One of our phenomenal Give Chances high school volunteer tutors, Sean Yoon, shared his experiences teaching a coding class for students at Give Chances.
Sean attends a high school based in New Jersey, and has received education and training in programming languages since middle school. He shares his experiences, from difficulties to rewarding moments, in his reflections below.
This was my first-time teaching coding to a class and although there were difficulties in teaching, I am very grateful for this opportunity that Give Chances has given me. I have learned Python since when I was in middle school. Often, I find myself learning from others as I am growing and adapting into the world. After finding my passion and obtaining more knowledge about it, I grew the urge to share what I learned. While first learning about Python, I was nervous and excited at the same time and had big visions of myself creating a big virtual reality game. But first, I had to learn the basics of coding. At first, all the simple and fundamental components of coding seemed like an intricate puzzle I had to piece together. So, of course, I did not fully understand everything. However, while learning about it one by one, I began to be able to create things I imagined as writing in code, and I got fascinated by it. Now I am able to teach everything about Python and want others to feel the joyfulness of coding like me. This is the first reason why I’m teaching coding to a class. Moreover, as I am preparing for my lessons that I teach every week, I am constantly learning new things that I overlooked beforehand. The world has just experienced difficult times and is attempting to recover. In the education perspective, the entire way of teaching has altered. The traditional textbooks and exams have been transformed into a digital version. During this time period, as a student, I was able to become comfortable with all these online tools. This online learning experience has prepared me for the class that I am teaching right now. I did not have to learn how to use zoom and all its complex functions. On the other hand, teaching an entire class is something that I am not very assimilated to.
I ran into some problems that I did not expect. The students were all on different levels. For example, some were complete beginners, while others have already learned parts of Python. It was hard to adjust to everyone’s level and check on everyone’s code on zoom. Everyone sharing screens one by one would take too long and I can’t not check on everyone’s progress. I was in this predicament for a while until I decided to rotate the students each week. Also, I focused more on the ones falling behind in the beginning, so that they can catch up and all can be on the same track. It’s not every student that gets to be in the teacher’s shoes. Up until now, I never understood why teachers liked it when the students engaged in the class or why teachers had a hard time teaching online. But when I started this class, I immediately understood all the teachers’ opinions. The silence of the students and the struggles of knowing whether the students were paying attention or not was something that I did not enjoy, but I was so glad when students asked questions and actively participated in the class. This experience was just like when an adult tells you that you will understand later. It turns out that the adult was right, I did understand the teacher’s position.
Since this was the first time I had taught in a class like this, I was going on this journey blind, into a dark tunnel that got lighter as I gained little experience each week. For the future, I would like to be able to find the medium between the difference in levels that the students have. I would like to thank Give Chances for this incredible opportunity that they gave me. Through this I was able to learn numerous things.