Before school started this morning, a parent approached me on the playground. She asked, “Are you running a Coding Club? My son was telling me about it, and he really wants to join.” I explained that I was and that our first meeting is during second nutrition break on Friday. Not long afterwards, this mom’s son approached me. He was super excited about the Coding Club. His first question to me was, “What languages are we learning?” Hmmm … I explained that we were going to start with looking through some options on code.org, as well as a few different apps. “But what about languages? Were you thinking Python? What about Java?” This is where I had to admit that I’ve never actually tried coding with either of these languages, and about the only language I know well is English. 🙂 At this point, he seemed a little bit skeptical about my ability to run a Coding Club, but I reassured him that I have a plan. I said to him, “Think about what you might want to learn. There are a lot of beginners in this group, but I have contact with someone that’s more advanced. You can learn together.” This made him happier.
The truth is that as teachers, we don’t need to know it all. I think that we do though need to be able to find out what we don’t know, and sometimes (or even, often) that means asking for help. In the case of the Coding Club, my contact is a Grade 8 student at my previous school. He’s the head of the school’s Geek Squad — eager to help support students and staff with technology problems or questions (he even has a Google Calendar and website for sign-up times) — and in Grade 6, he taught himself a number of different coding languages. I spoke to a friend of mine that still teaches at Ancaster Meadow (my previous school), and she approached this student that’s very interested in working with Dr. Davey’s Coding Club. My plan is to have him Skype in, and the small group of students that are more advanced in coding, can work together: from two different schools, but in real-time. They can pick a language that they want to learn and a project that they want to complete. It will be students teaching students, and an expert voice that is not the teacher!
Planning for this Coding Club group has made me think about the classroom environment and planning for diverse student interests and needs. How do we provide different learning opportunities for students that need or want them? How do we access “expert voices” for the times when we’re really not the best “expert?” I’d love to hear about what you do!