Kids of 8-10 years of age are incredibly smart who are treading high on the curve of curiosity and learning. Thus, it’s equally challenging to teach such kids. Did I just write challenging? Did I not mention that I feel a strange pull for anything challenging? Jokes apart, in June I came across an opportunity to teach Python/Scratch to kids in Singapore. The program briefed a 10 week Code in the Community program run by Saturday Kids in collaboration with Google. This post is an account of my experience and learnings throughout these 10 weeks with Saturday Kids.
I came across the application to volunteer sometime in June. I applied to be a Python teaching assistant and there were two coding questions as a part of the application. Soon, I was approached that I have been selected but the program required more support of assistants for Scratch class due to high enrollment. Thus, I volunteered to assist in Scratch class.
Very soon, we had a mixer session! A mixer session is the one in which we get to meet and greet all other teaching assistants and instructors. We are assigned our libraries (I was assigned to Jurong West Public Library) and are briefed on the general code of conduct for teaching and dealing with kids.
Week 1 to 10
I was stationed at Jurong West Public Library for Scratch classes every Sunday 11 AM to 1 PM. I am proud to say, I will remember each one of those Sundays. I used to start each class by taking attendance. This also helped me remember each student by his/her first name basis and that helped me build a good bond with several students. Helping the students with their classroom doubts, and tasks was a formative experience. It was not just about the technicality of the doubts, instead it was about the way it was solved or explained to students. I learnt that, the more simpler the articulation is, the better it is for understanding. I realized that this is applicable to so many things in our personal and professional lives as well. What you do at your workplace, has to be communicated in the simplest and most effective way to stakeholders. This is not news but a belief that kids reinforced and taught me in a very unique way.
What may seem trivial to you, may not be trivial to a 10 year old. You are a true subject matter expert when you are able to explain a complicated (or not so much) idea to a 10 year old!
It was really great to see kids dedicating weeks in learning. Equally, parents dedicated their Sundays in getting their kids to the classes and a lot of them waited at the libraries to pick their kids after class. It was inspiring to see the zeal among kids who had immense pace in picking up concepts and implementing them. As a software engineer myself, I felt extreme proud in seeing kids picking up coding at such an early age. Frankly, the enthusiasm in each kid made me come back to class every Sunday.
My team, including the project manager Michael, were super supportive, dedicated and knowledgable in delivering a great learning experience to the kids. I hope to continue contributing in the Code in the Community program as an assistant or an instructor next year as well! The next run of the program begins in February 2020. Any one interested to learn Scratch/Python can read more about the eligibility and want to indicate their interest, can do here.
I have written other posts related to software engineering and data science as well. You might want to check them out here. You can also subscribe to my blog to receive updates straight in your inbox.