During my initial interview (with The Head of School and the Secondary Principal) I was informed that they really wanted someone who was able to teach a computer course. I never said I wouldn’t but I said that it had been a long time since I had worked with a programming language. So when they hired me I was told that I would teach 4 sections of Design Thinking, 1 section of math, and another subject to be decided at a later date.
So, along comes Friday and the subject of computer science comes up. I quickly say that I’m not against teaching computer science; I’m just a little rusty and would have to learn a ton before the students walked into the room. By the end of the conversation I had committed to teaching one section of Computer Science I for 15 to 20 Juniors who had signed up for the course at the end of last school year.
By Saturday morning I realized that being a teacher with experience with Project Based Learning; a teacher open to learning with my students; and, a teacher with a couple of thousand Twitter followers makes me nearly freaking unafraid of anything. I will have “experts” available to help me with this and the 20 of us in that classroom will be going deeper and doing cooler things than your average computer science classroom in this world (insert maniacal laugh).
I was energized, excited, and (to be completely open) a bit terrified. With Saturday being the 4th of July, I decided pursuing this could wait a day or so. Finally, last night (the 5th), I ventured onto Twitter and wrote: ” Any of you at #kidscancode, #EdTechBridge, #DTk12chat have opinions on the language I should use for Comp Sci I class I am putting 2gether?”
Where did I get the hashtags? I went to my first source for all things educational chats – my old friend Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1). I looked through his list of chats to see which ones sounded like they dealt with computer science and/or coding. Then I added my Design Thinking group because they are always working with people in the maker world and coding world. They are just smart folks and know everything about anything.
As I was sending out that tweet I noticed my friend Rafranz Davis was on and so I sent her a note too: “I know you know people who know people…I am putting a Comp Sci class together for HS Jrs. Who should I get to know?”
I was soon exchanging thoughts with Lisa Palmieri (@Learn21Tech) but I had to go so I could watch the Women’s World Cup final which, of course, the US Women’s National Team won. When I got back online 4 hours later I was greeted with a list of people to follow from Josh Gauthier (@Mrgfactoftheday) .
I started conversing with Vicky Sedgwick and was later joined by Melissa Techman ( @mtechman ). Then Lindsay Unland ( @Lindsay_Unland ) suggested that I follow D Martin ( @D_Martin05 ). Vicky followed with a suggestion of Alfred Thompson ( @AlfredTwo , someone I actually have been following for a few years). Alfred came back and sent his list of CS Educators on Twitter – only 290 people on that list (a gold mine!).
In less than 24 hours from the first tweet, I had a list of about 300 people who I could reach out to for help and suggestions in this quest to create a computer science class for this Fall. I am so fortunate to have decided (nearly 8 years ago now) to get on this Twitter thing. I never have to worry about finding help. There are people, much smarter (or, at least, more experienced) than I am. And, they are smart with just about anything I might need help with.
So, I’m going to teach this computer science class – and it’s going to be OK. Follow along for future events in my first year at Meridian School as I figure out teaching Design Thinking, math, and computer science.