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Q&A with Amy Tyler, Summer Institute Participant

August 27, 2020

Amy Tyler, a Technology Technician at Oak Hill Middle School, reflects on her experience with the Summer Institute. 

1. Could you share your teaching background and why you were initially interested in participating in the Professional Development?

Amy: I have been a Technology Technician for nine years in my district. I am not in a classroom teaching every day, but I am working with teachers and students with STEM activities. I want to bring and support more Computer Science opportunities to my district. I will start with after-school activities in hopes to bring it into the regular educational day.

2. What can other teachers expect when they attend a summer institute? What were your highlights?

Amy: People can expect to connect and have a firm knowledge with to get started with teaching this curriculum. The first day was rough, but it got better the second day. Our trainers were very personable and upbeat. It was the main reason that I kept coming back. The sense of community and people that are there to help support us on our journey. Not just for the week, but for the duration of our school year. 

3. How much do you need to know about Computer Science before attending the summer institute?

Amy: You do not need to have a degree in coding, nor do you need to learn how to program HTML or javascript. These lessons are intended for you to support your students' journey in learning and not to feel like you have to take a few college courses to understand the end goal. We went through certain lessons so that we could learn as a student and it showed some of the hurdles some kids might have.

4. Which Computer Science courses did you implement at your school? How was the curriculum helpful?

Amy: We will be doing an after school model in my district in hopes that we will be able to implement it into the regular school day. We have not planned all that we are going to do with the students yet, but we are wanting to make sure that we are also prepared for any changes to the class model with the current situation. 

5. Would you encourage other schools to implement Computer Science courses? What would you suggest as the first steps?

Amy: I would highly suggest  taking this course. There are so many aspects that have been included with that I never would have dreamed of knowing before taking this course. I was able to make new connections with people locally and from other regions so that I have someone to talk to and know that I am not alone in this journey. 

6. How do you (or will you) stay connected with other Computer Science teachers in Maine?

Amy: On the last day I got email addresses of the other people that were in my regional group. We plan to meet once a month and talk about our experiences with this class and how it is working or what we needed to change for it to work for us. 

7. Do you have any other comments or suggestions for Maine teachers?

Amy: Today's world is congested with electronic portable devices. is a program that students should have and be able to experience. This is not just about HTML and Javascript, it is so much more. This program opens the door for students that don't really understand coding, robotics, web design and app creations. I often find that kids hear about it and really don't know what it is and so they do not want to attend. This is something that can be used in any classroom, not just a Unified Arts program, or after school activity. This can also be used in Writing, Reading, Math, History and any other core class that is at your school. It is definitely worth every penny in my opinion. The course may not be free, but all of the materials are!

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