Tynker Teacher Feature: 5 Observations from Educator Beth Austin!

Last Updated: February 23, 2017 3:43 pm
Tynker Teacher Feature: 5 Observations from Educator Beth Austin!

Tynker Teacher Feature: 5 Observations from Educator Beth Austin! 

In our new blog series, we feature Tynker Teachers who are moving coding forward in their school district.

Our first Tynker Teacher is Beth Austin, a 1st grade teacher in Gurnee School District 56 in Illinois. We got a chance to observe her with her students, play with some Parrot Drones, and ask her about her experiences with coding in the classroom.

First of all, who are you and where do you teach?

My name is Beth Austin. I have been a first grade teacher at Spaulding Elementary School in Gurnee, IL for 11 years. For the past 4 years, I have had an ESL classroom. I made the transition from the corporate world into teaching. My passion is for each of my students to be connected to and engaged in their learning. I also strive to create a safe learning environment that cultivates creativity.

Miss Austin in her element.

Beth Austin in her element

Why do you think coding is an important skill to have these days? Should all kids be coding?

There are several reasons that coding is an important skill. First, coding is a universal language. It breaks barriers in cultures and allows the students to interact with one another in a common area. Second, with the gamification of learning, jobs in the coding field are rapidly growing and being unfulfilled. Third, coding requires higher-level thinking and provides the opportunity to collaborate. I do believe that all kids should be coding. It allows students to become problem solvers and learn perseverance. It also promotes creativity and another opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in the classroom.

What coding tools do your kids prefer?

Most of my students prefer Tynker over other tools. They like the games and the challenge that Tynker provides.

When kids are using Tynker, they are very vocal. What are some of the things you’ve heard them say while coding?

I hear comments such as: 

“Yes, I mastered that level!”

“How did you figure that out?”

“Check this out!” “Did you know…?”

“I can explain that.”

“I knew you could move through that!”

Growth mindset is a big deal these days. Do you think these skills help support a growth mindset?

Yes, I do believe that these skills support growth mindset. The students overcome challenges and obstacles. They feel successful and motivated to accept new material.

What do you have to say to other teachers who might be trepidatious about teaching coding at such a young age?

I must admit that originally I was one of those teachers. I had a hard time initially determining how I was going to integrate coding into my day. It was a learning curve, but when I stepped out of the way and let my students “play and learn” as well as become peer teachers, I realized the potential of coding and the power it could add to the classroom.


Thanks so much sharing your thoughts and expertise with us today, Beth! Good luck as you continue to take those next steps with coding in 1st grade!

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About Daniel Rezac

Daniel Rezac is the Head of Education Partnerships at Tynker. He's been a science teacher, a technology coach, STEAM Coordinator, and school Tech Director working with students from Pre-K to adults. Feel free to reach out to him at daniel [at] tynker.com.