First off — I’m not going to make you Einstein. And even you could be him; I don’t know how good of a teacher he is. And now that it’s out of the way let’s get started.
Oh my god, where do I even start? OK, let’s get it out — most teachers don’t know how to teach! It’s true; they don’t.
You’re probably asking yourself — who am I to speak? What are my credentials? What skills in my resume? Well, let me introduce myself:
- I used to be a rapper. This means I used to be on stage — a lot, and I know how to handle and captivate the audience.
- I used to be a high school teacher (1 year only, but I enjoyed it) when I was 22 years old. I know that’s young, but that should tell you a little bit about my skill set.
- I am a lecturer in colleges. I teach people with no experience in coding how to code — like we say — from zero to hero. I’ve been doing that for more than 4 years.
- The most important thing — I am a student, all the time. I am constantly learning new coding techniques, new languages, and new things — every day. That made me understand how I want to be taught.
That being said, I want to make it absolutely clear — I am not saying teachers are bad or stupid — I am simply saying that they don’t know how to make the material simple and accessible to everyone.
While some people can learn simply by reading a technical guide, the majority simply can’t. As a teacher — that is my goal; those are the ones I am trying to reach. They are the ones with difficulty.
Ok, so here we go; get ready because this is going to shock you!
Tip number 1 — LOVE
like the song says:
All you need is love…
yep, no doubt about it. You can’t run away from it. You need LOVE. You need love for the trade. Love makes you enthusiastic. And it shows pretty quickly. When someone talks about something they love, you can tell you have to love to teach and love what you're teaching.
Tip number 2— KYS
first, we had love, and now we KYS. OMG — where are we going with this ;)? so what is KYS?
Know Your Stuff!
If you want to teach something — you have to do it yourself first. If you’re teaching a new piece of code — do it before the lesson, see if something goes wrong, if you get a bug — use it. Use it to teach them. Teach them why it happened, how to avoid it, and how to fix it.
I can tell you from experience — your students will learn so much more if you insert a bug into the code, and they have to fix it. So don’t be afraid of bugs. bugs are good; bugs are our friends :)
Tip number 3 — Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
let’s be clear — if you have confidence — you can probably fake the second tip ;) but don’t do it — all the time. I’m guilty of doing it quite a few times.
But what are self-confidence and self-esteem?
The terms self-confidence and self-esteem are often conflated. Confidence is a measure of faith in one’s own abilities; esteem is about our sense of self. It involves both thoughts and emotions and influences how we perceive others and interact with the world
If you don’t have it, listen carefully — there is no easy way of being confident. You have to work on it. How? Ask a friend to talk to you about what you're going to teach. Ask him to sit while you stand and go through everything.
Then ask 2 friends, then 3 and 4… do it again and again. When are you going to stop? It’s easy — when you feel like everyone is looking at you, and instead of being nervous, you feel like your the king of the world, and they are eating from the palm of your hand — you're done! You're ready for it! That’s how you get confidence.
Now you’ve entered a loop — you see — self-confidence leads to a successful experience, and a successful experience leads to self-confidence.
Now self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. We usually have an opinion on ourself that’s based on other peoples opinion. That’s messed up! You have to trust yourself, and you have to know that what you’re doing is good!
You have to say 1 thing every day — I AM WORTH IT! you have to take care of your body and mind!
Watch youtube videos like this. Some you’ll like, some not. It doesn’t matter because some will work and affect you!.
I LOVE Will Smith; he has an ability with words that I envy! Check out his videos like this one. Trust me; you can’t lose if you have the prince of bel air at your side :).
I love to do before I have to lecture to take a shower, shave, put on nice clothes and all of my jewelry, and you know why? Cause looking good makes you feel good. and hey, I’m a rapper — I love me some Bling Bling…
Tip number 4— Make It Simple
this is the last tip I have for you. I am teaching people how to code, so that I will give examples from my coding experience, but you can use it in whatever field you’re teaching.
There are a few steps in how to make it simple.
- Is the subject easy or hard? it doesn't matter! When you’re going to explain a subject — it doesn't matter if it’s hard or easy. Why? Because hard and easy are subjective words. They are based on your own learning curve. You don’t know if it’s easy or hard for them, so always assume that what you are teaching — is hard for everyone.
- Examples and lots of them. A good explanation has examples, good, easy examples. Just do me one favour — make sure you create different examples that could illustrate the entire subject and not just one piece.
- Analogies — use them! What is an analogy? An analogy is saying something is like something else to make some explanatory point. For example, “Life is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get.” You can use metaphors and similes when creating an analogy.
- Don’t reuse — when students ask you a question; you can’t give the same example as an answer. They didn’t understand it the first time, and they won’t understand the same thing the second time. You have to give different examples and analogies every single time until they understand it, and that leads me to the next step:
- Get creative. You have to get creative with your examples and analogies and bring examples from real life. Even they aren’t related to the same topic but can be used as an analogy.
- Say the student's names once in a while. Every 15 minutes or so, I would say a student’s name. no reason whatsoever in the middle of a vital subject — let’s say Async, I would say — Alex… How was your lunch? Now, why would I do that? First of all, it makes them alert because they don’t know if you're going to call them. And secondly, it makes them laugh that all of a sudden you would ask that.
- Be Patient — The most important one. One of the more frequent things I hear in my classes is — I don’t understand, can you explain it again? Hell yeah, I can again and again until you understand. That’s exactly what I said. Let me give you an example of what I mean by being patient.
I was teaching a C# course in a college here. At the beginning of the course, one student asked me what getters and setters are. The subject was OOP Concepts and particularly encapsulation. So it was relevant. He understood. or so we thought—fast forward a few classes to the IClonable interface. I gave an example of a simple class, and he asks me — Liraz, what do getters and setters mean? What do they do? I found it an odd question. But I explained again. This kept happening almost every other week. What are getters and setters? I was baffled. Was he serious? I kept answering the same question again and again. Finally, I gave up and recorded my answer on my laptop. I sent it to him and told him — whenever you feel like asking this question — DON’T! just hit play :)
The point is to be patient — as much as you possibly can.
Make It FUN
this is a bonus tip — it’s not meant for everyone.
Be Funny — this is a big thing. When people laugh, they enjoy things, even hard things. Make a few jokes, be silly. It’s ok, your just a person — not GOD! Don’t be so serious.
To sum everything up:
- KYS — Know Your Stuff
- Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
- Make It Simple
- Have some fun
follow these guidelines, and I can guarantee that you and you're students will enjoy it. When your students graduate and continue in their lives — you can bet that if someone asks them about a good teacher — they will be thinking of you.