Karen Fleming

Karen Fleming
Keble Preparatory School
North London, UK

The teacher who isn’t afraid to change a class at a moment’s notice in order to promote experimentation.

Karen Fleming is a middle school teacher at the all boys Keble Preparatory School in North London. She teaches computer science and technology and is the director of digital learning, working with other teachers to incorporate technology into their lessons.

Karen has been teaching for nearly 30 years and still remembers the impact her teachers had on her:

“When I was growing up, certain teachers seemed to make such a massive difference to whether I liked the subject or whether I understood it. They were really good teachers who inspired me’’

The most rewarding part of Karen’s job is when a student’s face lights up as they make connections and understand what she has taught them.

Karen says that her teaching for her is also a lot of fun, because every day is different.

“You can begin a lesson and end up changing parts of it at a moment’s notice off the back of someone sharing a brilliant idea with you.”

She says a big part of a teacher's life is flexibility and adaptability and she urges other teachers to avoid feeling frightened to adapt lessons to reflect the class. It’s important to maintain the same concept but approach it from a different angle, based on the needs of the students.

Karen believes that studying STEAM subjects teaches students many skills including problem solving, independent thinking, project management skills and more. She adds that students learn how to truly stick to something and develop a try-again attitude that can then lead into other subjects.

“Failure isn’t a problem, it’s just a design flaw that you can change and adapt and then try again.”

However, according to Karen, teachers need a lot more training when it comes to coding, and this is one of the reasons that she likes SAM Labs.

“Direct curriculum support, coming into classrooms and schools and doing demos and training - this has a huge impact.”

Karen’s students love coding. According to her, they love the moment when they figure out how something works after getting it wrong. They get addicted to that sense of achievement so they want to do it again. However for those students who might not be interested at first, Karen has a few tricks up her sleeve:

“Make it look very practical and relate it to everyday situations. You can do short skills-based lessons and talk them through different hardware blocks or software blocks and things they can do with them. Then when you start doing long-term projects like board games, it works better if you tie it into their everyday experiences.”

Karen’s students find SAM Labs very easy to use and explore, They really enjoy it because it uses a very physical approach, it’s easy to demonstrate and they like experimenting.

“We are trying to promote a culture in the school where the boys experiment and explore and don’t wait for you to tell them what to do. Just try - what do you think you can do with it. We’re trying to get them not to rely on us all the time to give them ideas.”

Karen says she would recommend SAM Labs products to primary and secondary school teachers and adds that if a teacher has a large class and the students work in groups, it’s perfect for them. She also recommends SAM Labs to anyone who would like to teach physical programming because SAM Labs is really flexible.

“While it’s may seem like it’s just a block, you can place it into so many different projects and children can keep creating. It’s not just a single build object that you build and that’s it and where you can’t do anything else.’’

In the future, Karen will be continuing to inspire kids to discover coding and creating with SAM Labs. She will sustain her focus on embedding technology to everyday lessons to ensure her students receive the best possible education that will provide them with the skills they need for the future.