Training for science teacher to become a *computer* science teacher?
December 4, 2016 5:10 PM   Subscribe

I currently am a high school science teacher working in Chicago. I love my job, but I am frustrated with the complete lack of computer science education at my school and through our entire school district. I know that this is largely due to a lack of qualified professionals who can teach the content. Is there anything like Dev Bootcamp for people who want to teach the material?

I have some exposure to computer science - I used to do evolutionary biology research using genome sequences, and would write basic scripts in PERL to analyze sequences, and chop up and search your everyday comma-separated file. But my skills are beyond rusty, and are well below what I feel like I need to provide good instruction to our students.

I am open to and quite interested in ideas that would involve taking a short break from teaching. After 4 years of 16-hour days, day after day, falling asleep from pure exhaustion at 8pm every night, and spending Sundays and holidays filled with anxiety, I could use a rest. However, I want to spend that year doing something that is obviously building my career in teaching, to ensure that I could easily re-enter. Given that Chicago has just made computer science a requirement, I feel like training in computer science education could be the perfect break.

So there you go - I want immersive, meaningful training in the computer science content knowledge and the pedagory of computer science. I don't want education in how to write lesson plans or manage a classroom, I have plenty of that.

Ideally, I don't want to break the bank, and this would be located in Chicago or have an online component combined with short in-person sessions elsewhere.
posted by thelastpolarbear to Education (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Take a look at Software Carpentry and their associated instructor training. It may not be exactly what you're looking for as a secondary school teacher, but it's close enough and cheap enough to merit exploring.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:18 PM on December 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is sort of an out-of-left-field response, but I have a friend who moved from teaching high school English to running a maker-space. Now he does coding, and robots, and engineering, and design, and puppets, and movie-making...and ZERO GRADING.

He is happier than he's ever been as a teacher. Maker-space and design is a trend that is really hot right now in education, and you could very possibly build this kind of program with the experience you already have. The key is making it FUN.

And he basically taught himself everything he does, which is much more manageable when the kids are small than when they are high-school aged. He wrote a book about activities he does with his students. It's freaking brilliant.

Bonus: it's not leaving teaching. Possible down-side: you'd have to be okay with younger kids. I know I wouldn't be super psyched about that part (and I turned down a similar position to stay in a 7th grade full-time ELA/SS teaching schedule).

Memail me if you would like to talk more about it.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:16 PM on December 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

You might think about joining CSTA and looking into Codio, which I'm pretty sure is free for members.
posted by tangerine at 10:32 PM on December 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found this program online - Our 100 percent online certificate program offers teachers a coherent set of courses that prepare them to teach computer science concepts, including content in the advanced placement courses and pedagogical techniques. College of St Scholastica.

The UChicago STEM Education group doesn't seem to have anything relevant on their site, but given their mission it could be worth contacting them for recommendations.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:23 AM on December 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: exists for this purpose. They have lessons for students as well as teachers.

I occasionally volunteer through to speak to a class about my career and experiences with programming. I think it's a super neat thing, overall.
posted by so fucking future at 7:37 AM on December 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am not the OP, but I am in the same situation. These are great answers, and I am watching carefully and have learned some new resources here. Thank you!
posted by seasparrow at 8:09 AM on December 5, 2016

These aren't exactly answers to your question, but if you can get a sense of the topics and lessons that are generally thought to be a good fit for high school computer science, you might be able to plan your preparation.

Happy Computer Science Education Week!

International Society for Technology in Education - Standards for Computer Science Educators

The Curriculum Revitalization Project - Illinois Career & Technical Education (I was briefly involved with them several years ago as a lesson plan reviewer.) Their site is a navigational mess, but the real meat (sample lesson plans) is behind a paywall at

My opinion is a decent beginning programming/computer science course at a local community college would be useful. Maybe approach the instructor as a fellow professional educator and perhaps they would be willing to share some of their resources and thought processes on pedagogy with you as you go through the material.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:15 AM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

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