Skip to main content

C'est la Z

CoTeaching - learning from colleagues

A few weeks ago I wrote on how you can't workshop a lesson. Besides the slow feedback loop, teachers largely work alone. Between classes, teachers might have a small bit of time to collaborate and bounce around ideas but with a HS teacher typically having 5 classes a day + professional assignment there's not a lot of time.

CS teachers typically have it worse as they might be the only CS teacher in their building. My hope is that this current cohort of Hunter CS Ed students, like earlier cohorts form their own support network but that's not what I'm writing about today.

As you know, for the past month I've been working my CS Teacher certification program. We've got close to 60 participants. This means we were able to engage 2 teachers per class. Truth be told, I've got a great team and the whole crew is supporting each other in all of the classes, not just the one they're teaching.

The end result is that we're all working harder but we also get to teach together and, in fact, at least partially workshop our lessons.

I'm loving it because the one thing I really miss teaching at Hunter is my teaching team. I'm the only person doing what I do at Hunter so, just like so many other CS teachers, I'm on an island.

When Sam was talking about run time analysis, he had a really nice way of exploring the run time of the n^2 sorts. I think I do a pretty good job when teaching this but I loved the way Sam developed and communicated the topic. Likewise, he did a unit on Expression Trees which was very different from my approach to trees. We had plenty of time before he did these units to discuss them and afterwards to debrief. I'm 100% stealing some of this when they come up in my classes.

Not to just be a taker, Sam really liked the way I introduced and developed linked list and will be stealing that from me on his next iteration.

It's being able to work with other teachers like this that makes running the summer program special. On the other hand, the workload is far to great to be sustainable. This is also the kind of thing that teachers should be given the time to do. Giving teachers time to work together in their schools is worth so much more than the professional developments that schools usually offer and require.

I'm hoping that the program participants, in addition to the core material in our classes are also reflecting on how each of the instructors are running parts of the classes. Not saying that we're hitting everything out of the park but a fair and careful analysis of how we teach a subject and comparing it with what they do can provide an extra layer of development beyond what's formally in the classes.

We'd actually highlight this more had the state not decided, in their infinite wisdom that we couldn't merge our CS and CS Ed classes. We did that for cohort 1 and it was extremely effective.

In any event, it's been a very full month with a couple more days to go but thought this was something worth shareing about now.

comments powered by Disqus