Hunter Launches CS Teacher Certification Programs


It took a while but we're finally here. Hunter College is launching it's Computer Science Teacher Certification programs. This was the second big initiative I've been working on at Hunter. The first was the Daedalus undergraduate CS scholars program. The Daedalus program started my first year and is now providing the best value (and in my opinion best) undergraduate CS opportunity in New York.

CS Certification took longer. I had to design the programs, they had to make it through the whole CUNY governance process which even under ideal circumstances takes around a year and then up through NYSED. Oh, and we had to convince the state to create a certification area in the meantime.

In any event, we're live and will kick off our certificate program this summer. That's the program designed for teachers already certified in another subject area seeking to add the CS credential.

So, what does the program look like?

It combines content and pedagogy. It was designed to give teachers the CS they need and the knowledge of how to teach it.

In terms of content, you need some depth. In my opinion, that depth should be at least a class beyond what you'd normally expect to teach. For example a math teacher's classes would max out with BC Calc so I'd want a math teacher to have a math class beuond that. Since we max out with APCS-A, my program takes teachers through data structures - APCS-AB or CS2.

Teachers also need breadth. They don't need to have a full course in AI or a full class in Graphics etc. but a course that gives them exposure to a number of fields. Enough to teach a unit, mentor a precocious student, or learn more on their own to develop new courses. We have a topics course for that.

To round out the CS part of the program we have a programming heavy ethics course. While ethics are woven throughout all the courses - CS and CS Ed we felt that this standalone course also adds great value to our program.

This is a far cry from what I've seen in many other CS Ed programs which follow the "you take it you teach it" philosophy. Basically teachers take Exploring CS, APCS-P, and APCS-A and viola, you've got CS teachers. Not in my book.

Then we mix in the CS Ed. Two methods course where we introduce additional content and how to teach it and also a curriculum design course. The methods courses are based on current best practices and on what I've learned helping teachers develop over the years but I'm particularly excited about the curriculum design course. Over the years I had to take three curriculum design courses and didn't learn a thing about curriculum design in any of them. I swore that if I ever created an education course it would be a curriculum design course that was good. Over the years, I developed units, classes and full programs and learned a few tricks. That in turn developed into the course. Teachers will study existing curricula and develop their own and since the course integrates fieldwork, they'll deliver it as well.

While I had internal help at Hunter, I want to send a special thanks to JonAlf, Sam, and Topher - three of the best teachers I know who provided feedback, assistance, and inspiration (sometimes without knowing it) along with other friends in education, academia, and industry throughout New York State who made sure I designed a program that would work for teachers across New York State.

If you're looking to become certified to teach CS in New York schools, check us out. You can find more info here.