Iowa educators learn how to teach computer science at Code.org’s TeacherCon

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[vc_row padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px”][vc_column fade_animation_offset=”45px” width=”1/1″][text_output]Thirty-two Iowa teachers were surrounded by over 400 of their peers in Houston June 18th – 23rd. Looking at their faces, you may have thought they were all on vacation, but they were actually hard at work during TeacherCon Houston, the beginning of our year-long Computer Science Professional Learning Program. This will be the first year that the program is available in Iowa, and the timing couldn’t be better.

In April, the Iowa State Legislature passed SF 274 which calls for computer science education standards, instructor endorsements, and establishment of a computer science professional development fund. With growing support for high-quality computer science offered throughout K-12 education, Iowa needs to quickly scale the number of teachers equipped to provide this content.

The increasing demand for computer science in primary and secondary education can seem daunting for schools because there are few teachers that are prepared to provide high-quality facilitation of this field. This is where training like the Code.org Professional Learning Program for middle school and high school provide fantastic learning opportunities for teachers, help to quickly and effectively prepare them, and then continue to provide support as they work with students. One Iowa teacher thought that she’d be learning how to program all week, but really it was more than that.

The week-long conference not only gave teachers the chance to practice some of the lessons in their curriculum, they were also able to experience what it is like to be a learner during the lessons. Other sessions included how to recruit a diverse classroom that represents the demographics of the school and how to encourage a positive and welcoming classroom environment to dispel stereotypes about who can learn computer science.

The goal of TeacherCon is not for the teachers to leave knowing everything about computer science. Because facets of the field are changing so quickly, that is an impossible goal. The goal is for teachers to leave understanding the tools available to them and how to be a lead learner in the classroom, someone who provides facilitation and guidance as the students and teacher both participate in learning together. This not only takes the pressure off of the teacher to be the one who knows everything, it also allows students to play a leading role in their education under the guidance of someone who can demonstrate how to learn. After finishing the week in Houston a teacher shared, “I’m so fired up I want the school year to start tomorrow.”

While the Code.org Professional Learning Program starts with a full week in the summer, it doesn’t stop there. Four single day workshops will be held during the school year to support Iowa teachers as they are implementing the curriculum. Ongoing support and helping to build a strong community around computer science education are additional benefits that will continue on after the teachers finish their year in the program.

Recruitment for the next cohorts of middle school and high school teachers in Iowa will begin Fall 2017. For more information, visit our page for Iowa here and check out Code.org’s curricula offerings here.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]