Inspired by parents who were teachers, 21 year teaching veteran Kaye Rueschhoff has worked relentlessly to bring herself up to speed in the constantly evolving digital world. Kaye recently shared with us some amazing ways she’s integrating coding across content areas, and this week we are honored to feature her as our Teacher of the Week!
Congratulations on being chosen as teacher of the week! Can you start off by telling us a little about your teaching background and how technology has worked its way into what you do?
I am the daughter of retired teachers so education has been a huge part of my life. I grew up in a small Missouri town where the school was the center of our world. When I went away to college, teaching was not my first career choice. However, after many detours and 20 years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Technology has been an evolution for me. Our district became a “bring your own device” school a few years ago and I decided to learn everything I could about the devices and the technology in the world to support them. I wanted my students to have the most cutting edge information and curriculum support possible, which meant that I had to learn everything I could and very quickly. I have attended every workshop, conference, and professional development opportunity possible in order to make that happen.
What do you love most about teaching?
I have spent most of my teaching career as a first grade educator. I love the evolution that happens with 6 and 7 year old children as they learn to read and experience many new things and topics for the first time. The challenge of finding the best way to teach and reach each individual student is one I take very seriously. I love learning how they learn and then adapting my teaching style in order to ensure their success.
Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn how to code and develop 21st century technology skills?
Coding and computer skills is the world of these students, especially first graders. They don’t know a world without these devices. It is very important for them to know how the devices work in order to problem solve how to fix errors and navigate situations when the software or device does not work correctly. Many of the careers and future opportunities for current students have not even been invented yet, but coding and computer science skills will always be an asset for these children.
What is one of the most exciting things you have seen happen with coding in your classroom?
I have students in my class this year that have parents that don’t speak English at home. These students struggle with every other subject in school and often feel defeated. They are smart kids that just don’t get the practice in English needed to keep up with their peers. Coding is something that they are successful with. They are the leaders and helpers during our computer science time and anytime we are using technology. This is a universal language that builds self-esteem for these kids and helps them learn in all of the other subject areas.
What are some challenges you have had implementing coding in your school?
My administration supports this type of learning as long as I integrate it with other subject areas and show learning growth.
What is one coding goal you have as an instructor?
I would like to learn to code on my own. I have started several coding classes, but it requires much more time than I can give. When I was able to take classes, however, I was a better teacher because it helped me understand some of the foundation behind the coding programs and the language used. For my career, my dream would be to be part of a computer science school in our school district.
We have to ask: How do you make time to take care of yourself during the school year?
When I am not at school, I am usually in the gym.
What do you think is the most important thing for kids to take away from their education?
I want these students to never stop learning. I want them to realize that boredom is a choice and there is always something new to discover. Even though we can find out most everything we need to know on the internet, there is always something to be gained from human interaction and discussion. Ideas are powerful and should be used to good.
Lastly, what do you like to do for fun outside of teaching?
I love to learn about technology and new gadgets. I LOVE sports and watch football, hockey, and baseball. I am in the gym or Zumba class daily. Shopping is my sport.