#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · Computer Science · inspiration · K-12 Influencers · STEM · Technology · women who reign

K-12 Influencers: Kaitie O’Bryan

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”  -Albert Einstein

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am a math and computer science teacher at Mounds View High School, in Arden Hills, MN. I introduced the first computer science class to the building in 2015 with a group of 20 students and has grown the program to include 100 students the following year. My goal as a teacher is to support collaborative problem solving in all her classes, to provide students opportunities to be creative in class, and to empower all teachers to teach computer science or computational thinking in their classrooms.
Fun fact: I was a math and art major in college.

Favorite website / app:
Twitter! I love learning what others are doing and “meeting” other teachers who are as excited about trying new things in their classrooms as myself.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I have learned a lot from working with Brook Osborne and Baker Franke at code.org. Their approach to equitable CS instruction is really inspiring. My favorite piece of knowledge I have from them is the need to build shared experiences in the classroom. When we give students shared experiences to pull from later on, we give them more equitable footing. While all students come in with a variety of experiences that can serve as a resource for classroom activities, having one shared experience can allow everyone to engage.

I love how this piece of knowledge is also useful when designing PD for teachers. I have been in some fantastic PD and they all start with some sort of shared experience that teachers use as a spring board to jump start the conversation.

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
When I was in college I did not know what I wanted to major in. I had taken a lot of math courses but I honestly did not think I was “smart” enough to be a math major. It was not until I took Introduction to Analysis that I saw math as more of a proof/argument based field that I thought I could actually belong in. Being the fastest math person wasn’t important – it was about creatively applying knowledge to construct new knowledge.

Describe what it means for you to be a K-12 Influencer in STEM.
Teaching can be a very isolating career. It can be hard to find time/people to bounce ideas off of. This is why I believe having a strong community of teachers is important. The Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere was hugely helpful to me my first year teaching. Sam J Shah in NY was so generous with sharing his resources and reflections that I survived my first year teaching thanks to him and his blog. He shared quality, student-centric, resources that were based in discovery and creativity. I was able to build upon those for my classes and curriculum.

With the growth in CS education and the work that organizations like NSF and code.org are doing to prepare and train teachers to teach CS, I think we have a great opportunity to build another community of practice with CS teachers. Because MTBoS was so inspirational to me, I want to support other CS teachers who are new to the field. There is not much research out there for best practices in CS ed which is why it is important for CS teachers to share their own successes and challenges with teaching the content.

What knowledge would you impart to other K-12 Influencers in STEM?
Elevate others’ voices. Sharing your own thoughts is important, but also responding to and engaging with others’ will make our community stronger.

Follow Kaitie on Twitter: @Kaitie_obryan
Check out Blogs: http://steministclassroom.blogspot.com/ and http://iteachcs180.blogspot.com/

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