Who will teach #CS4All?

Today I responded on Facebook to a post in the CS Education Discussion Forum about who are the teachers in the #CS4All initiative in NY. Just in case you are a first time visitor and have not heard, #CS4All will bring computer science to all of NYC public schools in a 10 year period.

The post on Facebook questions who will teach this subject? and offers some challenges for implementation.  #CS4All is set to prepare 5,000 teachers over the next 10 years (along with other things) for the challenge of teaching computer science in K-12. The blog post that was shared contains a number of links to other articles and highlights some of the challenges in NYC.  My response is here:

Thanks Nathaniel for commenting! Adam, I work with CSNYC so perhaps I can help answer your question. Yes, we are retraining a large number of excellent teachers to ALSO teach computer science in addition to their primary subject of certification. No, a majority of CS teachers in the city will not have a full degree in CS, and we will not be actively recruiting a large number of professionals to change careers to teaching (although a few of our programs rely on volunteers as a part of the model to supplement or improve teacher knowledge).

We are in a chicken and egg situation. The announcement came out and there are not a lot of details, except in our 2 years of experience with specific programs (although the announcement does not explicitly state those programs will be used in the new initiative, we are absolutely including them in our considerations). Now that the announcement has been made, and $$ committed – we can begin the hard work of implementation, which of course starts with planning. Planning for curriculum, planning for PD, planning for preservice (to help fill the gaps as teacher retirement and attrition happens), planning for evaluation, and planning for research.

Over the past two years we have worked with programs who have supported teachers of all subjects (Math, History, Art, Science, Technology) as they take the courageous leap to add new skills to their practice, and open themselves to additional topics that will be used to evaluate their performance. Almost all of our programs see the initial PD as a starting point, and almost all of our teachers engage with numerous ongoing opportunities to deepen their knowledge and enrich their understanding of CS. With no direct pipeline of teachers we need to work with both inservice and preservice folks to get the initiative off the ground. But if you look at our programs you will see that all of them believe in ongoing development to build the professionals with deep content knowledge necessary to teach.

I wanted to also post here since CSNYC is getting similar questions from the larger community. Yes, we are planning to primarily train existing teachers. No, that is not a long term sustainable plan which is why we are also working with pre-service programs and will have more news about programs before too long. Yes, we feel its important that teachers get a depth of content knowledge. No, we can’t do that all before their first day of class. Yes, we will continue to encourage programs that provide ongoing support, as well as host some of our own such as the Education and Pedagogy Meetups. (Next two in October – sign up!)

Rest assured the ducks analogy is applying here in NY right now.  Feet paddling furiously under water – much more to come as it gets vetted and approved by all collaborating partners. Sign up to “Get Involved” at the bottom of the #CS4All page to keep informed of news as it happens.

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