So you think you want to be a computer science teacher? Part 2.

Yesterday I spent four hours trying to get my computer clocks to sync with the domain controller.  I had a new dc built (the old one was Server 2003) and it would not sync with time.windows.com.  After an hour of Googling and tinkering the time sync started working.  Still not sure why.  Then tried to get the old dc to sync with the primary.  Another hour.  Again it works but I do not know what I did to start it.  Another hour to get my desk computer to sync with the dc.  I tried to manually sync one of my non-domain computers with time.windows.com.  No go.  I bring the laptop home and POOF, it syncs.  I think I have something funky going on with my firewall.  I have had two pros look at it and they see nothing wrong.  It could be the Charter modem doing something strange.  I will plug into it directly next week and see what happens.

Having the right time seems trivial.  It is not.  All sorts of things want the time to be the same through the network or nasty little warnings pop up.  The dcs have to be time syncing or they do not want to sync data.

Alfred Thompson had a post “So you think you want to be a computer science teacher?”  In a small school you do not just teach computer science.  You teach CS (and likely something else), you are maybe the IT department and you are possibly the person that knows all about everything related to computers.  Yup, everything.

You write the CS curriculum.  Think you are going to walk in the door and teach APCS out of the APCS cookbook to computer geeks that love computers and CS?  Think again.  Those APCS kids had to come from somewhere and there is no nifty freshman CS1 or CS2 or CS whatever cookbook for teachers.  Also not a large choice for textbooks.  If you wanted textbooks you should have become a math teacher.   You also have to decide what the heck CS even is.  It is not just teaching programming.  That would wayyy to easy.  What the rest is and how far you should go in high school is to be determined.  The present consensus is warm and fuzzy.  You spend a lot of time in Google looking for ideas and knowledgeable advice.  You take to blogging in the hope you make some good contacts that give you good ideas.  You get on a first name basis with people in the local university CS department in the hope you can get help from them creating a good direction for your courses and your students.  The Education department?  They showed you how to use a Smartboard didn’t they?  Isn’t that CS?

You are also the defacto computer expert (and if you are not careful the cell phone, school phones, copy machine, cable TV, VCR machine, school bells and anything else that uses electricity expert).  I do not care what your degree and transcripts say you did in college.  You are the IT person.  “Computer expert” means firewalls, servers, switches, wireless, anti-virus, content filters, grading software (hours of fun there) and anything else that might have to do with a computer.  You advise the administration on things that can be very expensive and critical for the future of the school.  (No pressure there!)  Oh, you are also the software expert.  You will be on a first name basis with a Quickbooks support guy named Fred with an Indian accent.  The IT training program consists of an intimate relationship with Google.

Oh, and forget about that 8 to 3:30 day.  Teaching CS take about 3 times as much prep time as any other subject (except maybe English but then English teachers are gluttons for punishment).  Remember you are designing almost all your own assignments.  And do not forget you are the IT department.  Things go haywire with computers during the day for no logical reason.  They get fixed after school or on the weekend.  And if the internet goes down just forget about anything in your life until it gets back up.  In the middle of class?  Tough, you are out the door.

There is no doubt about it, being a Computer Science teacher is fun.  You are never bored, you are always learning something new, there is always something you should be doing, you are usually the department head (usually there is just you in the department) so you can go almost any direction with your curriculum, there is always some new gadget to play with, there are great people out there that are interested in what you are doing and want to help you with what you are doing and, best of all, it is always changing.  Why would a teacher not want to teach CS?  OK, so there is a bit of an issue with job availability.  There is also a bit of a problem getting certified or getting an education in teaching CS.  And there is definitely no education program for school IT.  Details.

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3 Responses to “So you think you want to be a computer science teacher? Part 2.”

  1. alfredtwo Says:

    All true. All too common. There is no end to my respect for all you do,.

  2. Sean Justice Says:

    Awesome post. In fact, this reads like a curriculum outline for learning how to become a CS teacher. Nice.

  3. K O'Shaughnessey Says:

    Great work. I love the humor infused in this piece, and the truth!

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