- The Events Calendar: Save 20% on any premium add-ons using code HOWIBUILTIT.
- Pantheon: Get ready for Gutenberg. Sign up for a FREE account today.
Tessa Kriesel is a developer, community advocate, and educator. In this episode we get into our approaches to teaching, why it’s important, and the importance of giving opportunities to underserved areas and groups. We also discuss our “aha” moments – that time where programming suddenly clicked for us.
- Tessa Kriesel
- Outspoken Women
- Coders of Tomorrow
- Coder Dojo
- Josh Koenig and Pantheon
Intro: Hey Everybody and welcome to episode 87 of How I Built It. Today I get to talk to my friend Tessa Kriesel about 2 things I love: Development and teaching. We get into our approaches to teaching, why it’s important, and giving opportunities to underserved areas and groups. We also discuss our “aha” moments – that time where programming suddenly clicked for us. Today’s episode is brought to you by The Events Calendar and Pantheon, both of whom you’ll hear about later. So now, on with the show.
Joe Casabona: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, “How did you build that?”
I am very happy to have my good friend Tessa Kriesel on the show today. Tessa, how are you?
Tessa Kriesel: I am fabulous. Thank you for having me.
Joe: Thanks for being on the show. You are a woman of many hats. We were discussing pre-show what we’re going to talk about. You work for Pantheon, and you teach development, and you have a website called Outspoken Women.
We’re going to talk about that middle one, but why don’t you tell everybody who you are and what you do?
Tessa: To summarize what you already said, I work at Pantheon, I’m a developer advocate. The things that I focus on are making sure that people are successful in our platform. Outside of my role at Pantheon, I have a lot of passions when it comes to teaching people to code in general. Specifically women and children and anyone who is in a group that feels like they need to find assets, or it’s more difficult to find those kinds of assets.
Obviously very passionate about diversity and women in tech, which is where Outspoken Women comes along, and I’ve played a huge role in Girl Develop It locally in the Minneapolis chapter. So, lots to know about me.
Joe: Fantastic, and all awesome causes. I know that I’ve gotten just a little bit of flak for not having a very diverse show myself. And part of that is, it’s hard to find diverse guests. Especially programmers who are also business owners, that’s a very narrow market.
Your website Outspoken Women has helped with that and it’s nice to see that there’s a bigger movement to have more voices in the community. Which is what all of this is about, right?
Tessa: Yeah, absolutely.
Joe: If you want to learn more about Pantheon, I’ll say, because we can have a whole show on that– as a matter of fact we did have a whole show on that with the CEO of Pantheon. I will link that in the show notes.
So, let’s talk about teaching development as the overarching topic, and Coders of Tomorrow specifically within that. Tell us how you came up with this idea, and essentially what it is and how you started it.
Tessa: Coders of Tomorrow is a nonprofit organization that is in the very early stages locally here in Minneapolis. What it is, and essentially what it does, is it teaches kids to code. It came about, I was in the Girl Develop It chapter and I was helping a lot of women to code. We were going through the whole election with Hillary and Trump, and obviously there’s a lot of– I don’t know the good word for it. Just a lot of tension there.
And so it came to me, I was like, “Kids are so innocent.” My own kids loved to learn stuff. Like, “I don’t want to deal with people that are–” Not that I don’t, but I just wanted to hang out with a bunch of cool people that just wanted to learn to code that didn’t have to worry about other things in their life politically, especially.
So that’s when it came about, and I ended up teaching two different classes of kids originally. We can get into that in a bit, but that’s essentially how I decided to build up that that product. Or, that organization I should say.
Joe: Sweet. I mean, I love that because politics can get very hairy. I try not to talk about politics on this show at all. I think I’ve done a pretty good job. But I mean, it could change people’s opinions about you.
So, I love the teaching kids. I know on Twitter people are like, “What am I supposed to tell my 6 year old daughter about the election?” When I was 6 I cared very little about anything, really.
Tessa: Yeah, exactly. Youth have innocence.
Yeah, exactly. This is great. What’s the age range for the kids that you teach?
Tessa: It really depends. The first class that I taught was actually, I believe it was 8th through 11th graders. They were in that high school realm, which was interesting. I’ve also taught a younger group that is more middle school ages. I’m hoping to be able to grow and teach actually younger kids, I’ve done a lot with my own kids personally to teach them the introductions to programming, and things. So, yeah. Hoping for it to grow.
Joe: Awesome. I’m going to have several more questions about this, because I’ve thought about, “How do you approach teaching children, specifically?” With an adult you can say, “We’ll watch these videos and now we understand some certain concepts,” but it’s a little bit different with kids. I have a 14-month old and I’m not teaching her how to code yet, but it’s definitely in the back of my mind. I definitely want her to at least have the option to do that.
But first, did you do any research when you were starting this? Or were you just like, “This is cool. I haven’t seen anything, I’m going to do this.”
Tessa: I did actually do a little bit of research. There is CoderDojo, which is pretty widely known. They’re a really great organization that does something very similar. There are other organizations in different areas, so there wasn’t anything that that I could find that was more nationwide. There was a program, and I can remember it was called or where it was at, but it was a lot of the things that I really wanted to do.
I definitely looked at that organization. I was like, “This is really great. This is something I want to bring to Minneapolis.” It’s slightly different, but what I really wanted to do is I actually wanted to be able to have an offering as an after school activity. Why it got to that point was that the first class that I taught ended up actually being that way.
What happened is it was a class of students, they were like I said middle school, high school students. Mostly high school, and they were from a school that was, I would say, 85% Hispanic. Which is fairly uncommon in Minneapolis, we have some diversity but we’re lacking a really wide diversity here.
Joe: Yeah. Stereotypically, it’s like Prince is the only non-white person from Minneapolis. Or from Minnesota, rather.
Tessa: I mean, it’s partially true. We do struggle with diversity here for sure, so teaching in that type of a school was very unique. A lot of the students were troubled students. I mean, I saw some of the saddest things, and I’m going to try not to think about it because it makes me want to cry. Anything from like, kids who just didn’t even barely have shoes.
I just, I wanted to get– They had shoes, but they’re just so, so destroyed and whatever else. Anyways, so I ended up getting really involved with those students specifically and realizing that this was actually something that was keeping them from being out doing things on the street or getting in trouble. Or being at home when home actually isn’t a great place for them.
So that’s where I wanted to focus a lot of the energy, was offering an after school curriculum. Kids can stay, it’s convenient for them to stay, making sure that they had whatever that meant that they were safe, instead of being out doing things that they shouldn’t be doing.
Joe: Man, that’s great. So, after school activity. This is probably also something that lends itself really well to a summer camp sort of thing, right? Kids are home, and parents might be going crazy because their kids are home, and bored. I wish–
Tessa: I was going to say, that summer camp thing was actually a huge idea that we have not followed through with yet, and it’s really due to just lack of manpower. I do a lot of stuff myself and it’s really hard to get the people that can help me do that.
But that was one really huge idea that myself and, his name is Andrew Wilson. He actually also works for Pantheon. He helped get involved and has been helping ignite the energy, which is great.
We talked about a summer camp because, “Why not kick off with a summer camp? Get some foundational. Get out, do something, don’t be stuck at home playing video games or whatever. Get out of your house.” So, we very much want to make that happen.
Joe: Yeah, definitely. I mean, and then show kids that you can code a little bit but then spend some time outside and have an outside activity as well, because you know the stereotypical programmer just sits in front of their computer for 14 hours.
In any case, this is incredible. I have a lot of questions about this, so let’s just to get to the title question early. When teaching children, as I said, it’s a little bit different than teaching adults. How did you build the curriculum for Coders of Tomorrow.
Tessa: Actually, I feel like teaching children is definitely different because you can’t assume things that they might know, in terms of, “This is how you go save something on a computer,” or, I mean they’ve got some exposure to it but they don’t have the day-to-day use that most adults have.
So when building out the curriculum I just took it really slow, and there’s tons of websites out there that are super great for teaching you to code. W3Schools is super awesome, you can go ahead and dig through it, actually do coding examples, things like that.
What I did was I made an outline of the foundational things that I wanted them to be able to learn, and what I found out was most successful was figuring out a way to get them something on the internet as quick as possible. Because as soon as they could FTP something to the internet and see that live online, that was a huge turning point for them.
I had students come into the class like, I could tell that they were just– they have to take a curriculum, an after-school curriculum class at this school. And so I could tell that they were there just because they had to do it, and it was like the least worst one. Or like, the less of the evil of all the others.
Once I got them to a point of being able to like just push up a really quick HTML on the internet, it was a complete 360 turnaround. Everyone is excited to come, they wanted to be there, they started wanting to be my friend, they would actually chat with me.
I learned that quickly, that they needed something to be able to see. Teaching them the basic foundations of HTML like, “This is how you create an HTML document, here’s how you create a header, here’s a paragraph,” and that’s the bare minimum to, of course, create a website. So I’m teaching them that, and then I’m like, “Ok cool, we’re going to come back to this, but I want you to see that you can very easily get these files on the internet.”
And so we just walked through, at the very bare minimum, a server, how to connect to FTP, how to actually push those files over and doing that. Once we got through that, then we came back and we’re like, “Ok, let’s learn more age HTML. Let’s learn some CSS.”.
It was just taking the foundational things and figuring out what was going to trigger their happiness, and then moving forward. CSS is another thing that also triggered their happiness. Kids like to be creative, and they really enjoyed putting GIFs on their website, and images, and making things colorful.
It really was just a work in progress, too. In the beginning I had an idea, and as the days or classes went on, I started to change those a little bit as I realized that them seeing the actual end effect was more important to them.
Sponsor: This episode is brought to you by Pantheon. WordPress 5.0 and the new editor, Gutenberg, are coming. Are you prepared? Do you want to learn about the changes in advance? Pantheon has gathered resources to help you prepare including webinars and tutorials. Pantheon has also made it easy and free to try Gutenberg with your site before the official launch. Visit pantheon.io/gutenberg. Let them how How I Built It sent you!
Joe: Gotcha. I mean, some little victories right in the beginning. It’s like when you design a test, you don’t make the hardest question the first question, you want to give them an easy question in the beginning because it’ll build their confidence, and be like, “This isn’t so bad.” That’s awesome.
I probably know the answer to this question already, but you mentioned servers. Did you use Pantheon for the servers as the underlying architecture? Or were you like, “Get some cheap hosting over here.”
Tessa: I actually did not use Pantheon.
Tessa: We just used a really– I have a VPS that I had set up so that each student could have their own website if they wanted, and so we use that just so that they could go ahead and use those websites. However on the flip side, very much could use Pantheon, it’s super easy to set up a site, and it’s obviously free until you want to go live for any WordPress sites.
That’s actually what I want to move forward to, is teaching kids how to start to blog, and do that with WordPress. They don’t necessarily need a lot of programming experience to do that, but just getting them involved with like, “How do I start to express myself?” I know that a lot of times kids really struggle with that, with being able to share their emotions or let them know what they’re thinking. I think that blogging and writing, in a journal or whatever, helps with that as well. I think that’s actually a really great avenue to move into as well. We would definitely use Pantheon in that case.
Joe: Yeah. Well, absolutely, and that’s why I asked. We could talk about this maybe at the bottom of the show, but you guys have some really good tools. Especially that could aid in the classroom, the technical side of teaching in the classroom.
So, let’s see. You started with a little bit of HTML, and then you taught them how to FTP to a server. You have a VPS, so I guess it– Was it like your own, was it like an IP address for them to access it? Or did you have your own domain pointing to that?
Tessa: For most of the students we just do an IP address, but I still created them subsidiary accounts so as long as they use IP they can log into their subsidiary account. In that particular class we never got to the point of actually doing domain names, because that’s about as far as we got for that year. But I think that it was set up in a way that they could easily just grab a domain name, or I could grab one for them, and actually assign that to that as well for them to be able to move onto.
That wasn’t really the idea of the class, of course that’s great if they could have a website one day, but the idea was like, “Programming is awesome. I want to expand.” I’m really doing it for the future. I spend a lot of time on diversity, working on diversity initiatives. Especially with women or with other race or whatever that might look like.
If I can focus my teaching on individuals like that, I’m helping the future. That’s exactly what this class was. It was a lot of a lot of diverse kids, as well as there actually was a lot of girls in there, and I was really excited about it.
Tessa: So the goal was to just get them excited about programming and hopefully that they’ve learned enough that they can go out, start to Google stuff like all the rest of us do, and actually make their own website.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, not having a domain, it’s not something I ever considered. But it’s interesting, and it very clearly demonstrates the need for a domain too. So if they’re like, “Hey, this is a really hard thing to remember. How do I fix that?” Maybe they can do that on their– You leave them wanting a little bit more, and then they say, “Oh. There are online courses that can help me do this, or that.”.
Have you considered using a tool like CodePen, or anything like that? I know when I teach my students at the college level, HTML and CSS for the first time, I create some examples on CodePen and I tell them to modify it. After a little primer, of course. I have a full semester to do that though, and it sounds like your main goal was to get them to repeat something and see, “Hey, I created this and now it’s available online.”
Tessa: Yeah, absolutely. I really like CodePen, and we did actually use CodePen for a couple examples. For the kids, it was a little bit easier mainly because there are some restrictions with school computers, so sometimes they’re restricted in terms of internet, sometimes they’re restricted in terms of programs. And so we started out with just having Sublime Text, and then having a normal browser that they can just open.
I wasn’t sure of limitations in terms of like, “Can we go to CodePen’s website? Can we go to other websites?” We were pretty limited, but I actually use CodePen very heavily when I teach Girl Develop It classes. I’ve got a whole set of collections of each class that I teach, that whatever topic it is they’re learning they can go and find that collection, and they can see the examples of what I’m trying to teach them.
So I totally agree. CodePen is awesome and a perfect example for being able to dig in and just tweak stuff.
Joe: That’s fantastic. I’m a huge fan of CodePen, I have a pro account to do the pro things, especially in the classroom. You can do live coding and have students log on and watch on their machine if they want to do that. So, a lot of cool stuff in the pro account.
I’ll also link to Chris Coyier’s episode, he was on very early in the series, graciously. We talked a little bit about CodePen. Cool.
So, when you put together the curriculum– Well actually, first of all, you said that you had two groups of kids. You had the high schooler-ish crowd, and the middle schooler-ish crowd. What was the biggest difference between those two groups?
Tessa: Their attitudes. It’s actually funny because I thought that there would be more of a learning curve with the middle school students, but I actually feel like that was a little bit less, because they came in excited. They came in wanting to do it, they were all for it, they were ready to learn. Where the high schoolers were like, “I just have to do this, so I’m here.” And it took me, you know the FTP thing really is when I felt like they kind of turned around.
It took a lot more energy to get them excited and get them involved, where the middle schoolers were already there. Other than that, I feel like that was really the only difference. Just in terms of, high schoolers are sassy, and middle schoolers aren’t quite there yet for the most part.
Joe: Yeah. I mean, teaching college freshmen, I can definitely fully agree with that statement. Especially, I would always pick the 8 a.m. class because I’m a very chipper morning person, and hung-over college students or not. So, doing whatever you can to get them excited about a thing that– I taught a class they had to take. So getting them excited about this thing, like you said, is very hard. Those quick wins, the first quick win for me was always letting them out early on the first day. It was syllabus day, so you just read the syllabus and then send them on their way. And then they’d be like, “Well, maybe this class isn’t so bad.”.
So, that’s fantastic. You mentioned that you do HTML and CSS. I am very curious to see how you approach CSS. I have a course called An Introduction to HTML and CSS, and I feel like grasping that concept is a little different, maybe a little bit harder than HTML. Because you teach tags, they do this thing, but with CSS there’s a lot more variance.
What’s your approach to that?
Tessa: Totally. I very much agree with that. I see that in actual kids, and I also see that in adults as well. What I like to do is I like to focus and spend a lot of time on the actual like syntax of CSS. Really drilling into them what the properties are, what the values are, how to actually write that. We spend a significant amount of time on that.
I think that some of the adults, I can tell, that sometimes they’re like, “I understand it, let’s move on.” But I’m like, “You really don’t. It gets very complicated.” So just making sure that they feel 100% comfortable writing it. Like, “We need the semicolon, and we need the brackets,” closing that out and just making sure that they just get through that syntax and get very comfortable with that, I feel like actually makes them a lot more successful.
Again, people can get a little frustrated because they’re like, “I think I get it, let’s move on.” Getting through that point, I think, is really important. I’ve also found a lot of really awesome documents and I’m sure others have found these too. But there’s lots of really nice charts for CSS that have the shortcuts on there. Like, here’s the properties that you could possibly use, here’s some values.
Of course it doesn’t include everything, but having some type of cheat sheet like that has also been really helpful, so that they can physically– As much as being a developer I feel like I should be all electronics, I actually really like tangible things in my hand. I like books, I like paper handouts, I like all of that stuff and so I would have those cheat sheets so that people could look at them and be like, “Oh, I just want to know what a text is.” Because for Pete’s sake, why is color not font color? Like, come on.
Joe: Right, yes. “Font Style? Totally. Color? Font Color? No.”
Sponsor: This episode is also sponsored by The Events Calendar, a free plugin by Modern Tribe. With over 11 million downloads, it’s one of the most popular event management tools for WordPress.
They remain committed to open source, regularly adding new features to improve their plugins. Take Gutenberg for example—they’ve gone all-in developing solutions for the new block editor and they’ve already released an extension for users to test out.
Check out their latest work at theeventscalendar.com (the events calendar dot com). While you’re there, snag a 20% discount on their premium add-ons using code HOWIBUILTIT (How I Built It, all one word).
Tessa: It’s just color. Right, exactly. It’s just so that they start to figure out that there are some very odd naming conventions to some of these, and getting that syntax down first.
Joe: I agree 100%. Especially about having physical– I buy computer books almost exclusively, and people are like, “Why? If you have a digital version you can search it.” I don’t know. There’s just something about dog-earing a page, or highlighting that thing and then referencing it. I don’t know. I like that feeling. It feels more tangible to me, it feels like I’m going to remember it better if I’m interacting with the book as opposed to just, I don’t know. As an example, I Google the PHP date syntax every time I need it, every single time I’m doing something with the date. If it’s not “year-month-day” I don’t know what the syntax is.
Tessa: Don’t feel bad, I do the very same thing.
Joe: Right? Maybe if I had a cheat sheet where I could interact with it, maybe it would stick better. But in any case, yeah, that’s really cool. How far do you go with CSS? Like, “Here’s how you style certain elements, here’s how you make your simple HTML page pretty enough?”
Tessa: With the kids we did the very basics. It was just, “Let’s drill in on the syntax so that you can eventually start to build off of that if you want to. Let’s do paragraphs, let’s do background colors, let’s do borders.” More of the aesthetics. We did start to dig into like displays and positioning a little bit, but that can be very complicated as a new person digging in.
Joe: Especially today with the three or four types of ways to do it now.
Tessa: Yeah, no. We didn’t touch flex or grid unfortunately, which I think would be great to do, but it’s pretty complicated.
Joe: Yeah, it’s a very cerebral thing for CSS.
Tessa: Totally agree. With my Girl Develop It classes I actually dig further than that. What we do is, we like to chat about CSS and get them really comfortable with writing CSS, and then we like to talk about responsive design. Or at least, I specifically do, because a lot of times when you are starting to learn CSS you’ll use units of measure that you don’t realize should actually probably not be used today.
So maybe it’s like, “I want this column to be 300 pixels.” That’s really great when you’re starting to learn, but you really should be like, “Oh, I actually want that to be like 30%,” or whatever. That kind of works out too.
So, we have a conversation about responsive design, and how to accommodate that with like units of measure, and different other pieces as well. We probably get about that far, and then we move on to more web concepts like servers, and domain names, and things like that. There’s so much to learn in CSS that it actually would be really fun to just teach a, “Let’s get super deep and dirty with CSS and learn all the things.”.
Joe: I’ve gotten a request to do an advanced CSS class so I’m considering that. I’m in Gutenberg-land right now, but I’m seriously considering that because it is. Once you learn the basics, you’re like, “What else can I do with this?” I think the approach of talking about units of measure for at least the Girl Develop It side is good, because pixels are a more tangible thing. I have 1000 pixel area, I want my column to be 300 pixels, I know what that means, I can grok that. But what’s 3 [rem]? Like, what is that? What’s [rem]? What does that even mean?
It’s like how you learned the long way in math first, and then you learn the shortcut because you need to understand certain things I guess.
Tessa: That’ so true. I was just going to say, when I do teach them `rems` and `ems` and other units of measurement for a variety of things. And I can always see they glaze over, they’re like, “I don’t think they quite get it.”
Tessa: But I cover as much as I can to at least give them an idea of, “This exists. It’s something that you should look into, once you feel comfortable and are ready to just really dig in.”
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and that’s what you do in a webinar, or if you have a short class, you introduce things that then the attendees could later Google. At least, the intro stuff is like, “Well, I know what question I need to ask now.”.
Joe: And rem is slightly easier, because it’s always going back to the root element. You don’t have to do that adoption, or child element, math that you have to do with `ems`. But still, it’s weird. Like, what’s `rem` mean? Relative `em`? Capital M? Who prints stuff?
So, that’s super interesting. We are coming up on time, and I want to give you a little bit of an open-ended question which is, if you’re– This is not my favorite question at the end. This is just more of an open-ended question which is, what’s one piece of advice you wish you had when you first started teaching development?
Tessa: That one’s hard.
Joe: I know.
Tessa: Teaching development came super natural for me, so I don’t know. I think just getting feedback in general was really beneficial, I actually didn’t struggle with teaching development. Which now that I think about it, it’s really exciting and really cool and does make a lot of sense as to why I love it so much. I think it is something that I just naturally enjoy doing and I’m naturally good at. I really just love seeing people get that “aha” moment of like, “I learned something!” and being responsible for that.
So it’s actually come very natural, but I think in looking back I feel like what’s really important is to actually obtain feedback and actually listen to that feedback. There are a couple of times that I would get feedback like, “This is super great, but I really wish that we would have talked about this more.” And getting that from multiple students was like, “Oh, awesome. I’m going to change my curriculum.” In teaching development I think it’s really important to take that feedback from your students, and be willing to change, and willing to learn from them and expand on that feedback.
Joe: I love that. I mean, because especially in the online course base people think that once you have your curriculum, or once you have your online course it’s very passive. Somebody in the department at the school where I used to teach was like, “Well this class is basically on auto-pilot now, right? You’ve been teaching it for a couple of semesters.” And I’m like, “No. I redo the syllabus every semester, almost, because new stuff happens.”
Joe: The textbook, which is just a web page, was written in like 1995. There’s nothing about facial recognition in that textbook. I want to talk about that now. So, that’s absolutely great advice, because also it’s easy to get jaded too. I don’t know about you, but in teaching some of my classes now they’re like, “I don’t understand, I’m really bad with computers.” And I’m like, “Why are you in a graduate level computer class?” It’s easy to get that attitude, but I have to tell myself I’m there to teach them how to be good with computers now.
Joe: Yeah, patience.
Tessa: Super important.
Joe: Absolutely. It’s easy if you react like that, that’s fine, react like that. Don’t take it out on the student, though you want to, because you can get frustrated. That’s fine, but still help them. What was your–.
Tessa: Do it when you get to your car, or get home.
Joe: Yeah, exactly. You mentioned the “aha” moment. Do you remember your “aha” moment? Because I totally remember my “aha” moment with programming.
Tessa: I do. For whatever reason, floats and positions, I just could never get it. I spent a lot of time on it. And to be fair when I learned programming, there was no classes, there was no community groups, there was no meet ups. And if that stuff was around I lived in a super small town in northern Minnesota, so it didn’t exist for me. I really struggled to learn programming because I didn’t have a lot of that stuff.
My “aha” moment was figuring out how floats actually worked, and being able to have various columns in various places and then continue those columns, but be able to kind of move them around. And when I did that, like I just started crying. My husband was like, “What is wrong with you?” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I did it!”.
Joe: Yeah, “I got it!”.
Tessa: He’s like, “Why are you crying?” Like, “I’m so happy!” It was this amazing moment, it was awesome. Then of course I’ve had multiples of those, but that was my first.
Joe: Yeah, that’s amazing. I don’t really remember my first HTML CSS “aha” moment, it was maybe my friends showing me, I guess, positioning. Like, z index. I remember him specifically showing me an index with two hollow squares. There was just the border, and I saw the two squares intersect like, “This is crazy.”.
But my first “aha” moment in programming was after my first semester of Java, which was my first semester of programming ever. Didn’t go that well. It was very hard, but I was writing PHP after that, because I had to write PHP for this. I was doing a new advanced thing and I wrote an [IP] statement and actually saw it shakeout, and it was like 2:00 in the morning in my dorm room, and I’m like, “Man this worked on the first try! I get control structures now!” I just remember going, “I totally understand them now as opposed to just writing them.”
Joe: Remembering that story helps me empathize with my students who are learning Python right now for the first time, and they’re like, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” And I’m like, “No, I know. I know you haven’t. It’s very hard, and you’re not going to get it at the end of the eight weeks. And I know that. Just take it slow, ask questions.”.
So, awesome. Well, we’re at the end of time. I have two more questions for you. One is, where can people find you– we’ll get into that later.
The first one is, do you have any trade secrets for us?
Tessa: I saw this question on there and I wanted to come up with something sassy, because that’s totally me. But honestly, trade secrets in terms of teaching development is really just, I feel like, is being a human being that cares about other human beings.
I know that that sounds like something super common, to just be like, “Well of course I care about other human beings.” But actually sitting down and thinking about, and relating to the other human beings that are in that class, I had– I mean kids, obviously a little bit different. That was very emotional for me, especially some of those students, hearing the things that they were going home to or the things that they went through.
But in terms of adults, as well. I had students that were coming in that were in really bad careers or really bad life places, and they wanted to change that. And so really actually stepping back and seriously thinking about what their life is like, and how you can help them, can be very emotional but can also be incredibly rewarding.
There are multiple women that have moved on to actually having careers in development, and I started that. It is the most amazing feeling in the entire world. So, be a good human that cares about other humans, when you are working in this and in general, just in life. We all need that more.
Joe: Absolutely. And we all need that reminder. I’m going to record this and just play it when I need to. That will be my easy button sound, you know, when I get frustrated and I forget what my students are going through. That’s excellent advice. It’s very, very rewarding to be a teacher.
Cool. Tessa, thanks so much for joining me today. Where can people find you?
Tessa: People can find me all over the internet as TessaK22. That’s pretty much my username for everything. If you are interested in learning more about Coders of Tomorrow, or if you’re interested in learning more about that curriculum, feel free to reach out.
Coders of Tomorrow is the millennial way that you would spell “tomorrow,” so it’s, “Coders of,” and then, “TMRW.org”. So check it out.
If you want to teach kids in your area, I would love to chat with you and help expand the organization as well.
Joe: Fantastic. I will link all of those in the show notes as well. Tessa, thanks again for joining me. I had a blast.
Tessa: Yeah. Thank you for having me, it was great.
Outro: Again, thanks to Tessa for being on. She’s a great person to know in the WordPress community and in general – dedicated and passionate! She also offers some great tips for teaching and learning development.
My question for you think week is what was your “aha” moment in whatever it is you do! You can email your answers to email@example.com or post it over on our Facebook community.
And Thanks again to our sponsors Pantheon and The Events Calendar. Definitely check them out. They are 2 companies so dedicated to the WordPress community that I’m proud to have them as supporters of the show.
For all of the show notes, head over to howibuilt.it/87/. If you like the show, head over to Apple Podcasts and leaving us a rating and review. It helps people discover us! You can also join the Facebook community over at howibuilt.it/facebook/. I want to build a strong community for this podcast, and Facebook is the place to do it.
Thanks for joining me, and until next time, get out there and build something!