Last weekend, I taught my first front end development class! Can you say, exciting?
Back in November, I was invited by Girl Develop It Lehigh Valley to lead an Intro to HTML & CSS workshop in Allentown over the course of two days. I immediately (and enthusiastically) replied yes, eager to finally lead a class and share some knowledge with a curious group.
The class went wonderfully. So wonderfully, that I am still beyond psyched about it. Our group ranged greatly in age, ethnicity, background and experience-level. We covered a good bit of information (all of GDI's courses are open source btw) ranging from the basics-basics, to a layouts 101, and the fundamentals of CSS.
Teaching the class, and not just watching, but participating in helping the women understand the rules, semantics and rhyme and reason to HTML & CSS was an incredible, overwhelming feeling of positivity. Here I am, self taught out of curiosity, explaining how to structure a document, and what elements you'll need in the head of your document. It's pretty awesome and personally, teaching some of the aspects that I had learned on my own, with little explanation, helped reframe some of the concepts in my own mind (I'm looking at you floats & absolute positioning).
I loved being able to explain and walk the women through building a basic, first website, but, equally, if not more than that, I enjoyed the opportunity to really practice and build up on empathy. I strongly feel that it is incredibly important for designers and developers to take some time out of what they do, and teach someone else something.
The act of teaching is a learning experience, in itself, and one of the most important traits of a good teacher is empathy. Teach someone, who knows a bit about what you do, the basics. Teach a group of students how to write their first few lines of code. In order to succeed, you have to not only be able to explain the concepts you're teaching, but consider what you know about the people you are teaching and how you have to adapt what you want to say, in a way that just about anyone is able to pick up on it, and, with some help, dive in.