Thanks to Alabama’s professional development programs for Computer Science teachers, career tech educator Pam McClendon has become a skilled CS teacher leader, committed to opening career doors for students and realizing the vision that all Alabama youth today need to gain some mastery of coding and computer science skills.
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Making computer science education a priority begins by assuring equitable access in every Alabama high school. When you walk into Brenda Richardson’s classroom at Decatur City’s Austin High School, “you see a diverse population of students, representative of our student population as a whole. I think it is extremely powerful when students can look around their class and see such diversity. We are breaking CS stereotypes at Austin High!”
Why teach Computer Science to all our students? At its core, computer science “is just the methods by which we teach a machine to perform tasks based on our instructions,” writes CS teacher Eleson Tanton. By showing students how the same process can be applied to their own learning, we can help them integrate skills and knowledge into a more productive life.
The mastery of new, more rigorous standards has been challenging for many students, says the 2018-19 Alabama Teacher of the Year Zestlan Simmons, but “thanks to a steady process of guided practice and constant feedback” many more students are turning the corner – gaining the skills and knowledge they need to become informed citizens ready to flourish and contribute to the world.
Alabama’s rigorous College and Career Ready science standards require students to go beyond identifying facts and information. They require them to predict, analyze, and explain as they work to master the standards’ expectations. Science teacher and NBCT Amy Fowler Murphy offers an example from her chemistry class.
What are Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards? Why are they important to educators? How do they help students prepare for life after school in both college and career? Follow along with our new “Teacher Voices” series as educators from around Alabama answer these questions. We begin with Kay Haas, a veteran teacher and instructional coach at Walker Elementary in Tuscaloosa County.
During the last challenging months of the school year, educators need to remember some simple messages learned in Kindergarten: “Stay on target. Stick to our structures and routines. And by all means – collaborate.” Jill Edwards, an elementary school assistant principal and former instructional coach, spotlights “the masterful skills of really adept kindergarten teachers.”
Some students begin their journey through middle and high school in high-visibility mode. They are active in class and in school life – “everybody knows their name.” But other students are at risk of getting lost in the crowd. Teachers in Florence City Schools have begun a proactive program to make sure every student is well-known and supported.
Written by Valerie Johnson, M. Ed., NBCT
Principal, Semmes Elementary (Mobile County)
(Published with permission from author)