I have a few more days left, filled with mostly grading and cleaning, but before I put everything away and dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, I wan’t to get some thoughts down about how this year has gone down.
First, it was a busy, busy year for me. I took on a lot. I was teaching 3 middle school classes, 3 Upper School classes, teaching 4 students in Independent study classes, running a Middle School club, running the Robotics Club, chairing 2 committees, and supporting various technology in the school. It was overwhelming at times, and I don’t recommend it, but I managed. I like to do more than just manage, though, so I’m going to start planning for next year, so that I can do better.
On the positive front, all but one of my middle school classes will be taken on by a new person I hired this year, who is going to expand them into more full-blown maker classes with CS as the connective tissue as it were. I’ll be helping with that development, but it will mostly be in his hands, freeing me up to focus primarily on Upper School and on developing CS more fully as a core part of the school’s curriculum. And that is exciting!
So here’s the breakdown and the color commentary.
Computer Science I: This went fairly well, though I want to make some tweaks. I want to spend a little more time at the beginning of the year on connecting Computer Science to the outside world. To that end, I’m planning to add in an online discussion where students will post commentary about articles related to CS. I’m thinking that will be once a week up through the end of first semester. I also want to do some more formative assessments and checking for understanding, so I’m going to add in some more quizzes, some quick exit polls, and at least one more substantial test. I’m a project-based kind of teacher, but I’ve found that my students have forgotten some basics along the way that they’ve needed.
Computer Science II: This is permanently becoming a semester course. This year, it was small, and it will be small again, though slightly bigger this time. We basically did two big projects. I think that works, but I would like to add in a few more quizzes. I’m not as concerned about tests.
Physical Computing: I won’t be teaching this next year and when I teach it again the following year, I will keep it mostly the same. The only thing I want to add is a little more scaffolding at the beginning.
Mobile Computing: This will be a new course. I have to spend the summer figuring it out. I have picked a book and a framework. Now I just have to develop the course.
8th Grade Computing: This is also a new course, which is mostly going to be maker oriented. I have thought through the first few weeks, but beyond that I haven’t a clue. That, too, will be worked out this summer.
Robotics Club: I struggle with this club. I’ve been open with my students about my struggle and they get it. We participate in a competition, but we don’t put the time in to really do super well in the competition. I want to focus on learning, not competition, and there’s some agreement about that among the members, though they also like to win. We had a bit of an existential crisis this year, thinking we might pull back from competition or choose a different, less pressure-cooker competition to participate in. We’ve decided to stick with the competition for this year, but we’ve designated a single “competition team,” who will focus on getting competition ready asap. They’ll start earlier than everyone else, get first dibs on parts, and have set deadlines for building. The other students will be put on training teams, focusing on learning the ropes of building and programming a robot. The club leaders will be working with them to teach them what they need to know. I’m hoping that my new partner in crime will take on Middle School Robotics, or will just incorporate it into the class. Because having the MS merged with US did not work so well. I tried, but it failed.
In general, it was a good year. I was probably too busy for my own good. But the fruits of my labor over the last 4 years are paying off, which is nice to see. I’m going to work kind of frantically to finish out the year, which doesn’t completely end until June 11, then I’m going to rest for a bit. That probably just means I’ll work 4 hours a day instead of 10. And I’ll work on things that interest me, rather than grading or emailing random people. And I will goof off a little more than normal. At least I hope so.