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C'est la Z

The Big Four Four

Nope, not 40 years old, I'm closer to pushing 55. I'm talking about the number of New York's certified computer science teacher.

Two years ago, there weren't any. Last year we got 21 and now, with the semester wrapping up we'll get another 23.

That's 44 state certified computer science teachers in a hurry and what's more, 44 teachers that I can comfortably say really know their stuff both in terms of CS content and how to teach it.

Our first cohort were all working teachers coming back for their advanced certificate and NY State Certification. This year, it was the same for the majority of people in the program this past year. We did, however, have two Masters students both graduating. They should be the first Masters in CS Education students in the state and will be the first two such teachers certified once they file the paperwork.

That's really cool. Another box checked off.

I was also happy with the whole model we set up of having the Masters students mix with the Advanced Cert teachers, at least for their overlapping classes. I think this was great for the Masters students. They got to be in classes and do fieldwork with experienced NYC teachers so they learned the real deal. I pride my program as being designed by teachers and taught by and for teachers but if we give a standard "professor" answer that's patently not workable in the real world, you can be sure, when talking to a room of 20 pro teaches, you're going to get called on it. Those two masters students also get the benefit of starting out in a network of CS teachers from across the city. In fact, one of the Masters students got a job this past year (you can do that in NY State by applying for intern certification) at the school of one of our Cert student.

The Advanced Cert students on the other hand benefit from the new teacher energy and fresh ideas that the Masters students bring to the table and in general the Masters students come in with a stronger CS background than many of the Cert teachers.

I thought it would work well when designing things and I'm happy with how it's been working out.

Back to the title - that's 44 teachers in a hurry. This summer we're upping the ante. We'll have around 5 Masters students joining in with around 55 Cert teachers. Five of the cert teachers are from upstate New York which I think is pretty awesome but almost all the rest are from NY City.

That's pretty huge going 0 - 44 in two years and we'll be at 100 in one more. That's getting to the critical mass in the system that I'm personally aiming for. Just like other subject areas have a small subset of the teachers who go to the conferences, attend the optional PDs and are, in fact the experts, we'll have the same in NYC for CS.

After this? It'll be time to change gears. Less emphasis on the Advanced Certificate and time to start advertising the Masters program.

Why? Besides having achieved the minimum critical mass, I don't think there will be as much demand for the certificate program moving forward. There are a number of reasons why I believe this but I'm not going to go down that rabbit hole right now.

There will still be interest and we'll still run the program but I don't see another set of 50+ teachers banging down the door.

On the other hand, now is the time to start pushing the pre-service. I'd like to get more students into my Masters program. Now that we'll have a critical mass of real CS teachers in the system the newly minted Masters students won't have to be the "experts." They get to be the "new teachers" which is as it should be.

Things can then settle in and CS teacher prep will become the same more or less as other fields.

Of course, it's not quite that simple. Right now, I'm the only game in town but other programs are registered in the state and more should register over time. Some of those programs will be good and others bad but it will certainly complicate the landscape. As I'm sure you know, I'm proud of my program and will put it up against anything out there and would love other institutions to come up with similar programs but you also know I fear that there will be many "you take it you teach it" programs that'll meet the state's requirements but do little more than the current PD based "teacher prep" that is all too common and too commonly touted as successful.

In any event, time will tell and I can really just try to worry about the parts I can control.

So, now that this past semester is in the books I'll be spending the next few weeks getting the team together and planning out how we're going to wrangle the group of 60 we'll be working with this summer. Should be fun.

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