Zuobin Tang teaches math and computer science at Sunset Park High School in Brooklyn, NY. He is the CS4All computer science lead, a role in which he leads and collaborates with teachers to promote and sustain an equitable computer science culture throughout the school. The son of an immigrant family, Zuobin is a proud member of NYC Men Teach, where he coaches fellow Asian American teachers as part of a citywide effort to recruit men of color as teachers to New York City’s diverse student population. Zuobin is a first-generation college graduate who holds a BBA in finance from Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College, an MA in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an MS in secondary mathematics education from St. John’s University. He recently completed his Post-Master’s Advanced Certificate Program in Educational Leadership at Stony Brook University.
With six years of teaching under his belt, Zuobin strives to constantly expand and improve the practice of equity in his classroom, as well as in the schoolwide activities he plans as computer science lead. One important lesson that Zuobin has learned is that “providing fair treatment isn’t sufficient to fully support our students in their realization to become the next generation of STEM leaders.” He looks for ways to help his students continue their CS journeys, placing a high priority on creating ways for them to engage asynchronously, to accommodate different schedules and abilities.
Organizations and programs like CSTA, Code.org, and New York City’s Computer Science for All Initiative (CS4All NYC) have made impressive strides in advancing CS equity, but Zuobin still sees his students hesitate to advance beyond introductory CS courses, due in large part to the lack of diverse role models in the field. To ensure that all of his students see themselves in computer science, Zuobin makes it a point to highlight CS pioneers from diverse backgrounds. He also tries to place his lessons in historical context, so that students can see that people from marginalized groups have always had a place in STEM fields and have been major contributors to computer science in particular. Zuobin says, “This approach to teaching computer science involves much more than coding or algorithm; it involves ongoing efforts to celebrate the contributions of CS pioneers from all backgrounds.”
In the past year, Zuobin collaborated with his school’s cultural celebration team to incorporate CS history and activities into heritage months. The school’s Women’s History Month culminated in a virtual panel discussion on Women in STEM, with a hundred students participating. He’s proud that female students at his school have a higher CS participation rate than male students, although more boys than girls attend the school overall.
Zuobin loves to hear from students—especially those from populations underrepresented in CS—whose participation in the CS4All Hack League, and other CS offerings has led them to pursue college studies and careers in STEM fields. He says, “Learning about these students’ plans to continue their computer science journey beyond high school definitely made my ongoing efforts to promote and sustain a CS culture at our school more than worth it.”
Those efforts haven’t been without their struggles. Zuobin admits that when he was thinking about launching an afterschool computer science club, “I first had to overcome my own insecurities as an inexperienced computer science teacher.” Although he was then the least experienced among the CS teachers at his school, he chose to step up and create the club.
His attitude of seeking out new challenges and learning opportunities has been a through line in Zuobin’s work as an educator. In his three years serving as the CS4All NYC lead at his school, Zuobin has hosted CS Ed Weeks, recruited students to participate in the 2020 Virtual CS Fair, and coached students in the CS4All Hack League, as well as continuing to host the afterschool computer science club. He completed the Exploring Equity in Computer Science (EECS)’s Level 2 professional development series, which introduced him to the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education (CR-SE) framework and taught him more about racial literacy, translanguaging, and universal design for learning (UDL) practices in CS instruction. In addition to his membership in CSTA, CSTA NYC, and NYC Men Teach, Zuobin was in the pilot group for the Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC)’s middle school curriculum and is an eSTEMChampion at Brooklyn North High Schools. He is a Pear Deck–Certified Coach and former editorial board member.
Looking forward to his time as a CSTA Equity Fellow, Zuobin hopes to focus on two areas of improvement for his own practice and for CS educators more broadly: improving family engagement with CS and increasing CS teacher capacity. As students get closer to college, he has observed that family engagement with their CS journey tends to wane. Zuobin hopes to reverse that trend by developing programming and opportunities to build community interest in CS by encouraging families to develop their own CS skills that allow them to code alongside their kids. “If we want to foster and sustain a CS culture within our school and eventually within the community,” says Zuobin, “we must involve more family and community members.”
He’s also eager to explore strategies to build teacher capacity and encourage non-CS teachers to incorporate CS practices into their instruction. Interdisciplinary projects are a terrific way to get students excited about CS while connecting their CS practice to core content areas. Zuobin says that he would “love to explore how to better support non-CS teachers to develop growth mindsets and willingness to be vulnerable through CS skill-building.” By building a more robust community for CS education, Zuobin believes that teachers of every subject can welcome a more diverse group of students into the CS field.
Zuobin can’t wait to dive into his year as an Equity Fellow. He says, “I am so thrilled that CSTA is preparing teachers to become equity advocates in CS education, so that we can inspire more marginalized groups of students to join the CS field to create and preserve a more equitable future for all.”