Originally published on https://www.dragosgn.com/on-teaching-part-I/
Last September, I joined the ESMT Coding Bootcamp as a Teaching Assistant. My role consists of supporting students on their full-stack learning journey. I do this either during class or through one to one personalized sessions. I took the job without thinking twice. Finally, an opportunity to develop, learn and inspire the next generation of developers, a no brainer.
Our students are a very diverse crowd. We have 10+ nationalities, different ages, genders, and goals. But they all share a common trait; they are determined, ambitious, and eager to build a career in tech. Many times it was their motivation that kept me on track.
Six months after, I must say the experience has been one of the most rewarding in my professional career. Supporting individuals on their learning journey offers you a unique perspective on learning. Seeing the difficulty of being in the driver’s seat when learning software helps you become a more empathetic leader. Despite all the great material, courses, and boot camps available out there, learning software is still hard. The multitude of tools, frameworks, and patterns frightens even the bravest. And let’s not even get into syntax.
As software engineers, we operate in abstract worlds. We learn to translate real-world problems into something that a machine can understand and execute. It is within that process of navigating abstractions that the “real” impact of your work gets distorted.
Teaching is nothing like that. Receiving thank you emails in the middle of the night from students that, through your support, finally managed to solve that hard compiling error is priceless. It goes far beyond financial compensation or career advancement; it is a job well done.
Like any human relationship, empathy and understanding are the keys to success. You must understand what students are struggling with, how do they feel, and what is their approach to solving the issue. It is only after that you can advise, correcting direction using the Socratic dialogue in the quest for a solution. You will soon learn that to teach is to listen.
Handling two jobs might be a bit exhausting; you will have to sacrifice personal time and feel tired at times. Nevertheless, the experience is worth every minute. So start right now. If you don’t have the opportunity to do it in a class format, try to help somebody that’s at the beginning of their learning curve. If you are a software engineer interested in leadership, teaching is a perfect fist step for further development.
As for me, I am immensely proud of our students and looking forward to graduation!