In the classroom with Coach Tee

When we last spoke to Coach Tee, she was in the middle of our training for the 2017-18 school year. After Spring Break, we visited her classroom to see student learning in action as they worked through Computer Science Discoveries Unit 3 – Animations and Games.

Coach Tee is a bit of a superhero. She runs Book Club, Robotics Club, STEM Bicycle Club, and Media Club. She serves as an academic advisor for student-athletes, and assistant coaches the girls basketball team. To top it all off, she co-founded Sisterhood 360 and runs N.E.R.D.S. – both are non-profits serving youth in the Cincinnati community. Then there’s her main job: technology teacher at R. A. Taft Information Technology Middle School in Cincinnati, Ohio.

We spoke to Coach Tee a few months ago, and she described herself as a lifelong learner. She’s got a handful of degrees, from analytical chemistry to an M.Ed. She doesn’t have a background in computer science – she’s learning right alongside her students and the teacher cohort.

Like any great coach, she focuses on more than just the game at hand. She helps athletes develop skills that they can apply to their entire lives. She does the same for her students through

Throughout the class, she peppers in “Coach Tee-isms.”  When students come into class, Tee has the “Do Now” already laid out for them. Students work on this task to begin the class while Tee circulates, at times cheerfully calling out uniform policy violations – “I don’t make the rules, I just follow them!”

After that, they start into the curriculum as a class. As some students work ahead of others, she encourages students to pair up to answer questions together before calling her over. She calls this “being a GPS” for each other.

D'Shawn Siler works with Coach Tee

“Are you driving?” she asked a student who had his hands on another’s keyboard. “You can’t drive. You can navigate though!”

Jahnasia Robinson and Kenaysha Minter collaborate using the Game LabThe curriculum makes computer science fun and accessible in the classroom, but connecting with other teachers made a big difference. By training with other teachers across Ohio, the cohort could do more together than they could on their own.

“We have this Google shared drive where someone else put together slides of the different units,” said Tee. “So, they shared them with everyone, and we all take them and modify them to fit [our classroom].”

Coach Tee and Saniah Dowling post for a photo between bells

With Tee as the lead learner and everyone working together, students seem to really take to the class.

“I like it because it’s challenging,” said 7th grader Saniah Dowling. “It’s easy at first, and then it starts getting hard.”

An expert coach and a veteran educator, Tee takes her students to the next level with the curriculum.

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