As students leave my classroom to go to lunch, I look up to see a new crowd of students walking in. It’s Monday afternoon, and that means it’s time for my Dungeons & Dragons club to meet. Over the course of the next 50 minutes, bites of sandwiches and slurps of juice mingle with dice rolling, bursts of laughter, and vivid declarations of glorious battles and magical hijinks. Advising clubs like this is a passion of mine, because over the years I’ve seen the benefits of making time and space available for students to gather and just play in school.
At a Consortium school like mine, high-level academics and heavy course loads make for a very stressful school day for the average student. Amid the constant barrage of homework, projects, and studying for exams, students struggle to balance their workload with after school sports, jobs, and life at home. All too often, school work cuts into our students’ sleep and personal time.
As a computer science teacher, I know that the profession can feel a little isolating for teachers if they are the only CS teacher in their school. Even if they are lucky enough to be at a school with more than one CS teacher, it is common that they are teaching different courses than their peers.
We are always looking for ways to engage our students and show them how computing is an integral part of almost all fields today. Just when we think we have it figured out, a new language comes along or the next best way to teach beginners in computer science is discovered. Finding good professional development in our field is tough, since it is usually language- or level-specific, which can limit the choices in your geographic area. If your school will allow you to send teachers to conferences, then I recommend sending your CS teacher(s) to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education’s (SIGCSE) Annual Conference to be held in Kansas City, Mo., from March 5-7, 2015.
We’re excited to launch our new NCSSS blog! We’ll be sharing ideas from STEM teachers, administrators and schools around the country. We’ll give you tips on tools we love, professional development we find helpful and share insights from our classrooms in this space.