CS Teacher Spotlight - Sandra Geyer from Bowman High School
Sandra Geyer is an 11th and 12th grade teacher at Bowman High School. After teaching Exploring Computer Science for the first time last year, Sandra gained the confidence to teach Computer Science Principles this year. With growing momentum for computer science at her school, Sandra also looks forward to starting a Girls Who Code club in the coming years. Sandra gave us some wonderful insight on her experiences teaching computer science.
What brought you to the intersection of computer science and education?
I attended the CUE conference in Spring 2016 and became convinced that I needed to bring CS to Bowman. I did not want my students to be left behind! Also, I met up at the conference with other teachers in my district that were going to start teaching AP Computer Science Principles (APCSP). They convinced me that I would be able to teach it! We have been meeting and have collaborated in developing the course. We all use the Code.org curriculum.
What's the general context of computer science at your school?
I teach Computer Science Principles (CSP) and Web design with HTML and CSS. Additionally, we have a new STEM lab. The District in which I teach has supported pathways in CS that begins in junior high with Exploring Computer Science (ECS) and then in high school with AP CSP and other courses including java and app development. The District has CTE grant funding that supports the CS pathways.
What's the significance of teaching this course for you?
I believe very strongly that my students need to be exposed to the fundamentals of computer science. I am a computer teacher, the only computer teacher in the school, and I am absolutely committed to preparing my students for future careers and teaching them digital literacies they need to be successful. My school is a continuation high school so there are some challenges, but nothing that can't be overcome.
Do you have any notable student experiences from teaching a computer science course?
Towards the end of the semester while I was teaching Unit 3, one of my students Julieana said, “Sandy, I got it all by myself,” and her smile and confidence were just stunning. She was just so thrilled with her new programming skills and understanding. Also, collaboration is really at the center of the Code.org curriculum; I enjoy seeing my students collaborating and thinking outside the box. I love the synergy.
What are some challenges you've faced teaching a computer science course?
The biggest challenge is that so much of the curriculum, the concepts and programming are mostly new to me. I spend a lot of time preparing for the class. Also, I teach one class so I don't feel as if I ever perfect a lesson.
What are some tips you would give to other new or even current CS educators?
- Definitely get involved and sign up for professional development opportunities like the PDs through 9 Dots.
Definitely work and collaborate with other teachers in person or online.
Definitely make time in your schedule for prep.
Definitely jump in and be brave! The Code.org curriculum is fantastic and highly recommended.
Sandra - thank you for providing us insight into your experience!