Join Us: Five Ways to Support and Celebrate Teacher Learning During CSEdWeek

By Karen Brennan, Associate Professor of Education at Harvard University

During Computer Science Education Week, an enormous number of learning experiences are available to young learners in and out of classrooms. But to make high-quality, powerful, and creative learning experiences accessible to all K–12 students, we need to be thinking not only about learning experiences for kids, but also about learning experiences for teachers. Teachers are essential partners in democratizing access to computing. So this CSEdWeek, our team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education invites you to join us in supporting and celebrating teacher learning.

The best learning experiences are grounded in a learner’s passions and curiosities — whether the learner is 5 or 15, 25 or 65. Our approach to supporting and celebrating teacher learning begins with a simple question: What do you want to learn? This question serves as the foundation for our ScratchEd Meetups. Meetups are gatherings of K–12 teachers working with (or wanting to work with) Scratch, who want to learn with and from each other, sharing ideas and strategies for supporting computational creativity in all its forms. Meetups are opportunities for teachers to engage in the kinds of powerful creative learning experiences — experiences that emphasize making, personalizing, sharing, and reflecting — that would ideally be made available to their students.

ScratchEd Meetups are the opposite of “teacher training”. Inspired by the Edcamp model of professional learning, meetups are highly participatory, with the activities being co-designed and co-facilitated by everyone at the meetup. The events, which are typically monthly, 3-hour gatherings, include participants representing a wide range of grades, subject areas, and levels of familiarity with Scratch and computing education. A typical meetup consists of three parts: (1) Networking & Scheduling, (2) Exploring & Learning, and (3) Sharing & Reflecting.

My team at Harvard has been hosting ScratchEd Meetups in Boston since 2010, in collaboration with a phenomenal team of local educators: Janet Dee, Ingrid Gustafson, Rosemary Slattery, and Nicole Hart. We’ve been surprised and delighted by the number of teachers who have traveled — sometimes at great distance — to join these learning experiences. This inspired us to create resources to help people host ScratchEd Meetups where they live.

To support and celebrate teacher learning as part of CSEdWeek 2016, we’re delighted to launch the ScratchEd Meetups Network. There are already 10 cities (Boston, New York City, Chicago, D.C., New Orleans, San Francisco, Portland, Rhode Island, Lexington, and Westchester) participating in the network, hosting meetups for more than 500 people, with more cities coming soon.

We invite you to join us in supporting and celebrating teacher learning by joining the ScratchEd Meetups Network. Here are five ways you can participate:

  1. Join the conversation. All week long, our team at Harvard will be sharing CSEdWeek teacher-learning resources on ScratchEd, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Have a resource or a request? Participate in the conversation on one of these platforms using the hashtags #CSforAll and #TeacherLearning.
  2. Become a group member. An easy first step is to explore the ScratchEd Meetups Network map. Is there a pin on the ScratchEd Meetups map near you? Join the meetup group to get updates about future events and meet other Scratch educators near you.
  3. Express interest. Don’t see your city on the map? Let us know that you’re interested in starting a group in your part of the world by responding to this short survey. We’ll help connect you to other teachers in your area.
  4. Start a meetup group. Can’t wait for a meetup in your area? If you’re feeling inspired to host one of your own, get started by exploring the ScratchEd Meetups resources site and request a copy of the ScratchEd Meetups guide. We’re here to support you.
  5. Spread the word. Already a meetup group member? This CSEdWeek, support a colleague’s learning by inviting them to join your local ScratchEd Meetup group. Each one, reach one!

As Stanford’s Hilda Borko and colleagues have argued, “if we want schools to offer more powerful learning opportunities for students, we must offer more powerful learning opportunities for teachers — opportunities that are grounded in a conception of learning to teach as a lifelong endeavor and designed around a continuum of teacher learning”. This CSEdWeek, we invite you to join us in this commitment to more powerful learning — and we look forward to seeing you soon at a ScratchEd Meetup!

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