K-12 Professional Development (PD) Philosophy and Goals

Code.org has worked with partners and experts in the field to develop a PD model that embraces the importance of in-person, cooperative workshops and uses online and asynchronous components to provide an ongoing community and support when teachers are in the classroom. This PD experience builds on the work of others and recognizes that one size does not fit all, therefore the PD is tailored for each course and curriculum developed by Code.org. These PD opportunities are based on the following principles.

These PD programs are supported by high-quality curricula, which are guided by our philosophy and goals.

K-12 Professional Development Philosophy

We believe that PD should focus more on: 

Classroom teaching and learning in context

  • provide opportunities for participants to practice the art and science of teaching
  • develop participant understanding of how to use specific curriculum in the classroom
  • facilitate participant reflection on their past teaching practices and set goals for the future
  • provide concrete experience with hands-on, inquiry-based teaching practices
  • focus on the conceptual foundations of topics covered in the curriculum
  • Introduce and promote a wide range of teaching strategies and classroom practices.

Student needs

  • encourage student ownership of the learning process as a key to knowledge building
  • facilitate participant reflection on the needs of learners, including a focus on equity and differentiation in the classroom to support diverse learning needs
  • allow students to experience and equip them to handle frustration

Supporting teacher development

  • Provide on-going, classroom-embedded support for the teaching of specific courses
  • create a space where teachers can
    • safely take risks and experiment with new or innovative teaching strategies
    • explore, question, and critique their own teaching practice
    • improve understanding and capacity with computer science content respond to unique needs of teacher communities
    • receive feedback from peers as a part of the shared inquiry process

Address the systemic needs of teachers, schools, and districts

  • build a strong, lasting community of individuals rooted in trust and respect
  • accommodate the particular needs of the districts, schools, teachers (one size doesn’t fit all, multiple PD options should be available)

We believe that PD should focus less on:

  • Transmitting information or facts—rather, we should strive to empower deep and meaningful learning of concepts, skills, and the processes involved in their attainment
  • Showcasing the “sage on the stage” talking at participants and presenting information—rather, we should strive for a participant-centric and hands-on model that uses a “guide on the side”
  • Specific tools without context of a course and curriculum—rather, we should strive to build capacity for the tools and techniques implemented within the specific course or curriculum to facilitate pedagogically sound use
  • Providing stand-alone, or “one and done,” learning opportunities—rather, we should strive to situate individual PD opportunities as part of a larger, on-going development process that includes ongoing work within a learning community and follow-up workshops

K-12 Professional Development Goals

While there are course specific PD goals, there are also sweeping goals that stretch across all Code.org PD programs.

Teachers should understand that computer science...

  • is more approachable and accessible than often portrayed
  • is fun, self-motivating, and engaging for them and their students
  • has an important role as a distinct discipline of study, but also stands to augment the study of other domains
  • is not just programming
  • is important to their students’ lives, regardless of their interests or career path they choose
  • is for all students, and foster an equitable learning environment where all students can flourish
  • can be effectively taught using both computer-based and non-computer activities, which reinforce one another
  • is often challenging. Challenge can be exciting and fun for students.

Teachers should know how to…

  • identify and use the instructional strategies that lead to effective use of the curriculum
  • build a learning environment that reaches diverse learning needs
  • find resources/support as educators
  • successfully use the material covered in the curriculum to teach their course
  • leverage the community of CS educators they’ve built throughout PD

Equity in K-12 Professional Development

In order to provide diverse role models for students, it is important to engage teachers from all disciplines and backgrounds to teach computer science and embrace the potential for a diverse learning environment that is created when these teachers learn together. In order to attract and serve a wide range of teachers in our PD sessions it is essential to reach out to teachers who are members of groups that are traditionally underrepresented in computer science. 

Much like a classroom, the professional learning environment should be structured equitably. PD participants need to be given support and scaffolding to help facilitate their discovery of new material, teaching strategies, and learning environments.

It’s important that teachers experience firsthand the teaching and learning that will happen in their classrooms. Modeling teaching practice grounds the need for all learners to be engaged in classroom activities, and provides opportunities for teachers to consider how particular practices and approaches to teaching computer science advantages some learners and might disadvantage others, especially those who are traditionally underrepresented in CS.

From this PD experience, teachers will better understand the need for an equitable learning environment and be able to reproduce those environments in their own classroom. Building an equitable classroom requires time and persistence; the goal is to prepare  teachers with strategies to support all learners and to provide a support system as they work at building an equitable learning environment.