I’m one of the co-chairs of the Membership Committee. While all the committees are responsive to members, it’s our job to think about who our members are, what we can do to support them, and how to grow our membership. I joined CSTA about six years ago when I got my first job teaching Computer Science and I had no idea how I was going to do my job, exactly. Sure, there were things online I could refer to, but I needed real people to respond to my questions and reassure me that I wasn’t going to totally fail.
Joining CSTA got me on the email list immediately, which then meant I had thousands of teachers with a variety of experiences that I could tap into. Even if I just read the emails and didn’t directly ask questions of the list, I could get all kinds of information. Joining also gave me access to resources like the standards, curriculum resources, and research. All of these were helpful to me as I planned my courses.
Of course, I wanted to meet some CS teachers in the flesh, so I signed up for the annual conference, which happened to be fairly close by that year. The cost was so reasonable compared to other conferences I had been to in the past. I also signed up for hands-on workshops that gave me in-depth experience that is hard to get outside of a college classroom. The other sessions gave me ideas and information that I use to this day. More importantly, I met people that I am still connected to and often look forward to seeing every year.
After the conference, I found my local CSTA chapter, and became a regular attendee at their meetings where we could have regular conversations about teaching CS or hear speakers talk about different aspects of teaching. I’m still a regular participant in my local chapter, and its members are friends of mine that I regularly rely on for advice and who I look forward to seeing at our monthly meetings. It’s great that I don’t have to wait for the next annual conference to talk with fellow CS teachers.
I have joined many professional organizations over the course of my career, but more than any other, CSTA feels like home. CSTA people are my people. I know when I am with them, they’re going to understand me and be willing to help. Many CS teachers are the only CS teachers in their schools or even districts. Having an affinity group like CSTA can make teachers not feel like they’re not so alone. Just that is extremely important for teachers.
As a co-chair of the Membership Committee, I ask you to think about what membership in CSTA means to you. What has being a member given you? As you think about it, you might be surprised to find out how much you benefit from your CSTA connections. And if you’re not a member, what are you waiting for? Join now!