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You Can Teach Computer Science! A Former English Teacher’s Story and Advice

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 109AB

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HCS Early College and Career Center
ISTE Certified Educator
I am a new Computer Science teacher who has 16 years of experience in education. I made the switch from teaching English to Computer Science because I saw the need to make Computer Science programs more inclusive and diverse. I spent one year as a district literacy and technology coach, but soon realized I wanted to go back to teaching students directly. I was named the Kentucky Society of Technology in Education in 2019, and have since become an ISTE certified educator. I am excited to continue my Computer Science teaching journey.

Session description

This presentation will highlight the skills that all teachers already have and discuss how to apply those skills to computer science. There is an increasing need for CS teachers. Good pedagogy is applicable to all content areas, and new content knowledge grows with time and experience. Let's recruit more teachers!

Purpose & objective

It is no secret that there is a national shortage of Computer Science teachers. In addition, many core content teachers are intimidated by the thought of teaching Computer Science, thinking that they have to know programming languages and the ins and outs of a computer. However, this former English teacher and literacy and technology coach made the switch from teaching something I could do with my hands tied behind my back to something I knew almost nothing about. I have always had an interest in technology, but buying cool gadgets and finding innovative ways to use EdTech is where my knowledge ended. I was offered this crazy opportunity, accepted, and came to my new role with absolutely no resources and no one to support me or answer any questions. Not only did I make a huge switch in content, I made that switch with nothing but my own determination.

I knew in order to succeed, I had to get out there and do the work to find a supportive community and curriculum that would help me survive this first year. I found my community in, AdvanceKY,, etc. as well as groups on social media. I searched everywhere for content and curriculum to help me design and plan successful classes.

I also knew that I was a great teacher. I had all the pedagogy tools collected from 16 years in education in my toolbox. I figured I could at least teach my heart out, and the content would come.

Despite all the challenges before me, I felt compelled to accept this position for the benefit of our students and community. Before I came, the teacher was white, male, and worked in the industry before teaching. With that being said, most of the students (insert demographics here when reports are available) in the program were white and male. We had a big problem recruiting students who are female and/or students of color. One of my biggest goals was to increase the diversity of the program for next year and beyond. This year, our students now consist of (insert new scheduling data for the 23-24 school year after schools schedule)!

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This presentation will highlight the skills that all teachers already have and show them that those skills can be applied to computer science. Good pedagogy is applicable to all content areas, and content knowledge grows with time and experience. The presentation will also highlight the importance of female teachers and teachers of color to make the switch (or start their career) to computer science. The prospective presentation will be presented via Nearpod and is outlined here.
5 Minutes - I will introduce myself, and tell the brief story that brought me to teaching computer science after 16 years of teaching English, emphasizing my “why”, which includes my gender.
10 Minutes - Background information pertaining to the need for computer science education and the effect having female and/or teachers of color has on computer science classes and overall programs.
5 Minutes - (using an online collaborative board) Brainstorming best practices for any content area and the needs of new CS teachers.
15 Minutes - I will highlight pedagogical skills that teachers already have and that are applicable to any content area, emphasizing their ability to transfer from one content area to another.
10 Minutes - Review of resources and curriculum models for computer science courses. Specifically focusing on AP Computer Science Principles, Cybersecurity, Hardware and Software Maintenance, Networking, and Game Design and Development.
5 Minutes - I will highlight the successes and impact I’ve made over the last year. The positive outcomes my students and I have experienced throughout the year.
5 Minutes - Restate the importance of computer science education and the need for diverse computer science teachers and students.
5 Minutes - Question and Answer

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Supporting research

Some, if not all, of these resources will be referenced throughout the presentation.
The Need for Computer Science

The Need for Computer Science Education

What Do We Know About the Expansion of K-12 Computer Science Education?

My Advice for New Computer Science Teachers

Just in Time Tips for Computer Science Teachers

Filling the Pipeline for Computer Science Teachers

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Session specifications

Computer science & computational thinking
Grade level:
Skill level:
Principals/head teachers, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
Nearpod App is useful if using a smartphone, iPad, or tablet.
Subject area:
Career and technical education, Computer science
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
  • Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.