At the beginning of August, nearly 500 teachers arrived in Philadelphia to learn how to teach computer science. A week before that, it was 500 teachers in Phoenix. And before that? 300 teachers in Houston.
With an increased demand for schools to offer computer science, it can seem like a daunting task for districts to implement when there are too few teachers prepared to teach the subject. To help address this challenge, we developed a professional learning program geared toward supporting teachers who are new to CS. And for the second summer in a row, we invited middle and high school teachers to attend TeacherCon, our week-long conferences on how to teach computer science.
Many of the 1,300 teachers we worked with were not computer science teachers nor did they have a deep technology background. They’re math, English, and history teachers. They’re teachers excited and passionate about the opportunities CS can bring their students. The only requirement we ask of our teachers is that they’re open to learning alongside their students.
For one-week, middle and high school teachers studied curriculum and learned the lessons their students would be attempting in the coming school year. Our professional learning program is about changing teachers’ practice in their classrooms, which includes attending sessions on how to recruit classrooms that are as diverse as their school as a whole, as well as sessions that highlight the importance of providing a positive environment where any student could find success.
Code.org’s mission is to give every student access to high-quality computer science education; a mission that is generally well supported, but challenging to execute. Many schools face difficulties where students have no access to computers or internet outside of school and no background in CS. We make it a priority of our professional learning program to recruit teachers who serve in communities like these, which allows us to reach a much more diverse audience and truly expand opportunity for all.
As teachers head back to school this week, we can’t help but think of the tremendous difference these passionate educators will make. The 1,300 teachers who went through professional learning this summer will reach over 50,000 students. We’ve worked with over 60,000 teachers (elementary, middle, and high school) since our program started, meaning over 2,000,000 students now have an opportunity to learn. We can’t wait to see the impact these students will make in the world.
TeacherCon would not be possible without the generous support of our donors, especially Microsoft, Facebook, Infosys Foundation, Omidyar Network, and Google. Thank you.