Teacher Helping Students Working At Computers In Classroom So, maybe you have a smart student in one of your classes who can’t stop talking about computers. They tell you about the website they’re working on, the new software they’re mastering, or maybe even just how excited they are about the doors that strong IT skills can unlock.

How can you encourage this intelligent and curious student to pursue an academic path in IT? And, how can you then encourage this same individual to transition into a career in IT? We hope that the following suggestions might lend you some new insights about cultivating the “IT-Inclined” student in your class.

Of course, becoming a mentor can, as you know, be a relatively time-consuming experience. Along with your many other tasks and responsibilities, you most likely have limited time to pursue acting as an IT mentor. Depending on the subject you teach, see if there are any IT-oriented students in your classes and if you think they need an extra nudge toward an IT path.

  1. Voice Your Support

This may seem too obvious—but you don’t want to just “emanate support.” Unless you say something encouraging to this IT-oriented student, it might not occur to them to think about pursuing an academic pathway towards a degree in IT.

  1. Present Your Student With Critical Information

Most middle and high school students are constantly attached to some form of technology—whether it’s social media or online game play. It’s important that teachers guide their IT-inclined students in the right direction, so they don’t run into a dead-end with their explorations.

Offer to have a conversation with your student about their IT interests. Then, based on these interests, present your student with some concrete information about next steps.  Recommend a class (like statistics, beginning programming, physics, web design), a program, or even outside reading material that might help them on their journey. Additionally, students can always take a continuing education course, or even an online course that many universities are now offering for free.  The University of Washington, Stanford, etc. are now offering free online computer science and technology courses like Game Theory, Introduction to Logic, Software Engineering and more through Coursera.

  1. Help Set Goals

This Atlantic Monthly article mentions the importance of setting long-term goals for students.  Help your IT-interested student develop some short and long-term goals for their academic path in IT. Then, help them identify the necessary steps to reach these goals.

  1. Check in Periodically

While many students work well in a self-directed fashion, many others need periodic support and guidance. After your initial conversation, set touchback times to talk with your student about their progress.