A High School Teacher Attends
His First SIGCSE Symposium
Alfred C Thompson II, Bishop Guertin High School
Attending SIGCSE for the first time as a high school teacher can be a bit intimidating. First off there are all
those impressive people with PhDs who teach at schools
where you probably would not have been accepted as a
student let alone a faculty member. The people who write
the textbooks you teach from are likely to be there. How are
you, a lowly high school teacher, going to be accepted by
those who live in the lofty towers of academia? It will turn
out pretty well for the most part, but you don’t know that yet.
Add to that I was giving a sponsored talk for a major company in front of an audience of high-powered academics and
my stress level was through the roof at my first SIGCSE. How
would the talk be received? Would someone blast me from the
audience as an industry toady? Would my sponsor company
who was paying what seemed like a lot of money for my travel
and hotel be disappointed in me? Let’s face it there were a lot of
things that could go wrong.
That first presentation went well. Some people I had been
warned about asked good questions in a tone of voice that indicated interest and respect rather than distain and dismissal.
Even better, they seemed happy with my responses. Good thing
I was well prepared.
More relaxed after my presentation I was able to attend
many useful sessions and learn quite a bit that was useful for
my own teaching practice. It turns out that there really is a lot of
overlap between first year university CS courses and advanced
high school computer science like the Advanced Placement
Computer Science courses. Teaching techniques also have
many similarities at all levels of teaching.
SIGCSE was an opportunity to connect with people on a
more personal level. In many ways, the conversations in the
hallways and break areas are as useful as the sessions. When
an attendee uses them to build a personal network of friends,
as many do, these conversations become even more useful over
time. Over the years, I have developed friendships with uni-
versity faculty members, other high school teachers, industry
researchers, and other people interested and committed to ad-
vancing computer science education. SIGCSE has had a major
role in developing my teaching practice, my involvement with
promoting computer science education, and me as a person.
I’ve come a long way thanks in part to SIGCSE.
The author is very grateful to all the SIGCSE attendees who have made him feel
welcome and taught him so much.
Alfred C Thompson II
Computer Science Department
Bishop Guertin High School
DOI: 10.1145/3276307 Copyright held by author/owner. Publication rights licensed to ACM.
SIGCSE has had a major role in
developing my teaching practice,
my involvement with promoting
computer science education,
and me as a person.