Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

Reflecting on my years of teaching web development with ScriptEd

A new school year means another year of teaching with ScriptEd. This will be my 5th year! I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve grown since my first year with ScriptEd:

I had the worst stage-fright and could barely get through a 5-minute lecture without becoming breathless and shaky. Once I actually stopped in the middle of a lecture and ran out of the classroom, leaving the other volunteers to pick up where I left off. While I’m still no TED speaker (though ScriptEd’s co-founder is), I can get through a class without heart palpitations. I don’t have to read directly off the slides and it doesn’t completely throw me off-track when I stumble over something or when a student interrupts with a question. I’ve even given talks at QueensJS and DjangoGirls events.

I knew just enough JavaScript when I started teaching to read a simple function, mostly understand it and maybe edit it. I learned JavaScript by teaching. Nothing is more motivating than having students depend on me. I’m driven to understand the material at a deeper level and find engaging ways to help them understand it.

Now I write JavaScript almost every day at work. Over the past 4 years I’ve built websites with advanced animations (pieces of a car that fall into place as a user scrolls, a tumblr-style lazy-loading masonry page that scrolls forever and ever) and several applications using React.

Teaching has also improved my ability to communicate at work: I use similar strategies to explain technical concepts to producers and product managers so they understand what I’m working on, struggling with, or need clarity on.

I have more empathy, patience, self-confidence, and new friends among my fellow volunteers.

Teaching is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and its also an amazing way to learn.

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