Meet 2019-20 CSTA Equity Fellow Michelle G. Lee.
In today’s CSTA Equity Fellow Spotlight, we’d like you to meet Michelle G. Lee a CS Specialist at San Francisco Unified School District in San Francisco, California. Lee is partnering with fellow CSTA Equity Fellow Shana White to develop a K-8 curriculum that is anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-patriarchy, and pro-LGBTQ+ based on CSTA Educator and K-12 CS student standards. We’ll learn more about their project in the coming weeks.
Five Questions with Michelle G. Lee
What do you hope to achieve as a CSTA Equity Fellow?
Sometimes when people find out that I’m a computer science teacher for elementary school they’re surprised, and they’re even more surprised when they find out that we’re developing a curriculum for early childhood/pre-Kindergarten. What I hope to bring to the CSTA Equity Fellowship is an awareness that computer science, beginning at the very earliest of stages, is a worthwhile investment that they’ll see in middle school, high school, and beyond.
Can you describe how you’ve disrupted inequities in your classroom?
It may seem at a shallow level but I think just me existing as a computer science teacher is a part of disrupting the narrative of who can do computer science and who can teach computer science as a woman, as a person of color. I think showing up in the classrooms and letting kids know that this is something that they can do is really important. But that is something that I’ve just had to show up and do a lot of work with. So for me disrupting inequity is bringing my full self into the classroom and to create an atmosphere where students can do the same.
How did you get involved in teaching computer science?
This is my 11th year as an elementary school educator and after a teacher for K-5, every grade except for 2nd, for eight years. I was curious about what I could do next, and I attended a PD that was entitled, “How to Teach Computer Science”, and I was thinking, okay, I’m going to go and I’m going to learn how to teach computer science to my first graders. Little did I know the event was a recruitment event and the activities that they really piqued my interest. I felt really successful doing unplugged activities. I did an introduction to Scratch activities, and I was like, wow, this is a thing, and I think that I can do this. So I put in an application that afternoon and here I am!
What does equity in CS mean to you?
To me, equity is addressing head on a long history of systemic and internal oppression that has been not only in the computer science space but in other facets of our society. So I think, for me, what equity in computer science is doing is deep restorative justice work to write a path that is part of a larger goal for many of us.
Why should others consider teaching computer science?
I don’t know about you but I came into the teaching profession to make the world a better place. One student, one class, one school at a time. And if you want to make that important difference in an equitable way, computer science is a space where you can make a huge difference. Computer science gives kids an outlet to be creative, to have their voice shared with a large platform, and to make changes within their community, within their country, within our world. So would you like to be a part of that? I did.