CS Coaching Toolkit
A toolkit to bring CS coaching to every school.
Make computer science teachable in your community.
The Computer Science Coaching Toolkit Card Deck was developed to support coaching activities related to Computer Science (CS) instruction in schools, districts, and other programs.
Coaching is a powerful tool for developing teachers and sustaining programs. Increasing the number of qualified CS teachers through coaching moves us closer to CS for All students a reality. A coach can be a dedicated coach, teacher leader, administrator, curriculum specialist, professional development provider, pre-service field supervisor, or anyone who has a coaching role in some part of their work.
Development of the Toolkit
This toolkit consists of a card deck containing over 150 ways for coaches to support CS teacher development. It is aligned with the CSTA CS Teacher Standards. The final version of the deck will also include related CS education resources, exemplars, and research.
This toolkit pulls together best practices and strategies developed by the coaching team at Cornell Tech, but also by the many teachers, researchers, and practitioners who are working to improve CS education everyday. The cards amplify the work of many people. The cards that feature specific tools or strategies developed by others have citations and links to the original work. Other cards build on the work of many people, and those cards will link to important outside resources when the final version is released. If you see a card that you feel should include attribution, please contact us at the email below.
Authors’ note: We’d like to recognize the work of Colleen Lewis on CS Teaching Tips, as well as the The Security Cards used in the Teaching Security project. Both of these projects were inspirational to our team in the concept development of this toolkit. Additionally, we’d like to recognize the CSTA Standards for CS Teachers which this toolkit is aligned to and the CSTA Coaching Toolkit which was developed in parallel with the card deck and can be used in conjunction with the deck. This work was made possible by funding from our partners at the Siegel Family Endowment.
How is the card deck meant to be used?
This toolkit was developed through the lenses of equity, rigor, and joy in computer science education. It is meant to be adaptable to serve the needs of coaches and others who do coaching activities in our school community.
This card deck is for coaches and coach trainers along with anyone else involved in CS program development or CS teacher development.
This deck may be utilized in flexible ways:
- Inform: It can be used to develop learning activities for individuals, professional learning communities, or coach development programs.
- Plan: It can provide guidance to practicing coaches as a tool for brainstorming and planning.
- Organize: Coaches can utilize cards as in-the-moment cues and tools for teacher collaboration to stay on track during coaching sessions.
During the beta phase, we will not be providing specific instructions for use of the cards. Rather, we are using this time to gather information about the many ways that practitioners would like to use the cards and integrate them into existing practices. Feedback from the beta phase will lead to the development of detailed guidance for different use cases.
Many of the terms used in this toolkit are identified in the CSTA Standards Glossary. Head here when you come across unfamiliar terms.
Many of the terms and acronyms can be defined by reviewing their related resources in the next section.
- CS – Computer Science
- CT – Computational Thinking
- UDL – Universal Design for Learning
- CRE – Culturally Responsive Education
- PBL – Project Based Learning
- TIR – Teacher in Residence
- PLC – Professional Learning Community
Big Ideas and Themes
Below are descriptions for the Big Ideas and Themes of the Toolkit. The Toolkit was developed using research-validated strategies wherever possible. Click through the Big Ideas to see these resources. If you feel we’ve missed an attribution, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are four types of lenses that have been pulled from across different coaching models: Coaching Values, Mindsets & Concepts, Pedagogical Frameworks & Approaches, and Coaching Strategies.
The cards in this section have been designed to serve as lenses through which you view the rest of the deck. Select a lens card to focus your learning or planning and to filter your application of the other cards. Coaches might select one to two coaching lens cards based on an area of focus for their own practice or on the needs of a specific school or teacher.
Co-planning is a primary way that coaches can build relationships with teachers and help build their content knowledge and pedagogy. It occurs prior to classroom implementation in the coaching cycle as a time to choose curriculum, plan, modify, create curriculum resources, and review how lessons will be enacted. It is also the time to build in actions to improve from prior reflection sessions.
Co-planning is part of the coaching cycle.
During the classroom implementation part of the coaching cycle, the coach observes the teacher leading a lesson or activity. A coach, while ensuring a joyous and positive collaborative time with the teacher, focuses on building the teacher’s CS practice and pedagogy. A coach actively engages during lesson implementation through modeling, co-teaching, or observing to later provide feedback.
Classroom Implementation is part of the coaching cycle.
Reflection & Feedback
Reflection and feedback is a time when both the coach and teacher communicate about a lesson taught and then collaboratively design a set of actions or next steps to take during the next co-planning or teaching session.
Reflection & Feedback is part of the coaching cycle.
A coach’s role extends beyond the coaching cycle to expand CS education’s value within the school and system, to contribute to sustainable CS education for all students. A coach understands and explains this role to teachers and administrators and seeks opportunities to partner with educators to create systemic change. Coaches are lifelong learners who continue to engage in professional learning opportunities and engage with related local and national organizations.
These cards assist coaches in enacting the many layers of their role outside of the coaching cycle in relation to school and broader education systems. Not all roles in this big idea will apply to all types of coaches.
CS Teacher Moves
CS Teacher Moves are used by teachers and coaches to help improve instruction while teaching CS. These cards have explicit moves to create a culture of engaged CS learning and may be used at any time by a coach throughout the cycle.
These cards are specific actions to be used as reminders and introduce concrete methods for improving CS teaching and routines.
CS Teaching Strategies
CS Teaching Strategies are based in either practice or research. They have been spotlighted by CS ed communities, teachers, or researchers as being effective for improving students’ CS learning. They require planning and preparation.
These cards include strategies that can be adopted to make CS accessible and engaging for all students. They can help teachers create joyful and rigorous learning experiences.
Access, Equity & Inclusion
According the CSTA Standards for CS Teachers, “Effective CS teachers proactively advocate for equity and inclusion in the CS classroom. They work towards an intentional, equity-focused vision to improve access, engagement, and achievement for all of their students in CS.”
These cards include explicit strategies, tools, and/or pedagogies used towards achieving the goal of CS Education for all students in a classroom/school.
CS education is the strongest when presented as interconnected across different stakeholders and aspects in our society. Engaging stakeholders means both building CS community and utilizing community resources. Some stakeholders include: families, classrooms, local communities, business professionals, CS educators, university partners, and others.
These cards have been identified to guide CS educators and coaches to engage with community beyond the classroom. This includes cards related to engaging families, leveraging community resources for richer CS education, and utilizing professional networks.
Evidence and Research Based
Teaching and coaching strategies that demonstrate some evidence of potential for efficacy in one or more research studies are considered evidence-based or research-based.
These cards include coaching or teaching practices that have some form of research backing them up, though it may not yet be comprehensive.
“Look Fors” are specific events, words, moments, or actions that a coach can attend to in relation to CS teaching growth and proficiency.
These cards include prompts that can be used to guide the coach’s attention during the coaching cycle.
Teaching a new discipline and integrating CS into one’s domain will require continued professional growth. Exposing the teacher to the broader CS education community and developing a professional development plan with the teacher is essential in building their own understanding of the importance of Computer Science for all.
These cards include strategies like communities of practice and references to help a coach guide a teacher to develop a professional development plan.
About Us: K-12 Education Initiative at Cornell Tech
We are making computer science teachable
At Cornell Tech, CS coaches support teachers in learning computer science content and CS-specific teaching strategies through the lenses of equity, rigor and joy. By building deep, trusting coaching relationships with schools and educators, our coaches help create confidence, a sense of belonging, and improved teaching practice.
We are developing resources to make coaching a reality at every school.
Over the past six years, the K-12 Education team has had the opportunity to practice computer science coaching in different school environments and to conduct research related to our coaching. We have developed the Computer Science Coaching Toolkit Card Deck in order to describe our process and strategies to practitioners in a format that can be shared widely and used flexibly in response to the needs of different schools.
Cornell Tech is a campus of Cornell University. Cornell Tech’s mission begins with educating the next generation of tech leaders and advancing deep technology research and innovation. We seek to evolve our digital world with as much concern for the lives impacted by it as the economies that depend on it. We do this by increasing access and opportunity within the tech sector, engaging with communities locally and globally, and using our convening power to shape the future of inclusive and ethical technology.
Intro to CS Coaching Toolkit (To Code and Beyond 2021)