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Deep Dive into BootUp Professional Development Offerings

January 13 2021 · By Brenda Bass

A librarian at a district where I conducted a professional development workshop recently stated that I don’t give a lot of information at the beginning of class. I told her that I learned a long time ago, less is more. She agreed, observing that she would have talked way too much if she were in my shoes. Her comment reflects one of the many teaching philosophies we embrace within our professional development at BootUp. We believe that the best learning approach is interest-driven and problem-based, resulting in an intrinsic understanding of computer science concepts. In addition to our onsite professional development workshops, we provide site visits, including model teaching, peer observations, and peer coaching.

At BootUp, we partner with districts across the country to collectively create a 2-3 year professional development plan focusing on providing equitable access for all learners and helping them gain 21st-century skills. To achieve equity within the classroom, we encourage districts to incorporate coding during the school day and integrate it within the curriculum, not just as an afterschool club or activity.

With many districts going virtual or hybrid, our site visits have moved to Zoom. Our visits often coincide with global Computer Science events, such as Hour of Code, and Family Code Night, that engage students in fun, interactive coding activities. Facilitators also partner with districts to model lessons for initiatives such as #CSEdWeek and Byte-Sized Activity.

With model teaching, educators select an integrated lesson of their choice that a BootUp facilitator will model in the classroom. This is an excellent way for teachers to teach a coding lesson, with their students, within their classroom environment. This experience can also help ease fear among teachers new to coding. We’ve modified our model teaching to expand things virtually. Facilitators model a lesson by sharing a link with teachers to showcase to their students virtually or face-to-face.

BootUp also offers peer observations. Teachers can request a BootUp Facilitator to observe a teacher-led coding lesson and offer feedback. Peer observations are not an evaluation but rather provide peer-to-peer support, as fellow educators implement coding lessons within the classroom. One virtual avenue would be for teachers to record themselves teaching a mini-lesson to a BootUp facilitator for feedback or joining the facilitator in a virtual meeting. At the same time, they lead a lesson in their class.

We also encourage peer coaching, where a small group of teachers travel to a designated classroom to observe a teacher implementing a mini coding lesson with their class. This is also non-evaluative and helps build community between teachers. Teachers often gain additional strategies such as classroom management, procedures, etc., to take back into their classrooms. A briefing is held before the exercise to discuss the lesson objectives and goals. Following the lesson, a debriefing is conducted where together, colleagues reflect on the lesson with peer-to-peer feedback. For the safety of teachers and COVID-19 travel restrictions, a way to peer coach online is through virtual Zoom meetings or conferences with a cohort of fellow teachers with the help of your BootUp facilitator or instructional coach.

We work with districts to provide a holistic support system through various professional development offerings tailored to a districts’ needs while supporting equitable access for all students. We are continuously improving our methods and listening to our districts and teachers to make our offerings as flexible as possible while still maintaining the quality of our in-person professional development during these uncertain times. BootUp offers free curricula that your district can utilize, including step-by-step guidance and tips for engaging students in a virtual or in-person setting. To learn more, and bring coding to your district, contact info@bootuppd.org.

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