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How to use teaching as a learning tool

How to use teaching as a learning tool

These are the slides from a talk given at WordCamp Atlanta 2017.

Ok, so you’re a kickass WordPress developer. You’re always looking to learn new things. You read every technical blog post that you come across. You try your best to apply them in your WordPress project. Things are going well, but you’re not sure if there’s more that you could do to hone your skills.

Why yes there is! You could also teach. But you might be wondering, “Seriously, how can teaching make me a better developer?” That’s a good question! And that’s what I’ll share with you in this talk.

I’ve dedicated a significant amount of time to teaching. I write a lot on my personal site and sometimes on other WordPress educational sites. I also speak at WordCamps and local meetups. These teaching opportunities have been essential in helping me grow as a developer.

The good news is that you too can use teaching as a powerful learning tool! This talk will show you how. You’ll learn how to use teaching to build your development chops. You’ll also see how to do it so that what you give back benefits the WordPress community.

You can read the companion article at: https://carlalexander.ca/use-teaching-learning-tool/

Carl Alexander

March 18, 2017
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Transcript

  1. HOW TO USE TEACHING
    AS A LEARNING TOOL

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  2. Hello,
    My name is
    Carl Alexander

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  3. Hello,
    My name is
    Carl Alexander
    @twigpress

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  4. Hello,
    My name is
    Carl Alexander
    @twigpress
    carlalexander.ca

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  5. We're always looking to
    improve our skills

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  6. We read blog posts

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  7. We watch screencasts

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  8. We listen to talks

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  9. All great ways
    to learn new things

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  10. What about teaching?

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  11. Teaching is another
    great learning tool!

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  12. Shouldn't you know it
    before you teach it?

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  13. It feels like
    it shouldn't work

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  14. HOW CAN TEACHING IMPROVE
    YOUR PROGRAMMING SKILLS?

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  15. How can this work?

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  16. I had my doubts too

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  17. It all changed when
    I started teaching

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  18. "If you can't explain it simply, you
    don't understand it well enough."
    - Albert Einstein?

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  19. It's all about this quote

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  20. THE GREAT DECEPTION

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  21. Standard
    Learning by doing

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  22. Do something
    until it works

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  23. Learn something
    in the process

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  24. But what did you learn?

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  25. Can you explain it?

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  26. "Well, I did it this way and it worked."
    - Carl Alexander

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  27. Learned where to find
    the solution

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  28. Not any closer to
    answering why

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  29. Theory and concepts
    still elude us

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  30. TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

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  31. Next level
    Learning by teaching

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  32. Still have to get
    your hands dirty

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  33. But working solution
    isn't enough anymore

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  34. You're accountable to
    your students now

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  35. Need to be able to
    explain what you did

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  36. Changes the dynamic
    around learning

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  37. Not just for yourself

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  38. Learning to teach back

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  39. Forces you to master
    what you want to teach

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  40. Need to be able to
    answer questions

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  41. MAKING THINGS SIMPLE

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  42. Teaching is also
    about communication

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  43. Keep things simple

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  44. Or students won't
    understand

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  45. But simplifying is hard

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  46. Need to find
    the essence of a topic

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  47. Requires more effective
    learning strategies

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  48. Wouldn't have used
    otherwise

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  49. Results in a better
    understanding

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  50. Truth behind the quote

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  51. WHEN DO YOU KNOW
    ENOUGH TO TEACH?

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  52. The catch-22

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  53. Fact
    You might never feel
    like you know enough

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  54. Good ol'
    impostor syndrome

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  55. More to teaching
    than what you know

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  56. COMMUNICATION ABOVE ALL

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  57. The best teachers
    communicate well

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  58. More important that
    they understand you

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  59. No PhD required

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  60. You need empathy

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  61. YOU DON'T HAVE TO KNOW
    ANYTHING AT FIRST

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  62. This is how
    it works in class

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  63. Teacher splits
    students in groups

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  64. Each student
    gets a topic to learn

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  65. Then teach back

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  66. Forces them to use
    effective learning skills

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  67. Have to be able to
    answer questions

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  68. Discussion helps
    crystalize everything

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  69. Better results than
    listening to a teacher

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  70. You can do this too!

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  71. Pick a topic you want to
    learn and teach it

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  72. THIS DOESN'T MEAN THAT
    YOU WON'T BE WRONG

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  73. There are also limits

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  74. You're not always right

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  75. It's ok to be wrong

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  76. Do your homework and
    research the topic well

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  77. You shouldn't do
    any serious mistakes

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  78. Whole point of
    learning by teaching

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  79. But where's the limit?

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  80. Think about the impact
    of being wrong

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  81. What do we mean?

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  82. Example
    Cryptography

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  83. Example
    Mental health

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  84. Potential for harm
    outweighs benefits

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  85. Not a lot of topics
    like those

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  86. WHERE CAN YOU TEACH?

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  87. Finding the right medium
    to teach on

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  88. WRITE ON YOUR
    PERSONAL WEBSITE

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  89. Easiest and most
    popular way to teach

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  90. We all know how to set
    up a WordPress blog

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  91. 1. Pick a topic
    2. Write about it
    3. Press "Publish"

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  92. Nothing more to it!

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  93. Unless you want to
    promote your blog post

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  94. Major hurdle
    with this medium

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  95. For some, just publishing
    online can be scary

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  96. Promoting it puts you
    out there even more

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  97. For others, getting the
    word out is hard

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  98. Lots out there on how
    to promote a blog post

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  99. DO A PRESENTATION

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  100. Plenty of options in the
    WordPress community

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  101. The are local meetups

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  102. Most major cities have
    local meetup groups

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  103. Some events are social

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  104. Other times
    someone gives a talk

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  105. That could be you!

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  106. Great way to start
    public speaking

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  107. Prepares you for
    speaking at WordCamps!

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  108. Lots of opportunities to
    learn and teach

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  109. Might require travel
    (Hello!)

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  110. Public speaking is scary
    for most of us

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  111. It's not for everyone

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  112. But anyone can
    overcome it with time

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  113. Wasn't easy for me

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  114. But you won't find a
    better community

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  115. GIVE A WORKSHOP

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  116. Combines a presentation
    with practical exercises

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  117. Workshops are popular
    with developers

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  118. But new to the
    WordPress community

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  119. A lot of WordCamps
    have workshops now

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  120. You can offer paid
    workshops too!

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  121. Requires more work

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  122. Different level of
    expectation

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  123. Closer to organizing
    your own conference

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  124. BY TEACHING, WE LEARN

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  125. Then
    Popular latin proverb

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  126. Now
    Fringe new idea

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  127. Doesn't mean that idea
    doesn't have merit

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  128. Constant pressure
    to learn new things

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  129. Why effective learning
    technique are important

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  130. One way that we can use
    to achieve that

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