It’s time for Teach For America to fold: The lesson for computing education

June 19, 2013 at 1:22 am 7 comments

The piece linked below is about why Teach for America should fold, but the argument being made is the same for why TEALS is not a useful strategy for the long-term health of computing education in the United States.  We need to build up our corps of veteran computer science teachers.  Using professional IT workers as stop-gap measures means that there’s no incentive to develop those veteran teachers, and means that we’re not spending our efforts in teacher professional development that will pay off over the long-term.

The other problem is the wasted investment a school makes in a teacher who leaves after just a few years. Sadly, I’m a poster child for this. I remember my last day at my school in Colorado, as I made the rounds saying goodbye to veteran teachers, my friends and colleagues who had provided me such crucial support and mentorship. As I talked of my plans for law school in Chicago, and they bade me best wishes, I felt an overwhelming wave of guilt. Their time and energy spent making me a better teacher – and I was massively better on that day compared to my first – was for naught. The previous summer I had spent a week of training, paid for by my school, to learn to teach pre–Advanced Placement classes. I taught the class for a year; presumably, I thought, someone else would have to receive the same training – or, worse, someone else would not receive the same training. All that work on classroom management and understanding of the curriculum, all the support in connecting with students and writing lesson – it would all have to begin again with a new teacher.

via It’s time for Teach For America to fold — former TFAer.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rdm  |  June 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    If done “right”, TEALS could be a mechanism to develop veteran IT teachers.

    Teaming up in a classroom and working with existing teachers might not be the best mechanism, but if the IT professionals and the IT educators collaborate to create a good curriculum, it seems to me that the educators should be picking up something about the professional point of view (and the professionals will gradually pick up some of the educational issues).

    Using TEALS to replace educators with non-educators would be bad. But using TEALS to give educators resources they need to teach seems different. (I would be interested in reading something that goes into enough detail about specifics to know how it has been working out in practice.)

    Reply
  • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  June 19, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Interesting comments on these issues from Alfred Thompson: http://blog.acthompson.net/2013/06/two-sides-putting-industry.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

    Reply
  • 4. Kevin Wang  |  June 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Mark,
    TEALS teaches the in-service teachers we co-teach with while we teach the students. All TEALS partner schools are committed to teaching CS on their own in a 3 year time frame. At that time, TEALS volunteers will have a much more reduced role as TAs serving as a technical backstop as well as linking the CS class to industry.
    Sustainable CS courses and having the in-service teacher learn and teach CS the whole day (not just 1st period with us) is the end goal we are trying to get to for all high schools.

    Reply
    • 5. Mark Guzdial  |  June 20, 2013 at 7:06 am

      That sounds like a promising model, Kevin! TEALS only goes into schools that already have an in-service computer science teacher? I attended a public policy briefing from Microsoft last year where TEALS was described as providing computer science instruction to kids who don’t have access otherwise. Has TEALS changed over the last year?

      Reply
      • 6. Kevin Wang  |  June 20, 2013 at 11:48 pm

        The in-service teacher we team up to teach CS is usually not a CS teacher and the school would not have put on a CS class otherwise.
        So we teach the students and at the same time teach the in-service teacher and eventually the course is handed off to the in-service teacher to teach on their own. Think of it as every day CS professional development for in-service teachers who want to teach CS but doesn’t have a CS background.

        Reply
  • […] wrote a blog post recently, where I suggested that we in computing need to be careful that TEALS doesn&#82….  Kevin Wang, who runs TEALS, contacted me after that post and we had a useful phone […]

    Reply

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