Don't be overwhelmed! Summer may almost be over but you still have plenty of time to prepare for your upcoming computer science class.
Amidst the buzz of summer activity; grilling outside, family vacation, and maybe some summer school teaching, you may be one of the many educators who also needs to prepare to teach computer science.
The good news is that there is still plenty of time to prepare - no matter if you are teaching several computer science classes, hosting an after-school coding club, or just want to introduce computational thinking to all your classes.
Attend a Conference or Workshop
Gathering with other like-minded educators can be one of the most exciting and informative experiences you can have as a computer science teacher. As a relatively new space in K-12 education, attending a conference can give you an opportunity to explore new ideas, gather a resource list of possible software tools, teaching techniques, and contacts.
While an annual ed tech pilgrimage to ISTE is a summer tradition for many tech educators, not all teachers can make a big conference trip. Smaller local conferences, workshops, ed tech webinars, and intro computer science classes hosted by libraries or local schools can be just as rewarding. Some sites even offer professional development “summer camps” for teachers minus the mosquito bites.
Search your state education and district site for more local and subject specific conferences.
Local Tech Events & Workshops
EDxEDNY - June, New York
Ed Tech Teacher Summer Institutes - June, Boston & San Francisco
Science on the Grand: A STEAM Conference on Inquiry-Based Instruction - July, MI
CUE Rock Star Summer Camp - July-August, California (3 events)
Unconventional Classroom Conferences - year round, Various states
ISTE No Fear Coding Lab - October 6-8, Detroit, MI
HiveSummit (Free Virtual Educational Conference, August 1st)
Network with other educators
Travelling to a workshop or conference is a great way to meet and connect with teachers but the most convenient way to engage with teachers from all over the world is online through social media and digital edu communities (Slack, Twitter hashtags or tweetups, forums, Facebook groups, etc).
The freedom of digital dialogue is perfect for those moments filled with summer activities when you can’t commit too much time but have just enough to start a conversation. The ease of starting a conversation with fellow teachers that can possibly lead to deeper learning offers an alluring alternative to finding answers all on your own.
Tech Edu Communities (Forums, Slack) to join:
Edu/Computer Science Twitter & Tweetups to follow:
Research teacher blogs & podcasts
Summer is a perfect time to read a blog on your tablet or listen to a podcast on your phone while enjoying the weather - or the air conditioning if you’re having a particularly sweltering summer. We have got you started with a list of great education blogs or podcasts and either modeling their style or approaching them for tips.
Starting a blog or being a guest on a podcast can give you the chance to share your experience as a teacher approaching computer science for the first time or discovering the best way to introduce computational thinking to all of your classes. You may end up helping a teacher who is searching for the same answers you were.
Edu Tech Blogs (and other topics):
Edu Tech Podcasts:
Tech Educator Podcast
Every Classroom Matters
The Bradley Brothers Edchat
Talks with Teachers
ASCD Learn Teach Lead Radio
The Cult of Pedagogy
10 Minute Teacher
Education Podcast Network
The House of #Edtech
Play with tech
The best way to get a handle on a new subject is diving right in and playing with the resources and tools you plan to test out. Talk with your school’s tech department to get ideas and explore all the options at your school.
Another great way to test your computer science teaching skills is to contact parents of former or current students to do a small trial run. This would also be a great way to share introductory computer science concepts with kids in your own family or a friend’s children while also learning concepts yourself. Don’t wait too late into the end of summer break to test run various programs - learning new concepts and a new program will pay dividends as you enter the school year.
Relax and Recharge!
It’s your time to take a break and recharge your mind and body. You want to go back to the classroom ready to share your enthusiasm with your students and learn with them. If you’re completely new to computer science you probably won’t learn everything you want to in one summer, but you don’t have to. Just start with one attainable goal to accomplish during the summer and extend that goal back into your class (“I want to learn three computer science concepts during the summer; I’ll then share those concepts I learned with my students”). Once your back in the class you can also give your students a class wide goal to accomplish.
Remember to approach your own learning and preparation like you would teach computer science or any new concept to your students; Don’t overwhelm, cover the basics, engage and collaborate with others, and set an end goal.
Even though you can start preparing for your class during the summer, there will always be something new to learn in computer science. Even if it is your first school year teaching computer science concepts - you can do it! Reach out to fellow teachers at your school or others in your district who can help. Plus, there is an endless source of teachers to reach out to online that can help.
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