CAS Community Leader Paul Powell has been leading CAS meetings for several years. Claire Penketh, Senior Press Officer at BCS, asked him for a few of his top tips on how to run a good CAS session.
"I'm genuinely interested in this stuff and I think that really helps and comes across. Plus, making sure the sessions leave people with something they can take back and use in their own classrooms. My first top tip is to have an entry activity. My best session recently was about networking and, as soon as people walked in the door, I gave them something to do.
"Quite often at a CAS meeting you are waiting for people to turn up because people may have to travel far in order to attend. In this case I told them to work out how they would send a short message across a length of string with their eyes closed. It meant I could meet and greet people who were still arriving, or come back to people who had been doing the activity for a while and move them on to something else. It just kept the energy going right from the start. All the resources I use are ones that I have tried out before – but yeah, I've definitely had times when things have unexpectedly got in the way, and that is the same as when you are running any session for the first time.
"I came in to teaching relatively late in life at 35, following a career in industry. I know that changing from IT to a computer-science-based curriculum has been challenging for many people – but, for me, that was why I decided to become a teacher, because the curriculum really excited me. I felt I had a lot of experience to give.
"I did a Computer Science degree, worked as a C++ programmer, was made redundant during the dot.com crash; then I ended up being a systems administrator and building a network. Because it was a small company, I had to teach myself along the way.
"I think it means I'm good at doing practical things. When it comes to teaching kids, they can see how the theory can work in reality. For instance, a website can be constructed on a Notepad and then uploaded onto a Raspberry Pi. This means that suddenly the pupils can network to their friends' sites and it comes alive in a way that it might not have done otherwise. I think having that background knowledge means that I can simplify high-level stuff in a way that is interesting and relevant."
If you are inspired to run a CAS Community group in your area, please apply here