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Taking TECS to the Next Step!

Two weeks ago I was in a conference call with an agenda that included discussing possible strategies for promoting CSTA's Teaching Engaement for Computer Science (TECS) workshops for teachers. During the meeting, we talked a bit about ACM's recent Job Migration study, and also about how and when to publish our upcoming CSTA white paper on strategies for successfully developing and implementing a high school computer science—the result of a fascinating panel discussion that took place last summer during the CS&IT Symposium.

Each of these topics is a single piece of one daunting puzzle. How do we redress our country's misperceptions about the nature of computer science in order to bring our students in line with their peers across the globe?

I left the meeting with a renewed sense of purpose. I was so inspired in fact, that before I set out to tackle the action items from the meeting, I sent a quick mass email to a long list of CSTA institutional members who have expressed an interest in volunteering their time to our projects. (Some of you may have received that email.) The message was an appeal to faculty to consider hosting a TECS workshop for the teachers in their region. In the email, I described the TECS program as a tangible, proven resource for high school teachers that relies on committed volunteer faculty for its survival.

The email must have struck a nerve, because in the two weeks since I sent it, I have been inundated with dozens of letters of interest from potential TECS workshop hosts! I'm so happily occupied answering the new hosts' questions and helping them organize workshops that I've been hard-pressed to find the time to actually publicize the workshop series (the intention of the original conference call)! Of course, this is the ideal situation, since positive word of mouth is what truly makes our programs grow and grow.

I am hoping that some of you reading this blog will be interested in joining our efforts. We want to give every high school computer science teacher an opportunity to attend a TECS workshop, and to do so, we need to organize a lot more workshops!

Let me quickly describe the program. TECS workshops provide one, two, and three-day workshops for high school computer science teachers as well as high school teachers from other subjects who are curious about learning, and/or teaching, computer science. The workshops are hosted by college and university CS faculty members, who volunteer their time and effort. The workshops cater to teachers within reasonable driving distance of the workshop sites.

Hosts build their workshop curricula from a broad and flexible list of modules that range from the relationship between math and computer science, to principles of computer organization, to an introduction to programming languages! Additionally, at every workshop, hosts address issues of equity and ethics in computing. As part of our program, all hosts agree to provide follow-up community building activities after each workshop, allowing teachers to solidify their relationships with one another.

TECS is grass roots community building for CS teachers, executed on the local level, resulting in a multi-tiered mentoring infrastructure of educators from secondary teacher to university instructor.

We are literally reinvigorating CS education in the US, one workshop at a time.

(If what you are reading sounds familiar, you may be have heard about JETT, our workshop series focused on preparing AP CS teachers to teach Java. Indeed, the TECS program works the same way, but with a different audience of educators. JETT, for the record, is still going strong!)

TECS exists because we believe that we in the importance of working together to support K-12 comptuer science education. Our program relies on your interest and involvement! If you would like to learn more about hosting or attending an upcoming TECS workshop, please feel free to call or email me! I would love to hear from you.

Jennifer
JETT and TECS Coordinator
wroblewski@hq.acm.org
212 626 0507

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