Teaching to Learn: Student turned Instructor

By

Annie Cheung General Assembly

Problem solving and the fast-paced nature of the field.  These were strong pulls for me to jump into the development world, but the force that convinced me to stay was of a different angle. From open source projects on Github to community help support via Stack Overflow, the willingness of developers to grow and learn together represents the culture of constant learning and sharing.

I moved from San Francisco to Hong Kong in February to make a change and take GA’s Web Development Immersive. As a student, I found myself engaged with the content and excited to learn how to code. However, as the weeks passed, I found that when I was talking about the course, I wasn’t so much talking about what I had learned, but how I had learned it and the interactions that happened in the classroom.

After week 9 of the course, together the producer and lead instructor asked me if I would be interested in instructing; it was not a hard sell.

The experience of turning from one side of the table, from student to instructor, was not as drastic as it may sound. In the project-based curriculum that is used in Hong Kong, the roles in the classroom are not best defined by these traditional terms. “Lead developer” and “junior developer” are more accurate definitions of the roles in this process. We are all developing and learning and enjoying with and from each other.

Instructing is not what I do. In this role, I am supporting, guiding, learning, and constructing an environment in which the participants of WDI can learn.

When new students start the course, there is often the idea in their minds that web development is coding. Period. Learning from and working with Charles, a lead instructor for WDI Hong Kong, I discovered that coding is a very small part of what web development actually is.

This role with GA has allowed me to pass on concepts that I learned while taking WDI: that web development is truly about solving problems, making mistakes, self-directed learning, and most importantly, being comfortable and having fun with the unknown.

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Annie Cheung is a WDI Instructor at General Assembly ‘s Hong Kong campus. After a time at Cisco Systems flirting with technology, Annie decided to jump in with both feet by learning web development at GAAfter completing just 9 weeks of the 12-week-long Web Development Immersive, Annie was offered the opportunity to co-instruct the following WDI class as an equal partner with the same lead instructor. That lead instructor — the author of this all-too-brief bio — considers her indispensable.