CSTA Arizona (CSTA AZ) held its first-ever AZ Computer Science Professional Development (CSPD) Week in June 2019.
CSTA Arizona (CSTA AZ) held its first-ever AZ Computer Science Professional Development (CSPD) Week in June 2019. With the release of AZ K-12 computer science (CS) Standards in October 2018 and the launch of a new K-12 CS endorsement for teachers in May 2019, the timing was perfect to offer a week of high-quality CS PD for our K-12 teachers.
Our initial conversations with CSTA led to further conversations with CSTA leaders in New Mexico who had led a CSPD week the previous year. Learning from another chapter about how they funded the week, reached out to providers, and scheduled the week was invaluable in lighting our path forward. With a clear framework in place, we were then able to customize the CSPD week experience for teachers and counselors in AZ. Our overall goal can be summarized in two words: learning and community. We wanted teachers to learn and expand their CS knowledge, skills, and dispositions in a way that aligned to our new standards and we wanted to build a strong CS community here in AZ.
Partners & Funding
In addition to partnering with CSTA through a chapter grant, we also partnered with the Arizona Department of Education, Arizona Governor’s Office for Education, Arizona State University, and Arizona Community Foundation. Each of these local partners was essential to our success providing funding, plus logistical and on-the-ground support for our entire CSPD Week. Working with CSTA and Microsoft Stores, we were also able to provide micro:bits to every teacher. We also felt strongly about providing teacher stipends and aligning these stipends to our overall goal of building a strong CS community. We did this by writing a grant that covered the cost of all teachers becoming CSTA+ members and the cost of their registration upon completing the week of learning.
At the core of AZ CSPD Week was the providers. We knew we wanted to have a menu of K-12 options for our educators in order to meet the varying needs of our CSTA AZ membership. Whether a kindergarten teacher, math teacher, K-5 STEM teacher, MS electives teacher, AP, or CTE CS teacher, we wanted everyone to have an opportunity to learn and develop their knowledge of CS content and practice.
Logistics, logistics, logistics
No matter how lofty the goal and vision of AZ CSPD Week, it’s important to carefully manage the logistics. Planning the registration and payment processes (if teachers are charged) is critical. Remembering to account for any parking fees associated with the venue is important. Thinking about how credit hours may be awarded to teachers is another consideration. Most importantly, ask for help! It truly takes a team to make this come together.
We kicked off the week with a short keynote that one of our partners, NCWIT C4C, recommended – this was a tremendous boost to the start of the week. We incorporated two field trips that highlighted ASU’s Decision Theater that models the application of big data and CS to solve problems. And a highlight of the week was a CSTA AZ meeting with ice-cream donated by a local Microsoft store. This was a great way to introduce brand-new CSTA members to the community we have right in AZ!
Teachers repeatedly thanked us for a fabulous week with many saying that it was the best professional development they have ever attended. This was due in large part to the excellent facilitators. The facilitators were top-notch and did not just teach content; they modeled what it means to be an engaged CS educator who exemplifies inclusive pedagogy, reflective practice, and community building. Listen to participants sharing experiences from the week here.
We know that AZ CSPD Week is just the beginning. We have events planned for next year with the same two goals: to engage our CSTA AZ members in continual learning and becoming part of a strong CS community in AZ!
About the Author
Janice Mak is fortunate to be serving the board and membership of CSTA Arizona as president. She is an educator from Phoenix and appointed member to the AZ State Board of Education. She has been recognized with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and the NCWIT Educator Award.