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/

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Carl Alexander

March 18, 2017
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Transcript

  1. HOW TO USE TEACHING AS A LEARNING TOOL

  2. Hello, My name is Carl Alexander

  3. Hello, My name is Carl Alexander @twigpress

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

  5. We're always looking to improve our skills

  6. We read blog posts

  7. We watch screencasts

  8. We listen to talks

  9. All great ways to learn new things

  10. What about teaching?

  11. Teaching is another great learning tool!

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

  13. It feels like it shouldn't work

  14. HOW CAN TEACHING IMPROVE YOUR PROGRAMMING SKILLS?

  15. How can this work?

  16. I had my doubts too

  17. It all changed when I started teaching

  18. "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it

    well enough." - Albert Einstein?
  19. It's all about this quote

  20. THE GREAT DECEPTION

  21. Standard Learning by doing

  22. Do something until it works

  23. Learn something in the process

  24. But what did you learn?

  25. Can you explain it?

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

    Carl Alexander
  27. Learned where to find the solution

  28. Not any closer to answering why

  29. Theory and concepts still elude us

  30. TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

  31. Next level Learning by teaching

  32. Still have to get your hands dirty

  33. But working solution isn't enough anymore

  34. You're accountable to your students now

  35. Need to be able to explain what you did

  36. Changes the dynamic around learning

  37. Not just for yourself

  38. Learning to teach back

  39. Forces you to master what you want to teach

  40. Need to be able to answer questions

  41. MAKING THINGS SIMPLE

  42. None
  43. Teaching is also about communication

  44. Keep things simple

  45. Or students won't understand

  46. But simplifying is hard

  47. Need to find the essence of a topic

  48. Requires more effective learning strategies

  49. Wouldn't have used otherwise

  50. Results in a better understanding

  51. Truth behind the quote

  52. Questions?

  53. WHEN DO YOU KNOW ENOUGH TO TEACH?

  54. The catch-22

  55. Fact You might never feel like you know enough

  56. Good ol' impostor syndrome

  57. More to teaching than what you know

  58. COMMUNICATION ABOVE ALL

  59. The best teachers communicate well

  60. More important that they understand you

  61. No PhD required

  62. You need empathy

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

  64. This is how it works in class

  65. Teacher splits students in groups

  66. Each student gets a topic to learn

  67. Then teach back

  68. Forces them to use effective learning skills

  69. Have to be able to answer questions

  70. Discussion helps crystalize everything

  71. Better results than listening to a teacher

  72. You can do this too!

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

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

  75. There are also limits

  76. You're not always right

  77. It's ok to be wrong

  78. Do your homework and research the topic well

  79. You shouldn't do any serious mistakes

  80. Whole point of learning by teaching

  81. But where's the limit?

  82. Think about the impact of being wrong

  83. What do we mean?

  84. Example Cryptography

  85. Example Mental health

  86. Potential for harm outweighs benefits

  87. Not a lot of topics like those

  88. Questions?

  89. WHERE CAN YOU TEACH?

  90. Finding the right medium to teach on

  91. WRITE ON YOUR PERSONAL WEBSITE

  92. Easiest and most popular way to teach

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

  94. 1. Pick a topic 2. Write about it 3. Press

    "Publish"
  95. Nothing more to it!

  96. Unless you want to promote your blog post

  97. Major hurdle with this medium

  98. For some, just publishing online can be scary

  99. Promoting it puts you out there even more

  100. For others, getting the word out is hard

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

  102. DO A PRESENTATION

  103. Plenty of options in the WordPress community

  104. The are local meetups

  105. Most major cities have local meetup groups

  106. Some events are social

  107. Other times someone gives a talk

  108. That could be you!

  109. Great way to start public speaking

  110. Prepares you for speaking at WordCamps!

  111. Lots of opportunities to learn and teach

  112. Might require travel (Hello!)

  113. Public speaking is scary for most of us

  114. It's not for everyone

  115. But anyone can overcome it with time

  116. Wasn't easy for me

  117. But you won't find a better community

  118. GIVE A WORKSHOP

  119. Combines a presentation with practical exercises

  120. Workshops are popular with developers

  121. But new to the WordPress community

  122. A lot of WordCamps have workshops now

  123. You can offer paid workshops too!

  124. Requires more work

  125. Different level of expectation

  126. Closer to organizing your own conference

  127. BY TEACHING, WE LEARN

  128. Then Popular latin proverb

  129. Now Fringe new idea

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

  131. Constant pressure to learn new things

  132. Why effective learning technique are important

  133. One way that we can use to achieve that

  134. Questions?

  135. Thank you!