Code.org relies on educators to help achieve its mission of making computer science available to every student in every school. Whether we are working with teachers directly or with the facilitators and Regional Partners who help bring professional learning to teachers, we commit to upholding the following set of values in our interactions, the design of our professional learning workshops, and our supports.
The educators we work with are dedicated professionals and we view them as collaborators. They best know their classrooms, schools, and districts, and bring valuable experiences and expertise to the professional learning environment. We design our programs to allow participants to share and learn from one another’s experiences, and we seek to encourage and empower them to make the right decisions for their classrooms and communities. As such, we position our facilitators to be guides and connectors rather than the sole source of knowledge.
We value our professional learning experiences being approachable on multiple levels. Barriers to implementing and receiving support on the course should be low, both financially and in terms of ease of use. Our professional learning experiences are designed for educators with minimal or no background in computer science, and provide a safe space to discuss, discover, and practice. As educators prepare and teach the course throughout the year, our program provides support at relevant moments. Through the curriculum itself as well as the materials made available to facilitators for workshops, we value robust and detailed guidance that can be used at the educator’s discretion.
We believe that acknowledging and actively addressing the historical inequities within the field of computer science is critical to reaching our goal of bringing computer science to all students. Professional learning plays an essential role in helping educators identify and address equity gaps in their classrooms and schools. We design professional learning opportunities to be an indispensable time and space for educators to explore strategies to both recruit a representative population of students into their courses and attend to equity challenges that arise in their classrooms.
We design our professional learning workshops to model the student-centered and hands-on approach used by all of the courses in our K-12 pathway. Participants can expect to be active, engaged, and have fun along the way. Furthermore, we prioritize educators walking away with actionable and practical strategies that can be brought to their classroom the next day. We provide educators with opportunities to plan for their classrooms and reflect on the realities of their specific contexts.
We believe professional learning should be much more than a passive, transactional experience where educators come to learn about a particular course. We dedicate time and space within our professional learning experiences for relationships to develop and thrive among participants. While educators entering our core program will only attend workshops for a fixed period of time, we actively encourage connections with other educators in their community that will continue far beyond the workshop. The local Code.org Regional Partner in partnership with their facilitators serve as critical hub and supporter of this community.
Educators offering computer science courses to students is at the heart of our mission, but the infrastructure to ensure scalable and sustainable change to the education system takes a village to support. We value and provide leadership opportunities for educators to take their expertise beyond the classroom. This includes working with peers in a facilitator role, offering advice to fellow educators on our online forums, and engaging on advocacy initiatives.
We are committed to listening to and learning from the teachers, facilitators, and Regional Partners we work with who work tirelessly to bring the opportunity of computer science to students. We respond quickly to concerns and value frequent and transparent communication.
When we design experiences and supports for teachers and facilitators, we draw from a variety of adult learning strategies as well as best practices for overall great service and partnership.
We design professional learning experiences with the idea that the facilitator is a guide and connector, but is not the sole source of knowledge in the room. Through our Facilitator Development Program, we work with facilitators on how to construct meaningful reflection and discussion questions in support of workshop session goals. A teacher in our program can expect a facilitator to be knowledgeable about the curriculum and teaching strategies the curriculum is designed to be paired with, but the facilitator will typically form open-ended questions and curate discussions by deferring to the experience of that teacher and other participants in the room. In most cases, the facilitator is also a member of the local community they are serving, so is well-positioned to make adaptations appropriate for that local context.
We frequently ask participants in our Professional Learning Programs and Facilitator Development Program to reflect on their previous experiences, their classroom realities, and the needs of their students. This is in pursuit of constructing a relevant, approachable, and engaging experience for participants, as well as honoring and valuing their existing expertise. Reflection time often transitions into a broader discussion with a small group of peers or the whole room where strategies and insights are shared. There are of course occasions where knowledge needs to be transmitted from the facilitator to participants, but these are kept to a minimum during in-person workshops. Even during a facilitator-led presentation, space is still made for participant reflection and discussion.
We recognize that the educators we work with are in different places in their careers, have a spectrum of experience with computer science, and may have different perspectives on how issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion impact their classrooms and communities. When we design professional learning experiences, we do not have a specific destination in mind for where we expect participants to be when they leave a workshop or even the program. Instead, we maintain a “take one step forward” philosophy and embrace that success will look different for each and every participant. Our goal is that all participants, no matter their background, will deepen their understanding of what their students (or teachers, in the case of facilitators) truly need to be successful, and of how they can help remove barriers along the way.
Participants expect to gain relevant and actionable strategies, insights, and connections when they are taking time from their busy lives to engage in our Professional Learning Program. Recognizing this, we structure our first in-person workshops around letting teachers gain exposure to and comfort with the materials they will encounter early in the curriculum, and helping them create a concrete implementation plan that works for the realities of their classroom and school. For the courses that offer follow-up workshops, the timing of these workshops is thoughtfully calculated with the school calendar and curriculum pacing recommendations to offer just-in-time support. These follow-on workshops are then even further customized, as teachers are invited to share with facilitators and Regional Partners where they are in the curriculum before each subsequent meeting.
Many of our educators take a huge leap of faith to learn and teach a new subject. So whether they passively read updates via our regular newsletters, actively explore resources and share insights on the forum, or receive dedicated one-on-one email support within 24 hours, we want to make sure that we do everything we can to support them as they bring computer science to their students. For facilitators, the channels of support also include weekly office hours, quarterly calls to review workshop agendas, and real-time chat. We frequently survey the groups we work with to get the most up-to-date insights and feedback on how we can do better, and are committed to improving our support system to better meet needs.
We are incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with hundreds of facilitators and thousands of teachers. Those numbers are rapidly growing as the momentum of computer science education continues to build across the country and the world. Because we interact directly with so many dedicated professionals across a variety of sectors, we are committed to offering fantastic customer service. The individuals we work with can expect that we will be flexible, action-oriented, friendly, and respectful at all times.