Welcome to the TeacherCast Podcast. In this episode, Jeff sits down with Kevin Wang founder of the TEALS program. TEALS is an amazing partnership between high schools and industry professionals that create a mentorship between student and mentor.
TEALS pairs computer science professionals from across the industry with classroom educators to team-teach CS in high schools throughout the U.S. Started in 2009 by Microsoft employee Kevin Wang, who developed and ran the program in his spare time, TEALS was embraced by Microsoft in 2011 and has been supported by the company ever since as part of its global YouthSpark initiative, which aims to increase access to CS education for all youth around the world. TEALS helps high schools teach computer science by providing trained volunteers – industry professionals in CS – to partner with a classroom teacher and work as a team to deliver CS education to students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn CS in their school. Over two years, the classroom teacher gradually takes over the responsibilities of teaching the course without volunteer support. The team-teaching and volunteer system of TEALS creates a strong ripple effect: it empowers teachers who can multiply the impact by providing computer science education to hundreds of more students over the years.
Links of interest
Blog posts announcing TEALS & Microsoft blog posts
About Kevin Wang
Kevin Wang, Founder && Ringleader: Kevin has an undergrad in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley and a graduate degree in Education from Harvard University. He built and taught a 7-12 Computer Science curriculum for three years at a San Francisco Bay Area high school and additional years part-time at a local Seattle area school, robotics summer camp, after school at the Community Charter School of Cambridge, and online at UMass Boston. He was a member of the MIT Teacher Education Program‘s StarLogo programming language team, where he published a paper on kids programming games using a block programming language. Kevin was also an engineering fellow specializing in knowledge transfer at Lockheed Martin and Toyota. Kevin was a software engineer in the Microsoft Office 365 group when he founded TEALS in 2009. He now runs TEALS full time generously supported by Microsoft Philanthropies. Kevin spends what little of his free time trying to not be outsmarted by his dog while watching British panel quiz shows.
Why computer science?
- Computer science (CS) is hugely important to the future of the country, yet currently, only one in four high schools in the U.S. offer computer science courses to their students.
- We believe that every student should have the chance to learn computer science, because it teaches computational thinking, programming and critical thinking skills that will be essential to succeeding in the future tech-infused economy– regardless of whether students choose to pursue careers as computer scientists
Microsoft + computer science education for youth
- Microsoft Philanthropies has been seeding the investment in CS education for years, through its various YouthSpark initiatives and partnerships with nonprofit organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) was founded in 2009, and pairs computer science professionals from across the industry with classroom educators to team-teach CS in high schools throughout the U.S. In 2011, TEALS became a Microsoft company-wide initiative, and in 2012, became part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark program.
TEALS’ 4 pillars are:
- Help partner high schools build sustainable computer science programs so that they will be able to offer CS programs on their own
- Increase the number of AP Computer Science test-takers nationwide and across all demographics by building the high school CS pipeline
- Represent students of all demographics and backgrounds with a specific focus on engaging women and underrepresented minorities
- Provide access and exposure to computer science courses for students who otherwise do not have a pathway to study CS
- Since 2009, TEALS has had over 550 volunteers who have helped teach computer science to over 6,000 students in 162 schools in 17 states, and D.C.
- Any high school interested in building a sustainable computer science program can apply to become a TEALS partner school. We make final selections based on school and community commitment and the availability of a volunteer pool.
- TEALS’ software engineering volunteers come from companies across the tech, retail, finance, and other industries.
- Among students who provided demographic information, 25% were young women and 28% were Hispanic/Latino, African American/Black, Native American or Pacific Islanders. Additionally, 40% of our schools are Title One schools, and 10% are rural schools.
- Our partner schools select from two TEALS courses: Intro CS (“Introduction to Computer Science”) and AP CS A (“Introduction to Java Programming”).
- Intro CS consists of two 1-semester long courses. The first semester covers the first 10 weeks of the UC Berkeley CS 10 course, “The Beauty and Joy of Computing.” It uses the graphical programming language Snap! Think conceptual physics – more breadth than depth – but for CS. The second semester transitions from Snap! to Python.
- AP CS A is a rigorous introductory programming course taught in Java as mandated by The College Board. It’s similar to the first-semester programming course a college CS major would take, but stretched over a high school year. We use the University of Washington textbook, Building Java Programs. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/sub_compscia.html
- Some schools in the Teaching Assistants (TA) model use other curricula. When this is the case we expect those schools to work with volunteers around their curriculum materials and provide the support needed to be successful in the classroom.
TEALS & code.org:
- Code.org and TEALS are close partners, with both organizations having the same goals of making CS available to every student in the US. Code.org has programs for elementary and middle schools, whereas TEALS focuses solely on high schools. TEALS focuses on an in-classroom partnership between the classroom teacher and TEALS volunteers in order to fully hand off a sustainable Intro CS class and/or an AP CS A class to the classroom teacher in 2 years or less.
- The new partnership between TEALS and Code.org brings together real-world experts who co-teach CS with classroom teachers and teacher development opportunities.
- The new partnership will include the launch of a joint pilot program to do even more to support computer science education in U.S. high schools. Code.org and TEALS will recruit new schools to teach AP CS Principles in a few pilot regions (NYC, Atlanta, Houston, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and the Bay Area)