From April 2015 to June 2016 I was an Instructor for General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive(WDI) course. I was responsible for the design and execution of a 400 hour curriculum that takes people with little to no programming experience and prepares them for roles as junior full stack developers.
I started at General Assembly as a WDI student at the end of 2014. I knew how to code, but needed some training on web development. My prior experience made the class a breeze but I found myself admiring the great culture and carefully crafted experience provided by my instructional team. After graduating, I joined my former mentors as a junior instructor and eventually became an Instructional Lead.
The course took students through four units focusing on different aspects of programming: Front end scripting & design, web apps/back end programming, service oriented architecture/APIs, and front end frameworks. Each unit had a project at the end to reinforce the subjects, including a group project that focused on collaboration. Planning these subjects out in a palatable manner meant I needed a clear and thorough understanding of them and how they were intertwined.
I enjoyed creating different, fun lessons and performing them in front of the students, as well as writing the related homeworks, morning exercises, and prompts, sequenced in the correct order. Managing all of this felt very much like working in live television, but by employing agile methodologies I was able to manage the program, my team, and my students. In a sense I was a team lead for 20-30 junior developers at any given time.
I was also charged with maintaining the infrastructure of the program, like scripts that standardized student computers, or automated their homework submissions via Github. I’d sometimes write chat bots to help schedule one on one sessions with instructors, or queue questions for our teaching assistants. When not working on these tools I was putting out fires in student codebases.
The most important part of the job for me was conveying to my students what it meant to be a ‘good’ developer. I always took extra time to show them the fun stuff, encourage exploration, and acclimate them to the industry. I’d spend my time helping coordinate hackathons with our user experience and product management students, game jams, and field trips. Bringing students to meetups and watching them squeal about talking to John Resig, then months later watching them present apps at TechCrunch Disrupt and winning hackathons is something that I’ll be proud of for a while.