What to Expect at Nextech PD

October 23rd, 2018

What to expect at Nextech Professional Development

Let me introduce myself, my name is Sarah Pelko and I am the Marketing Associate for Nextech. I recently had the opportunity to attend a one of many professional development workshops that Nextech facilitates. Nextech helps develop a some of the most diverse, driven and dedicated educators. Last month we kicked off the new school year by welcoming 100+ educators to Computer Science Discoveries and Computer Science Principles workshops.

Many newcomers may ask, “What exactly are you getting yourself into when you sign up to do a Nextech professional development workshop?”

Let me tell you my experience at my first Nextech professional development!

In full transparency I begin by saying, I am not an educator. I do not teach computer science.  I do not experience the in-school trials and tribulations that today’s educators do. I am solely an outsider giving a synopsis of my first time at a Nextech professional development.

My morning kicked off with a classic Nextech welcoming that included Stephanie Zircher, Senior Director for CSforIN, giving a cheerful hello with the agenda for the day. Each educator is guided to their specific room for the PD they signed up for and introduced to their facilitator for the day. Many educators seemed to know each other from past computer sciences conferences or professional developments. This was comforting to know that all of the Nextech PD participants grow into a community of sorts.

This specific PD launched with an open forum for educators discussing their tips and tricks for being the most effective CS educator that they can be. Many asked questions about overcoming learning obstacles, lack of technology obstacles and ways to recruit students to join the class. The general discussion allowed for resources to be shared throughout the room. These resources ranged from navigating around confusion to bell ringer activities to fun ideas that interest students. For instance, People magazine have a computer science related activity in every publication they have. Not all educators are avid readers of People magazine, however, it is a simple way for educators to maintain their high quality, relevant curriculum by keeping something in their back pocket.

The facilitators then proceeded into the meat of the professional development by reviewing the Code.org curriculum and how to best fit it in the classroom. There were different levels of familiarity of the Code.org curriculum but that didn’t stop the collaboration from happening. Each lesson was discussed in detail and allowed for questions to be answered.

By the end of the day, several things were apparent. Regardless of the size, demographic or geographical aspects of a school, many educators experienced similar underlying problems. These professional development opportunities have given an open forum for these educators to have a collaborative community that allows for CS to be pushed forward in the state of Indiana. Each educator wants to maximize learning and maximize engagement in the classroom.


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