Instructional Lead Teacher in Technology at Whitehall ES, Prince George's County
I can't really take credit for the meandering journey that currently finds me working within tech/CS. The brain that I inherited just happens to have a hard time accepting things 'as is'. One size definitely doesn't fit all, but even if it did, I'm sure I'd find a reason to change/mod/adapt it. Tech just happens to be the tool that has been most handy in my general dissatisfaction with the status quo.
In my 20 years of teaching, I've always tried to maximize time with students by minimizing those less-than-fun administrative duties that any teacher would collectively groan about. Early on, it was simply using Microsoft Word to deviate from bland, scripted curriculum, resources, and assignments, which evolved to getting more interested in the design elements of papers that would better guide kids. A big change came along when I discovered the unequivocal magic of spreadsheets (nerd alert!). With that came the swoon-worthy beauty of spreadsheet formulas and ultimately learning to craft my own scripts and embrace the power of coding.
But again, this journey was all SELF-propelled by curiosity, resourcefulness, and an obsession with efficiency. That is to say that my "teacher heart" was perhaps a tad indignant that these simple tech tools and skills were never introduced to me within the world of education. And the more I taught and interacted with both students and teachers, the more I realized that they didn't know about them either. So I shifted from a full-time classroom Related Language Arts and Social Studies teacher to taking on a role that straddles the line between admin and teaching (Instructional Lead Teacher) by guiding teachers to better integrate tech in the classroom while also teaching those students as their tech teacher. Wanting to make a bigger impact, I got involved outside of my school to help integrate computer science into elementary schools in Maryland because the future is calling and there simply aren't enough teachers heeding that call (to no fault of their own).
I am proud to have been a part of several projects that went beyond the classroom walls.
- ECSNet, which understands that computer science (CS) will likely not be a standalone subject, so it provides cross curricular lessons for non-CS teachers that include CS skills and standards.
- Maryland CS Standards Annotations, which helps make sense of computer science standards for any teacher who might be lucky or ambitious enough to teach CS to elementary school students but not know much about it at all.
- K-5 CS Skills Progressions "Tool", which helps teachers further understand the associated components and skills within the CS standards and how they look across the grade levels.
The reality is that we can't leave discovering the awesome world of CS to chance. While my brain and my journey certainly let me grow in a unique way, I would have been very grateful had someone been there to open the door to that world long ago. Look no further than the world around us and the device you're reading these very words on to understand the need and urgency. So… be curious, be dissatisfied, be excited or just be a cheerleader, but above all, be involved in sharing the CS love.
Brains everywhere will thank you!