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C'est la Z

What I have (and haven’t) been up to

It's been about a year since I taught my last class. I miss working with the kids and truth be told, I do miss working with other educators and tech professionals on programs, policy items and related but I don't miss any of the bureaucratic nonsense, policies made by people who don't know what they're doing, nor the record keeping, grading or paperwork.

I spent the first few months in what I've been calling my retirement hibernation but more recently it's been time to emerge. Time to see where, if anywhere, I now fit in the CS/Ed/Tech space moving forward. That's both in terms of where I'd like to be involved and of course the flip side, if those places or people want me involved.

So, what have I been doing in that regards?


Not me connecting with new people (although I love doing that, just haven't had new opportunities) but connecting other people. A big part of this is connecting younger former students with older, more experienced ones - frequently for referrals. I like doing this but to be honest, I can no longer keep track of who's where – too many former students at too many companies. Still, this is an aspect of the StuyCS and how HunterCS families that I'm really proud of building and I really get nachas when more experienced family members are there for the younger ones.

I also had a former student who decided to spend this summer mentoring college kids who couldn't get an internship - he's between jobs and wanted to give something back. Trouble is, he wanted to work with too many kids than would fit in his apartment. Fortunately, I was introduced a couple of months ago to someone who just opened a new co-working/learning space and was looking to support worthwhile projects. I put them together and it's been a win win.

I've been enjoying doing things like that.


This is interesting, because I generally don't actually give advice. I try to repaint the picture of the advisee so as to be sure I understand it and then I generally talk about the questions I would ask if I were in that situation.

In one case, I was put in touch with a team building a workforce exposure/entry experience for NYC high school students. They had a lot of workforce program experience but little tech experience. I think I was able to add value to their efforts given my tech background and educational experience.

In another instance, a friend has been working on a new school proposal. Now, I never actually started a new school but have been involved in school design a few times and have certainly built out a number of programs. It was a lot of fun talking to him about his vision and school's aspirations and to share with him my perspectives.

One other recent conversation was between me and a friend who's been building a company to help in both hiring and in leveling up employees. This is someone who I really enjoy working with. She cold emailed me around nine years ago when she was starting a direct CS Education program and we've been friends ever since. I really enjoyed this conversation because it wasn't the usual "I want to start a coding program" but was still something that, with my education background and range from small kids through workforce, I think left me with something of value to add.

I enjoy this type of "advising" or rather, as I look at it, talking shop and I do think that my background - having been in multiple levels of education from early grades through college as well as in industry and having also build numerous programs lets me add value. Maybe I should try to set it up as a consulting thing rather than just being there for friends.

On the other hand, then there's what I'm not doing.

I think I'll be less and less involved with the national aspect of the CSTA. Note I'm talking here about the national CSTA. I'm looking forward to continue to work with my local NYC and regional CSTA people whom I both like and respect.

A couple of interactions this past year really rubbed me the wrong way. Last year, they were looking for people to join their new Imagining CS Pathways effort. I applied for one of the roles. I wasn't selected. Now, that's fine. I mean, I personally felt, after I heard who was selected, that I had more to offer than many but that could just be my ego. What bothered me was that I was then sent an email asking if I was interesting in participating in a capacity that I had explicitly said I wasn't. I also wasn't particularly impressed with the report once it came out. I felt it was lacking in actual CS. Although I didn't think about this at the time, I suspect the people who built the committee already had an opinion as to what the end report should look like and built the committee to match. If true, not cool.

Later, I decided to throw my hat into the ring to run as an at large member for the CSTA board. Now, again, I didn't figure I'd be elected - I think I've pissed off a number of people over the years but I was put off when I got an email saying that they elected to place other people on the ballot. Why did this bother me? Because it says that there are people within the organization who can basically shape the board by only allowing certain people on the ballot. Again, not cool.

Now, CSTA can of course do what they want. They're the big players who get the Google money. I'm just a retired educator but since the organization appears to be going in directions that I think are wrong, there's no reason for me to continue my involvement or show support.

So, that's what I won't be doing. I guess it also appears that I'm blogging less frequently but that seems to be the norm these days. I'll probably continue apace until something clicks and I'll do a deep dive somewhere.

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