Teach computing

February 2018

Teacher and childrenMartin Cooper AMBCS RITTech recently spoke to Beverly Clarke, author of a brand new book, and indispensable teaching resource, Computer Science Teacher. Beverly spoke about her career to date, her passion for teaching and the thinking behind her book.

Hi, I’m Beverly Clarke. I’m an author and an education consultant. I also work for CAS Southwest supporting teachers across the southwest region.

What made you decide to become a teacher, and can you tell us about your career progression?

I decided to become a teacher once I had children. I felt a strong need to give something back to children and to the community, so this led to looking at careers in the further education sector and I became a part-time lecturer.

I trained myself up. So I had the subject knowledge and I also undertook some teaching qualifications to train to be a lecturer. This then led to me looking at further opportunities within the education sector.

I undertook a PGCE and QTS to work within a secondary school because there’s so many more career opportunities. I was driven to work in a secondary school basically by the career opportunities. My career progression then continued - I got a job as deputy head of IT, and once I’d done that for a few years the opportunity to become head of IT came up.

It also coincided with the new IT curriculum, so one of the tasks of this new role was to transform the department and take it through the change from IT to computing. This I did successfully.

So I applied for the job successfully and I got the role and took my department through change. I also then became involved in CAS and I set up a CAS hub.

I was a self-starter and I thought, ‘what can I do for other teachers who find themselves in the same position as myself?’ So I set up a CAS hub and this led, by luck, to being involved with CAS a bit further and becoming a CAS master teacher.

From there, I then got involved with a whole host of other projects within school. One of the most notable aspects of my own career progression was gaining my NPQSL qualification, which is a national professional qualification in senior leadership. This allows me to work within the senior leadership team of a school.

Part of gaining this qualification was to manage whole school projects across the school, outside of your comfort zone. So it wasn’t just to manage computing projects, it was to manage projects across the whole board. So I’m very, very proud of that.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?

During my career as a teacher I’ve had many career highlights. One of them was delivering excellent results year on year, so the actual impact upon my pupils from my practice, that’s one of the main career highlights.

Professionally, for me, I have been involved with developing videos for BBC Bitesize, computational thinking videos, so getting involved in that aspect of delivering materials for teachers, that was very, very exciting. Also developing and running my own CAS hub, that has also been an absolute joy to do.

Why is teaching computing in schools so important to the future of computing in the UK?

Teaching computing at schools is very, very important because all of us are citizens who need to operate within the boundaries of increased digitalisation and automation. So, in order to flourish within these boundaries, we do need to learn computing. This is made up of three strands: computational thinking, ICT and digital literacy.

We’ve got increasing need to understand privacy, data protection and to think of and come up with new innovations, so teaching computing is key to us being a successful economy.

What advice would you give to somebody who is already working in IT about becoming a teacher?

For anyone working in the IT profession who is considering being a career changer into teaching, I would say, think about the attributes, knowledge and skills that you can bring to teaching as a profession. So this is not just subject knowledge, this is what you, as a person, can bring. Because teaching is a people job. It’s you. You’re actually selling yourself within the classroom, selling yourself to the pupils so they actually can connect and aspire to be better.

My top skills and attributes within teaching, I would say for myself, were organisation, preparation for delivering a lesson and resilience to undertake each day and deal with any challenges. And also the absolutely enjoyable parts of teaching.

What makes a great computer science teacher? What, in your experience, is the magic ingredient?

Within the classroom, one of the attributes that I would say that any good computer science teacher needs to have is being a reflective practitioner. So, once you’ve delivered a lesson, think about how well it went, what could be done to make it better.

And this is a continual activity, to reflect on how well you have engaged with your pupils and how you can share that information with your colleagues to improve everyone around you.

The book

I’ve recently written a book called Computer Science Teacher: Insight into the computing classroom. This book is designed to encourage career changers into the profession, to support NQTs and for anyone else wishing to understand what life is like - a real-world view of what is actually happening - in the computing classroom.

Computing is a new subject on the curriculum and within the classroom, so what does it actually mean? We take you on a historic journey, first of all, as to how we came to be where we are today. Chapter two is one of my favourite chapters. It really focuses on what it takes to be a teacher - the attributes, knowledge and skills required.

There are case studies from serving teachers, at both primary and secondary level. This gives a real account of their challenges, how they came into the profession and the resources that they utilise to ensure that they deliver and enthuse those pupils within the classroom.

Further reading
Computer Science Teacher is available from the BCS bookshop
 

Image: iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

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