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This is My Dream Job

Long ago in a land far away (well, actually only about 2.5 hours east of here -- but definitely a very different day and time), I started teaching high school math (in a very progressive school system), and I thought, "This is my dream job." Every day was different and working with students and other educators was wonderful. Farther down the road in a new time and place, I started teaching computer programming to high school and college students, and I thought, "No, this is my dream job." Not only was every day different and the students were still fabulous, but teaching with computers was fun! They were actually paying me to have fun! Now, much later in my career path, I am no longer in the classroom, so I miss the students. However, every day is still different, and the responsibilities of my position are so varied that I am still enthusiastic about education -- specifically Computer Science/IT Education.

My primary job responsibility is in the development and maintenance of our statewide IT curriculum. I have the pleasure of networking with business and industry partners and in working closely with teams of our state educators to develop or revise curriculum. That in itself is rewarding, challenging, and fun. We recently revised our very outdated Computer Programming I and II courses. The courses are being field tested in schools throughout the state this year. Last Monday, I had the pleasure of visiting a terrific high school in the southern part of our state. I was participating in a monitoring visit (monitoring and accountability are some of my other job responsibilities). What a pleasant surprise it was to me to visit both a Computer Programming II and a Computer Programming I classroom and to see the students actively engaged in programming games to test the computer programming coding skills that they had learned earlier in the year (C# and Visual Basic 2010). They were so engrossed in their work and having so much fun working, that I hated to interrupt them, but I did. I asked what they were doing (and all were able to articulate that quite clearly), and I asked if they liked the class (and they overwhelmingly said yes). Some of the students told me that they were going to college to study Computer Science, and some told me they were going to take another programming course or take AP CS. How great is that! I was able to see the "curriculum in action" with students who loved it. What fun! Almost as much fun as teaching it, but not quite.

Responding to inquiries from stakeholders and interested parties is another fun part of my job. In January of this year, my division director forwarded me an email from a Russian Computer Science professor who was a Fulbright Scholar at the local state university. He wanted information about our Computer Science and IT curriculum, which I shared with him. He then shared a paper he had written about high school informatics in Russia. I read the paper and then we had the pleasure of meeting in person to discuss the similarities and differences between CS & IT in the United States and Informatics in Russia. Of course, the discussion included the new CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards. We had a delightful meeting (though occasionally I had to ask for him to repeat something he had said), but otherwise we communicated quite well. We decided that there were many similarities and some differences, and that both countries had room for improvement. (Which is a perennial state, as the CS and IT world changes constantly and poses a challenge to try to keep up to date!)

Soon after I met with my Russian friend, I was asked to meet with a Japanese Computer Science Professor in my role as the CSTA Curriculum Committee Chair as well as the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards Task Force Chair. We met briefly at SIGCSE (though we saw each other in breakout sessions quite frequently throughout the conference). We also had a discussion noting the similarities and differences between Computer Science in the United States, and Informatics in Japan. Once again, we found many similarities in the two countries. We also had a delightful conversation before heading off to enjoy SIGCSE. Again, what fun to meet such diverse people who share the same priorities and passions for computing education as I do.

One area where both Russia and Japan seem to have a bit of an edge on us is in the integration of informatics throughout the curriculum, from the lower grades through high school. But we are working on that! Every day articles find their way to my email box and tout successes in computing education in the K-12 spectrum. Many of the newest developments are in K-8. What an exciting time to be a CS/IT educator! Every day is different. There are advances in computing technology and computing education every day. And the students are so motivated to learn computing. They just want current, relevant curriculum that provides them authentic experiences. That is our job. My primary job is coordinating teams of teachers to develop that curriculum and then providing professional development for our educators so they can facilitate the delivery of that curriculum. Even though I only get to see and work with students on an occasional basis, I do get to impact what is taught in their classrooms. I do get to meet and talk with interesting people who also love computing. This is my dream job.

Deborah Seehorn
CSTA State Department Representative, Chair Elect
Curriculum Committee Chair

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