There are many aspects of instructional coaching that make my job one of the best I could ever imagine. That moment when a student “gets it” and their eyes light up. Collaborating with teachers to select what content, skills, and strategies will work best in their classroom. And then doing it again the next year because every group of students presents new and different opportunities and challenges.
Working with teachers to bring coding into the classroom has been especially rewarding. Many of our teachers have never engaged in coding or robotics activities before and I have the chance to open this world up to them both as learners and as educators. Often, however, teachers treat computer science and coding as a “special” which is taught by a “specialist” separately from other curricular content and skills and do not participate in the learning. However, when teachers learn alongside their students, something special happens for both the teacher and the students.
When teachers sit with students and learn new skills, along with the struggles, questioning, failures and successes, they model learning the learning process for their students in an authentic manner. Students see that everyone needs to work hard to learn something new. They see adults having to guess and check, predict, and persevere. There are times when students are able to support their teachers in learning something new and to model the concepts in order to explain how to solve problems. This modeling is a powerful tool in helping students understand what it is to be a lifelong learner and to take chances as they grow.
It’s one thing for me to tell a teacher that the skills that students are learning in coding and computer science apply across the curriculum – it’s a very different understanding when teachers are applying those skills and making the connections to other skills, content, and habits of mind. Working through sequencing, loops, conditionals, and more, teachers see not only the connection to math, but to writing and analyzing literature as well. Creating code through an iterative process and debugging using a logical, methodical, process elevates problem-solving skills that apply to all areas of education and daily life.
Relevance and Engagement
Most importantly, when students see teachers and other adults engaging in the same activities they are doing, they perceive those activities as being relevant and authentic, making them more likely to engage fully with the activities and to persist when things become difficult.
Anyone can learn to code and everyone should learn enough about computer science to be able to understand how technology impacts our world and our work. So, the next time you have a chance to work with a coach or one of our building-based EdTech educators in your classroom, jump in and learn alongside your students!
Thank you, Ms. Krystel Anderson, Mrs. Diane Fitzpatrick, Mrs. Amanda Hanafin, and Mrs. Chrissy Sheppard for a wonderful day of learning together with your classes!