Partner Leader Pathways

Photo of Anu Gokhale

Preparing Teachers to Teach Computer Science

Anu Gokhale

TECS Project Director and Department of Technology Professor, Illinois State University

Photo of Kenton Machina

Kenton Machina

TECS Project Co-Director and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Illinois State University

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Anu Gokhale and Kenton Machina, established the Illinois State University Teacher Education in Computer Science (TECS) project in response to a need for highly qualified computer science teachers certified to teach computer science. TECS offers a state-accepted program that leads to CS certification for individuals who are already licensed to teach and is available for both undergraduates (in the process of getting licensed) and in-service teachers. Here are four key steps they took to put this program in place:

  1. Work with district and school personnel to identify needs: To bring CS to students, you need teachers prepared to teach it (See the Recruiting High School CS Teachers tool). Anu and Kenton talked to school administrators in Central Illinois and in Chicago to learn about their needs specific to CS in schools. Administrators said they wanted teachers prepared to teach both, computer literacy (how to use computers and applications), as well as fundamentals of computer science. To learn about computing-related terms, see the Computer Science Terminology tool.
  2. Familiarize yourself with district and state policy specific to K-12 CS: State policies related to computer science coursework differ widely. Anu and Kenton looked to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to identify existing certification and license endorsements in their state. Then, they applied for and received funding from the National Science Foundation to prepare middle and high school teachers for endorsement in computer science. See the Teacher Credentialing for Computer Science tool for more information about teaching computer science.
  3. Ensure alignment of new resources with district and teacher needs: Conversations with school districts indicated a need for teachers trained to teach introductory and AP computer science courses. Anu and Kenton met with their university Mathematics Teacher Education and Technology & Engineering Education program directors and faculty to determine which courses would be the best fit for training teachers in CS. They also carefully considered the needs of in-service teachers when scheduling classes, and they built in scholarships as well as ongoing mentoring and tutoring.
  4. Tap in to existing community assets: Anu and Kenton found their interactions with Chicago area stakeholders to be mutually beneficial. The TECS program helps strengthen the growing momentum around computer science education in Chicago and in return, Anu and Kenton get feedback and information for improving TECS from Chicago stakeholders. To identify others in your community who can help you in your own computer science efforts, see the Mapping Community Assets tool.