DEV Community

Cover image for My 'X' and 'Why' Story
Kailana Kahawaii
Kailana Kahawaii

Posted on

My 'X' and 'Why' Story

This is my WHY story of why I chose Flatiron School.

But it's also a little bit of an X story. More on that in a moment!

After graduating college, I found myself flung headfirst into teaching through Teach for America. As many new teachers may tell you, I experienced many triumphs and many setbacks. Teaching at a low income school in Hawai’i challenged me in a way that nothing has since, but as the years rolled by, I found myself longing for a more creative career. Don’t get me wrong! Teaching can be creative, but I like the feeling of building things, of creating something from nothing, and teaching never really did that for me. Sure, I could create an awesome lesson, but more often than not, I found myself having to cater to testing standards (yuck!) and spending way too long in meetings that were barely productive. I knew I wanted something else for myself, but leaving a tenured position was frightening.

The thing was, I hated the feeling of running in place, and that's exactly what I felt for the last five years. It felt like I was running in place, that even though I was in the classroom everyday, I wasn't making enough of a difference. I called it my X feeling. Just like any other variable, I knew I had potential, but I just hadn't realized it yet!

Enter Summer 2019.

I had the opportunity to move to Seattle. I quickly scoured the Internet for jobs. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), I did not qualify for many of them. Although there were a ton of jobs in the Seattle area, my English degree did not go as far as would have liked. I knew that I wanted to take my life in a new direction, but I also knew I would need the expertise to get me there. I put my job search on hold and researched coding bootcamps, something I had heard of but never really looked into. Flatiron caught my eye for its diversity and full stack curriculum.

The decision seemed to click. As a teacher, I often daydreamed about creating software that was meaningful to my teaching process. Even though I taught at a low-income school, students had access to Chromebooks in most classrooms, including my own. As an English teacher, this was a godsend because writing essays by hand is a painful and tedious experience (college exams, I’m looking at you). But a Chromebook, or any computer for that matter, was not simply a replacement for a paper or pen. Through professional development, I learned about ISTE standards and how both students and educators could maximize the potential of technology to promote equity and advocacy. I also realized that my current use of technology in the classroom was barely scratching the surface of what I could accomplish as an educator.

I know what you’re probably thinking: if you liked teaching so much, why did you leave it? And I wonder, does someone ever really stop being a teacher? In my time so far as a Flatiron student, I’ve found myself teaching others, and especially, teaching myself.

Technology seemed to hold so much opportunity, and I wanted to be part of it. I couldn’t see myself being a teacher without technology, which was exactly the reason why I needed to learn more about it.

Like my classroom, I saw a lot of potential in my home state, especially ways to implement technology in order to enhance sustainability. However, there just didn't seem to be enough innovation, and there weren't many opportunities for young people like me to be part of that process, especially on the neighbor islands. To me, Hawai'i seemed to be in an X phase, too, and it would need young people to bring out that potential.

But WHY move to the Pacific Northwest in the middle of winter from the tropical Hawaiian climate?

I wanted to be where the action was, and surrounded by people who were passionate about how technology could improve lives. And I also wanted to experience snow and take a break from the 90 degree heat.

So was it worth it?

After about a month at Flatiron, I can say it was! Instead of stagnating, I am sprinting. I am closer to my dream of building education apps, but more importantly, of realizing an equitable, sustainable future. Perhaps the least surprising thing about this process was that I couldn’t have done it alone. The classmates, teachers, coaches at Flatiron and even my former students back home have all challenged and motivated me to try my best. And I now know the reason why I need to, too: to make Hawai'i and perhaps the whole world a little bit of a better place. So, that's the story of how I got rid of my X feeling by discovering my WHY.

Top comments (1)

ponyjackal profile image

I got inspired,
Thanks, Kailana