistics 7 years ago and compare them to what is happening now in CS, you would see that there has been a computer science movement. There are more girls and minority students taking the CS AP exams. More states have standardized computer science at all grade levels and have also created pathways for those grades levels. More women are being employed into the computer science workplace. This is a huge gain because although there is a surge, there still is a shortage of women in the computer science industry.

What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?

I most enjoy the collaboration with other CS for All Teachers and looking at the different resources that we create and share as a professional learning community.

Besides the CS for All Teachers community of practice, what is your favorite CS tool or resource?

I love Code.org resources. First of all they are all free. The content is easily adaptable to allow teachers to personalize and differentiate the learning for their students. And did I say it is a K-12 FREE curriculum framework of computer science concepts and skills and knowledge.

What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?

My advice that I would give to potential CS educators, especially those that will be teaching in our current reality is to make sure you come to this specialized profession with an open mindset. The mindset of the learner must constantly change to equip the teacher and the students in meeting the needs of all students. It is important that all involved know that there is a shift in the learning from face to face to online learning. There are also many misconceptions that virtual and hybrid learning is easier and less time consuming than a face to face learning environment. Most of us quickly learned that that statement is really false! You have to be very disciplined and know how to manage your time in a virtual learning environment. It is so easy to get behind in a virtual learning environment. Teachers have to also have the knowledge and management skills to make sure they are moving everyone along at different paces sometimes. They also have to be mindful in not having lurkers or students that take over the learning in activities and discussions. Teachers have to be capable of responding in a virtual environment as well as giving everyone an equal voice in the learning and in the virtual learning environment that will be created. Although there are emoticons to indicate voice and tone in a virtual environment, there has to be netiquette and expectations established for all.

 

TELL US MORE!

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

My work with Code.org and Intel Education were my proudest moments in being both a learner and a facilitator. I always instilled in all of my professional learning opportunities that we are "all teachers, but most importantly we are all learners also" also.

Write a short poem describing what teaching CS is like or what CS means to you:

I love to have my teachers and students write 6 Word Memoirs.

So here is mine: 

Equity in Computer Science means #CSforallstudents 

What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?

Pre-Covid I would relax and recharge by giving both of my dogs birthday parties on their birthday as well as I would take cruises each year to places on my bucket list for my birthday