Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trying new things.

Think of a time when you tried something new for the first time. I would like it to be something that you had never thought of before and you were apprehensive or not very excited to try it. Please describe what you were doing and discuss if it turned out to be a good or a bad experience. Finish off your post by talking about why it turned out good/bad.
I can think of a lot of new things I have tried, some with more success than others. But I'm having more trouble thinking of new things I tried that I wasn't keen on doing on my own. That implies an outside force compelling me to do that new thing. Outside forces in my life are limited to the Almighty, my wife, and my school administrators (in that order). It seems recursive, but I'll talk about learning to teach computer science.

My superintendent sent me an email, saying that there was a new computer science course that I should look into. He followed up again later and made it clear that I was going to be a CS teacher. Now I was pretty comfortable in my current program, working to improve my Entrepreneurship class and grinding through my Business Communications class each year. So I figured if CS would bump off BusComms, then I would give it a try! Our school was transitioning to a PLTW program at this point, and I was part of the push. The training was in Wisconson and two weeks long. It was strenuous, and at times I felt like the only one in the room without a background in the computer science industry. My closest experience: All my friends in college were CS majors.. you absorb a lot just hanging out! 

Two weeks of training was enough to give me the confidence to start the class, but I was careful to remind the students that I was a co-learner with them. We had fun, and I learned a ton about CS in general and about my curriculum in particular. Now I look forward to my CSPrinciples class and teach a second, AP section of the class. I added another course last year as an intro called "Hands on computer science". This is a project-based class working with Arduino and the Internet of Things, and etc. I have also added a lot of CS content to my 8th-grade Computer Applications class. They work in Scratch and HTML, and this year I will add some MIT App Inventor as well. When they take my other classes, they will be off to a running start!

In retrospect, I have always been the sort of person who figures to make the most of what's thrust upon me. But I really have enjoyed this mid-career shift and it has added a lot of meaningful, stimulating challenges to my life. 

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