My Teaching

A look at my current trajectory and educational philosophy…

In 2014, after a lifetime in and around education (see my About page), I was re-bitten by the teaching bug. After many years of informal teaching at work and with my kids at home, I discovered Kids Code Jeunesse and got involved in actual classroom teaching for the first time in years. It was a rush. I saw an opportunity to play a part in Teaching Everyone to Code, and with my own kids and their peers as participants. It was too cool to resist.

I knew I had enough raw instincts and practical work experience to carry out a KCJ lesson well, or to script a new activity, but I wanted to strengthen and formalize my skills–to learn how to teach really well. And I knew I wanted to be a contributor to this world not just by teaching children directly, but by exerting even greater leverage by teaching the teachers. I started spending my personal time learning about what good teaching is and how to do it.

Now (late 2015) I’m now over a year into the process. I’ve taught four times with KCJ and have started to help reshape their curriculum. Armed with what I’ve learned from blogs and popular education books, I’ve started this site and taken a first stab at my own Axioms for Teaching Computing.

I’ve also completed a graduate seminar in Math & Science Teacher Education and read a couple dozen academic articles on teaching & learning. I’ve rediscovered 1990s era ideas that I learned in Cognitive Science at UPenn and acquired concepts from the academic literature that I wasn’t aware existed. I’ve even been alerted to the fact that I have multiple epistemological stances. (Who knew?)

>> See more: my 2015 Reflective Report

As I learn new frameworks and build hours of practice, a Mike Deutsch Teaching Philosophy is taking shape.

My Teaching Philosophy

I begin with a belief that Learning is constructivist in nature, and that the role of a Teacher is to either indirectly or directly orchestrate the learning of Students, following Brousseau’s theory of didactic situations.

My educational focus is on the teaching of Computational Thinking, and on CT curriculum design and teacher preparation behind the scenes. Computational Thinking as a concept is not new, and undergoes periodic cycles of popularity and decline. My hypothesis is that most contemporary CT teaching is quite immature in pedagogical terms, and is in desperate need of improvement if CT advocates want the current wave to sustain and produce lasting benefits. The good news, I believe, is that Ambitious Math/Science Teaching can be the model for improving the way CT is taught and learned.

My approach to teaching is inquiry-based, centered around Big Ideas and Big Problems where possible and followed up with well-orchestrated Discourse and Elicitation by a teacher or facilitator. These produce deeper understanding than traditional “Here is a loop. Here is a conditional.” lessons, and offer the potential for students to develop peer leadership and ownership of their ideas.

My goal in teaching Computational Thinking is not simply to give every student the opportunity to write code or build something digital, though these are important.  Rather, I want them to embody what it is to be a Coder or Maker. This means giving them authentic opportunities to tinker and fail and achieve, to learn and share with their peers. Lampert and Ball speak of their students not “doing mathematics,” but “being mathematicians,” even at a young age. This is the distinction I aim for in CT teaching.

As a teacher educator, I have two audiences: pre-service and in-service teachers who want to acquire CT as a content area or as a medium to teach other content areas; and working technology experts who are new to teaching. In both cases, I am to help them improve their teaching technique and deepen their understanding of pedagogy and epistemology. Both are needed in order to get teachers to develop durable new practices, especially in an industry where administrators and outside interests have misunderstandings and misconceptions about high quality teaching.

Ultimately my goal is to create a community of master teachers and lesson study, like those described in Green’s Building a Better Teacher.

Writers I Like

In the Education world:

  • Jo Boaler
  • Deborah Ball
  • Magdalene Lampert
  • Mary Kay Stein

In the world of Computing Education: