Posted: Mon, 12/03/2018 - 10:25
Each month, we highlight a member of the CS for All Teachers community.
Name: Alfred Thompson
Occupation: Computer science teacher
Workplace: Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, NH
Years in education: 15
Years teaching computer science: 15
TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)
What interests you about CS?
CS is constantly changing so I keep learning new things; plus, it lets me solve problems of my own and of other people.
How did you start teaching CS? Do you have a background in CS?
I was laid off from a job in the computer industry. I had been a software developer for about 18 years, and I was looking for something else. The opportunity to teach "while I looked for something else" was too good to pass up. I found that I really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and joy of computer science with students, so kept on doing it.
How do you recruit students into your CS classes?
A full year of computer science is required for graduation at my school, so our entry level courses are full. I try to make these courses fun, interesting, and relevant to students so that they want to take more than the minimum.
CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY
How do you get other teachers, administrators, and community members excited about computer science?
We've had some great success stories of students who went into computer science and did very well. Sharing those student stores gets people excited. I'm lucky to live in an area where a lot of our parents are in the technology field. They're pretty strong in their message to administrators that CS is important as well.
What excites you most about the current state of CS education in the US?
Computer science is growing at an unprecedented rate in the US. Not only are more schools offering CS and more students taking CS, but we have great new tools for teaching CS. Not just languages and IDEs, but robots, cameras, phones, and other things that students can touch as well as see. It's a great time to be teaching and learning CS.
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
Community! For a long time computer teachers were very isolated. They are often still isolated in their own buildings so an online community is critical for learning, helping others, and just feeling like you are not alone.
Besides the CS for All Teachers community of practice, what is your favorite CS tool or resource?
There are a lot of great resources out there. One that I think not enough people know about is the CS Teaching Tips website.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?
Make friends with other CS teachers. Attend conferences like the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) annual conference or events run by local CSTA chapters. Also, get involved online. There are Twitter chats, Facebook groups, and blogs where teachers share ideas. Get involved, and you will learn a lot.
TELL US MORE!
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I served two terms on the board of CSTA. That was pretty epic.
What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?
The best part of school breaks is spending time with my grandson. He is four and really energizes me.