Tips for becoming a computer science teacher?


#1

Hi everyone,

My name is Zak and I’m a rising senior at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I’m currently double majoring in Computer Science and Education Studies (a program that does not lead to teacher certification). Between the classes I’ve taken in the past few semesters and a job I have this summer teaching at a computer science camp, I’m starting to look into becoming a computer science teacher.

Like I mentioned above, I am studying education but my particular program does not lead to teacher certification. Because I’m so far into my undergraduate career, at this point I don’t think I’ll be able to complete a teacher certification program until after I graduate. However, I’m getting stuck on the best approach to take. Neither Massachusetts (the state in which I go to school) nor Illinois (my home state) seem to offer paths that lead directly to becoming a computer science teacher - it seems like the only option would be to become a math or science teacher and then specialize in teaching computer science once I get a job. Unfortunately, I don’t have a strong background in math or science, so I’m hoping to find another route (either discovering some “secret” program in one of the two states I mentioned or going to a new state).

Long story short, does anyone have any experience with and/or advice for getting certified as a computer science teacher in any state?


#2

@zak.kolar

This is a great time to become a CS teacher! It really does depend on which department CS is in and that can vary widely from district to district, state to state. My home state (NY) has it in the mathematics department. My current district in MD has it in math, business or technology education. Often it helps to be certified and something and then be the person willing the teach CS.

Many states have or are developing separate certifications or endorsements in CS. Look into alternate pathways to certification. Some universities offer a concentrated fast track master’s program in teaching (MAT degree). You may also want to look in programs like Teach for America where you get training and support as you work in a classroom. There are also private or charter schools that do not have as many restrictions. Explore! Ask more questions!

Welcome aboard!
Andrea


#3

Hi @zak.kolar,

A couple years back I was in a similar position to you leaving school. I had a degree in Computer Science and Math Education but in order to get certified I was going to have to come back for another year and my certification would end up being in Math with no guarantee that I would leave and get to teach computer science. What I found was there were tons of Computer Science openings at private schools who would be happy to have someone who has computer science experience and has taken some amount of education classes. Carney Sandoe (a placement company for private schools) helped me find those openings and if you want me to connect you with the people there I would be happy to! They are always looking for candidates.

Second, I wanted to echo @anmrobnott advice. There are more and more programs coming up for getting certification in STEM fields where there is a huge need for teachers. So keep your eye open for lots of opportunities. Get on the MA and IL CSTA (computer science teachers association listservs) to keep up to date with things happening in the state you are interested in. This is the site for the CSTA Greater Boston - https://sites.google.com/site/cstagreaterbostonchapter/

Glad you are interested in becoming a computer science teacher!

-Dani