Next teaching plans

I'm preparing my next course at the moment. Another introduction to Python for beginners, but in a different context: this is for a group of political sciences students, who use R for statistical simulations and are encouraged to look up Python for the next level of that module.

...Well I hope to be teaching them, we're having a bit of a hiccup securing a room at the moment! In any case, I'm reshuffling my material to use the feedback received last time as well as insights from a couple of education articles and books I've been looking at. It's a different angle from what I've done before: although they need to learn programming basics they'll also clearly want to be able to solve some specific problems on their own afterwards. I hope to find a way to satisfy this. One of the great issues I'm encountering when teaching is how difficult it is for students to decompose a problem into smaller manageable steps; I hope to include some level of doing this from the very beginning... We'll see how it works.

What would I like to do next, after that?

Crash courses

I mentioned them last year and people loved the idea, but end of years being what they are it didn't happen then. Someone pinged me about it again this month though, and it generated so much interest before that I'm really keen on preparing that one. Once I have the format worked out, it should be very easy to repeat it many times (and considering the number of people that expressed an interest in the past that definitely wouldn't hurt!) because it won't be a time-consuming one -- an afternoon -- which is quite exciting.

Teaching young people

This is what I "meant to do next" after my last course already :/ Adult courses are so much easier to organise: someone expresses an interest, I get excited to see someone interested, we plot when to set it up and it's obvious it'll be in the evening because I have a job and they have a job, other people join -> learning!

When I was talking to schools on the other hand, the schedule where they could fit me clashed thoroughly with work (between the time to teach and the time to get there and back), and sometimes they also suggested I teach as part of the mandatory computer class, which is not something I'm quite ready for (teaching a full class of uninterested teenagers... nope!). I was also very excited when I visited the Computer Clubhouse and talked with the people there, but unfortunately I have to admit I work too far and presently it would be too stressful to try to make it there on time to do something interesting before they close.

I'll have to think hard about this and figure something out (post-first crash course runs, though!). Summer camps could also be an option.

Teaching girls

This is an idea I've been toying with for a while and once I figure out the scheduling bit I want to give it a shot as well. I'm seeing many accounts that suggest knowing one will "not be the only girl" helps removing the intimidation factor and get interested girls to join a computing or programming class.

(Doesn't mean I'd stop teaching mixed classes, I still can't resist the appeal of someone interested wanting to learn :))

Teaching students

That's something I mentioned briefly here before, the idea of teaching an introduction to programming using Python to college CS students before their course begins, particularly targeting minorities to level up the playing field (and here's a blog post on the topic I linked to before). I've also been flipping through 'Unlocking the clubhouse' lately for references and I'm disheartened to link some of what I read to women I know who were initially interested in CS but dropped out just recently.

Initially when I started wanting to teach young people, my hope was to be an evident living proof for all genders that of course there are women who are enthusiastic about programming, and hopefully encourage a few girls to consider it as a career choice. I feel a bit like I've fallen short of my goal, though it's possible I'm just being too impatient :)


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