Leading by example

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Setting an example for our students is something every teacher strives for each day. That is why I have decided if I am going to preach the importance of learning new skills to my students they I had better put up or shut up! 

I studied coding almost 20 years ago. The program was tough and it was based mostly on memorizing syntax and everything was text-based. Now that I know more about what kind of learner I am, I know that this method of teaching did not suit me. This is probably why I switched to Networking half way through the program. Networking allowed me to work with my hands and build physical things. It was easy to understand when something didn't work. However, in software development I couldn't always see the problem which made understanding the different coding concepts difficult. 

 

However, when I started to introduce my students to coding back in 2014 I was able to use visual tools like Code.org and various iPad apps. Three years later I am much more comfortable teaching coding concepts to my students. Whenever we face a difficult challenge I am not afraid to say "I don't know" or "Let's find the answer together." 

I discovered Code.org while researching digital storytelling. I was fascinated by the methods used to teach kids to code. The syntax was replaced with colorful blocks and the problems were based on cute characters. But most importantly, it was fun. If I had learned to code this way 20 years ago, I may be working as a professional in the IT industry instead of the classroom. After completing most of the activities on Code.org I wanted to see if I could get back into coding after being out of practice for so long.

So I searched around online and found CodeAcademy.com. There were several coding languages to chose from and it was free. I started JavaScript and enjoyed the tutorials at first. It wasn’t too difficult. It was pretty much a copy and paste kind of lesson in the beginning. However, not far into the course things changed. Suddenly I had to remember specific syntax and concepts that I had only reviewed breifly in the beginning. I found myself constantly going back to previous lessons to review. This took a lot of time and effort and still I wasn’t making much progress. So I quit. I’m not blaming the quality of the lessons. The style of learning didn’t fit me. 

This ritual continued for a few years. Almost every week I would find a new course that promised to help me go from beginner to professional coder in no time. But, the end result would be the same. The style of learning would not match my own. 

As disppointed as I was, a lot of good came out of those failures. I learned that if I was struggling with theses tutorials, maybe my students would as well. So I made sure to supplement our basic coding lessons with several unplugged activities to support all my students unique learning styles. 

But I felt something was missing. I still wanted to learn more advanced coding so I could design my own apps for my classes.  

It took a long time but I believe I have found the course that offers a teaching style that fits my own. More importantly I am more motivated to learn than ever before. Maybe it's because I am looking at a career change or maybe it's because I am met so people in the IT industry that have been nothing but encouraging. Whatever the reason, learning to code will be a big part of my life for a long time!

Stay tuned for more updates on my coding adventure!