Being a programmer forces you to grow continuously. People learn something new every day in many different ways: from articles, books, videos, courses, etc. Yet, there is one more great option to get knowledge. As you may guess by the title of this article – it’s through teaching others. Over the time of being an instructor of InfoShare Academy and CodersPro courses, I’ve learned some lessons that I want to share with you.
Lesson one: preparation
A few months ago, I got my first opportunity to give lectures about AngularJS to a bigger audience at Infoshare Academy. I agreed to do it without thinking too much and started to prepare a plan. I had to do (re)research for the things I already knew because this time I was focusing on something different. I didn’t have to learn about Angular but I needed to see HOW other people share their knowledge about the subject. This gave me an overall view of the topics that I had to cover. It was my revision and I already had a plan written down in my notes. The overall part was done. Now it was time for the details.
Lesson two: estimation
Next step was to cut the plan into smaller parts for each day and estimate how long it will take to meet the foundation. Without much experience, I was scared that I won’t have enough materials to talk about so I prepared a whole bunch of exercises and slides.
The first day of being an instructor came around, and what I found out was that I overestimated a lot! The things that I had prepared – that was simply too much, but I had my feedback so I could make further steps to improve it.
Lesson three: continuous improvement
Plan A was not so perfect. Improvements have to be done all the time – and it was the right time to make one of them. I had to shorten my to-do list by more than a half. It was very hard to resign from certain topics, but it had to be done. What I actually did was share materials with my students at the end of the course, so they could view them at home if they wanted to.
Lesson four: questions (never) asked
It was not only me speaking. During the live coding session there were many questions from the audience and what I realized was that I’ve never asked these questions myself. When I learn something new alone I have a lot of doubts and I ask myself how a certain thing works, but sometimes I just miss some points and leave them without answers. They were like the missing puzzles that the audience seemed to have.
Lesson five: good approach
What is a good approach to teaching someone something? Everybody’s perception is different and things get into our minds in many different ways. We learn as the connections between our neurons get stronger, but they need good input to be activated. That’s how our brains work. This was something I had to improve as well: to make my students remember what they learn. I had to create good input, so the next time I was preparing presentations for another group I added… funny memes and gifs. It helped a lot! People associated these with what happened later during the live coding session and answered my questions more frequently. Things started to connect way better for them and for me too!
Lesson six: interaction
I’ve noticed that the audience needs some questions too. After explaining something I tried to force them to think about what they just heard. Teachers in schools use this technique to verify who’s in standby mode and who keeps listening, but that was not my point. I tried to hear the answer before I typed it by myself. What was even more interesting was that when one person gave back an answer, the rest of the group started to speak as well!
Lesson seven: real life
Most people sign up for coding bootcamps not only because they want to learn how to code. They want to get a real job in this field. So I scrolled some open source projects to show how those things work out in real-life examples and, well, it made a big difference. Students were able to point the things they had learned before. It made them more confident and happy when they saw that these things were actually useful.
Lesson eight: teaching is hard
I give some lectures from time to time and I have to prepare to them no matter how many times I’ve already presented a similar topic. There is always something to improve and it’s just hard. Now, please remember – there are people who do it every day and they try to share their knowledge the best they can. This may not be the easiest, but for sure it’s an awesome and inspiring experience to see how people grow knowing that you were a part of that.