The Greater Houston Chapter of CSTA partners with educators and administrators across the area to educate, empower, and inspire K-12 teachers and advocates to realize the vision of computer science (CS) for all.
Bradley Quentin is a teacher at Sinclair Elementary School in Houston Independent School District (HISD). He currently teaches STEM Lab, which he created at the school nine years ago for Pre-K through 5th grade students.   Prior to his time at Sinclair, Mr. Quentin taught as Milam Elementary and Stevenson Elementary (both in HISD).  In his 23 years of teaching, he has taught 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and math/science in 4th and 5th grades.
We caught up with Bradley to hear about his experiences as a teacher working in CS, his perspective on education, and the importance of teaching CS in schools.
CSTA Greater Houston Teacher Spotlight Series: Bradley Quentin
CSTA Greater Houston: What inspired you to work in STEM/CS education?
Bradley Quentin: “When I started teaching at Sinclair, I had spent many years teaching in a departmentalized situation and I was increasingly frustrated by the constraints a rigid rotation schedule put on my planning. I was trying to use more project-based learning but found it tough to do when I only had 90 minutes with a class. At Sinclair I got the chance to return to a self-contained classroom and was free to implement cross-curricular projects. I was still teaching 3rd grade when I heard about Hour of Code (HoC). I looked into it, and it sounded interesting, so I did it with my class that year. The kids really enjoyed the HoC tutorial and asked if we could do more coding. After that year’s Hour of Code, I got an email about a teacher training in Houston which I attended. There I learned about the curriculum and, more importantly, about Scratch. Both became part of my class. The combination of CS and project-based learning in my class is part of what led my principal at the time to convert our traditional science lab into a STEM lab.”
CSTA Greater Houston: Do you have a student success story you'd like to share?
Bradley Quentin: “When I first started using Scratch with my 3rd grade students it was a workstation that students rotated through during the math block. Students did not get any direction about what to make. Rather, I let them explore and try things out. This led to a large number of projects filled with rainbow cats meowing and spinning in circles. One day a student called me over to see what she had made. It was an animated scene from the book she was reading. That was the moment when I fully realized the power of computer programming as a tool for students to share their thoughts and ideas and to show what they have learned.”
CSTA Greater Houston: What advice would you give a teacher new to teaching computer science/STEM?
Bradley Quentin: “Do not be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know’ when a student asks a question you cannot answer. As a beginning teacher not knowing something a student might ask was one of my greatest fears. When I started teaching CS and STEM, I began to understand that getting to say that I do not know something is a precious opportunity to guide students through a problem-solving process. Students asking questions I cannot answer means they are pushing themselves and embracing a challenge. Now I look forward to getting to say, ‘I don’t know, let’s figure it out together.’”
CSTA Greater Houston: Why should teachers join the CSTA Greater Houston network?
Bradley Quentin: “The best professional development is teachers talking to other teachers. Through CSTA Greater Houston I have met and had the opportunity to learn from some of the best teachers in our area. Particularly at the elementary level, being the CS/STEM teacher can be a bit isolating because no one else on your campus teaches what you teach. CSTA makes it possible to connect with and be inspired by like-minded teachers within your district and beyond it.”
CSTA Greater Houston: Thank you for your time and contributions to teaching CS and STEM, Mr. Quentin.