Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
Hot on top of my posting about NECC and the CS & IT Symposium I read Brian Scarbeau's blog this morning. Brian will also be presenting at the CS & IT Symposium. Brian does a lot of training and he is really good at it.
Brian's question this morning was asking other teacher what they do for professional development. Training for computer science teachers can be a big problem on several levels. It is hard to get away for training during the school year. Getting time off for professional development can be very difficult. With budget problems many school districts are trying to cut back on bringing in substitute teachers. There is also the problem of money to pay for training or for transportation to training. Brian talks about some of what he does and later in this post I make some suggestions for other opportunities.
So if getting release time during the school day what is left? After school, week-ends and summer “vacation.” People who don’t understand how a teacher spends their time think that after school or weekends would be ideal times for additional training. Kevin Schofield over at the On10 Education blog had a great post on a teacher day recently. The short version though is that the hours a teacher spends in the school building are only part of the time they spend working. And teachers do want to have some time for themselves and their families. So while some teachers do make time during the school year for additional training it is not always practical to find enough time.
So there is the summer. Even with enough time, in theory if not always in practice because many teachers do have to work a second job in the summer to make ends meet, there are other barriers to training. Cost is the big one.
Teacher training opportunities in the summer do not cost a lot, generally, compared to the sort of expense professional developers pay for their training. But the cost of a course does not cover the cost of getting to the course nor does it always cover the costs of room and board while one is away from home. Financial support from school districts is limited and no where near as generous as what industry provides to their employees.
It often it takes a very dedicated teacher who is willing to sacrifice personal time and personal money to really keep up with the state of the art in computer science education. There are a couple of options that can help though. One of them is to take advantage of free training that is being offered to professional developers. Brian talked about MSDN events and these are one opportunity. These events are given all over the country and teachers attending them can get the chance to hear about what professional developers are doing and bring that information back to their classrooms. There are also TechNet Events and code camps and web casts. You can go to the MS Events page and search for events in your area or online.
Another option is user groups. User groups meet locally across the country (all over the world actually) and generally have interesting speakers and the chance to network with local professionals. So not only can you learn a lot at a user group meeting you may find people to give guest talks to your students or members for a technical advisory board. These are great opportunities that may teachers do not even know about let alone take advantage of.
Beyond that when ever I find out about a webcast, a special event or other training/learning opportunity for teachers I try to link to them from here. So come back often and see what I’ve found.
Are you going to NECC 2006 in San Diego July 5-7? Joe Kmock and others created a list of sessions at NECC for members of the SIGCS (Special Interest Group in Computer Science) and Pat Phillips has it posted on her blog. It's worth checking out. I think I'm going to try to make a bunch of those sessions.
Additionally, the CS and IT Symposium will occur on Saturday July 8 that is an all-day event for CS teachers.
Oh and Pat Phillips and I will be hosting a Birds of a Feather session for teaching Visual Basic.
What: Visual Basic Birds of a Feather
Day: Wednesday, 7/5/2006Time: 5:15pm– 6:15pmRoom: (TBD I'll post something when I have it)