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How To Teach Code

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an effective teacher in the tech industry? Well, wonder no more. We had the pleasure of chatting with Angie Jones, senior developer advocate at Applitools and director at Test Automation University about her experience as a teacher. And she talks to us about her teaching and learning styles and shares some advice for those looking to get into the world of teaching. And this episode, we'll discuss things like how to teach to multiple skill levels and common misconceptions about being a teacher.


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How To Teach Code

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Show notes

5:59 - What drew you into teaching?
7:47 - Did you ever have a memorable teacher?
13:40 - How do you teach to students with varying skill levels?
17:56 - What do you struggle with most when it comes to teaching?
23:41 - Do you think, as a developer advocate, that it’s important to know how to teach?
24:29 - What’s your teaching style && how do you appeal to different learning styles?
26:13 - What’s your favorite subject to teach?
27:25 - Who do you look up to in the industry?
29:52 - How do you learn?
33:42 - What advice would you give someone who wants to get into teaching?

Teaching Code

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Transcript

Kelly [0:00]
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an effective teacher in the tech industry? Well, wonder no more, we have the pleasure of chatting with Angie Jones, senior developer advocate at Applitools and director at Test Automation University about her experience as a teacher. And she talks to us about her teaching and learning styles and shares some advice for those looking to get into the world of teaching. And this episode, we’ll discuss things like how to teach to multiple skill levels and common misconceptions about being a teacher. Let’s get started.

Welcome to the Ladybug Podcast. I’m Kelly.

Ali [0:31] I’m Ali.

Emma [0:32]
And I’m Emma. And we’re debugging the tech industry.

This week’s episode is brought to you by Log Rocket. How many times have you struggled to figure out an annoying bug in your app? Well struggle no more. Log Rocket lets you replay what users do on your site, helping you reproduce bugs and fix issues faster. You can see a perfect replay of what your users saw, inspect Redux actions and state at any point in time, view every network request and response. And even inspect console logs and JavaScript errors. Log Rocket lets you support your users without the tedious back and forth conversations. Plus it works with React, Angular, plain JavaScript, Redux, Ember, and Vue. Check out Log Rocket today to improve your debugging workflow.

Ali [1:12]
So Angie, can you tell us a little bit more about your background?

Angie Jones [1:16] Sure. So I’m automation engineer, which basically means I do the development of automated tests. I’ve been in the industry for quite a while. And I’ve had a couple of stints in production development as well, but much prefer to be in test automation.

Emma [1:37]
That’s amazing. And I read that you are a master inventor and your work led to over 25 patents, is that correct?

Angie Jones [1:45]
Yes, yes. So I love tinkering with things and basically answering the question of why not. So a lot of times just dealing with technology, it doesn’t do everything you want wanted to do. And I often ask the question, why not? And come up with the solution. And in that’s been patentable, at least 25 times.

Emma [2:10] That’s amazing. And so I also saw that you worked at IBM and you worked at Twitter. What did you do both of those companies? I also worked at IBM. So I’m curious. I was like, when I meet someone else who worked there, I’m interested in learning about what they did.

Angie Jones [2:22]
Yes, I did, um, feature development for a couple of years in automation there as well, for most of the part. And at Twitter, also automation engineer there.

Emma [2:33]
That’s amazing. Awesome. And yeah, I see most recently, you’re working or you’re very active with Test Automation University, you’re the director, right?

Angie Jones [2:42]
Mm hmm.

Emma [2:42] And can you tell us a little bit more about what Test Automation University is?

Angie Jones [2:46]
Yeah. So when working at places like IBM, Twitter, a couple of other companies as well, there would be the need for automation engineers. And so we would always have like recs to hire people. And but it’s such a unique skill, you basically I described it as having the skill set of a developer, but the mindset of a tester, and it’s very hard to find people who are really good at both of those things.

So those job recs were really hard to fill, we will interview lots of people, but could never feel all of the recs that we had. And so I knew that there was a need to just advance the industry in this space. So I started doing like a lot of conference talks and workshops and teaching people how to do this, also write blog posts and things like that. And let’s say I’m doing a workshop in London, for example, where if there’s somebody all the way, maybe in Australia, they can’t necessarily come to that workshop. So I would get a lot of requests about just having the content available online in some way, which I just did not.

So I recently transitioned into a developer advocacy role. And in this role, one of the things that I wanted to do is to finally offer those courses for people and I was kind of thinking of just doing my own courses, like one or two. But my company, when I ran it by them, my company Applitools, and they’re a small startup, but all about giving back to the community. So they had the grand idea of, hey, let’s launch a university. And I’m thinking like, what? I know, I don’t really have the time or bandwidth was more thinking like my one or two courses. But yeah, we talked it through and thought about just getting other industry experts to provide courses. And so people that I know, their work, I know, they know what they’re talking about. And they are trusted source.

So took me about a week to get on board with it, I thought about and decided, yeah, this, this is needed a needed space, um, there’s not a lack of content, there’s actually quite the opposite, there’s probably too much content, and you don’t know which of those are good, reliable sources, you know what I mean? So that’s how Test Automation U came about. It’s a free online platform, offering courses on all things, test automation, and it’s totally free, and sponsored by my company.

Ali [5:30]
Yeah, that’s really, really incredible, I think, as many resources as possible that make learning to code and learning new skills, really accessible, both economically and then also, from a instructional point of view is really, really important, especially those really strong resources that have the correct information and actually make sense. So important. So what drew you into teaching in the first place, like starting those workshops, and then building those online courses as well? What drew you into that?

Angie Jones [5:59] Yeah, I think I must have been a teacher in another life or something, this is something that I really enjoy about it. And it’s very natural for me. Although, you know, I didn’t pursue like, any training to become a teacher and anything like that actually started. Kind of like, right after I graduated from college, you know, how you finish school and you go into the workforce. And then now all of a sudden, you have like, all of this extra time on your hands. And you’re trying to figure out like,

Emma [6:29]
Yeah, you’re like “I don’t have homework!”

Angie Jones [6:32]
Exactly. So I started looking for just like little side hustlers and things to do. So in addition to like, my side coding projects, I also took online job at tutor.com tutoring like high school and college kids and math, like, you know, things like algebra and stuff like that. And so I think that’s probably like my first formal experience in teaching others, and I just really enjoyed it. And it was such a reward thing that you know, students, they could understand what it is that you’re saying, like, you take something and you break it down into its simplest form, so that anyone can grasp it. So that was just something that was really rewarding for me.

Emma [7:14]
This sounds great. I wish I had more teachers with the same kind of outlook that you did, I struggled a lot in college with professors who didn’t understand the premise of teaching to students who maybe didn’t learn just from lectures, and maybe they needed analogies to kind of break things down. And so I think we take teachers for granted. And I would love to show more appreciation for that. Yeah. Did you ever have a memorable teacher throughout, you know, anytime in your education that really stood out to you and made you love teaching?

Angie Jones [7:47]
I’m gonna say,one of my professors in undergrad, when I first went to college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Like, I didn’t know that, like, tech was a thing. I didn’t know like people programmed for living like that was just something that was not on my radar at all.

So I went to college, like just very unsure of what I want to do. And I just kind of majored in business thinking like, okay, I’ll figure it out. And I’m sure a business degree will come in handy. And whatever I decided to do. So my father, he was accountant at the time, and he kind of could see the trends and see that tech was becoming an emergent space. And so he recommended that I take just a computer class, I just take something so that you know how to work the thing, right? And I Silly me not knowing anything, I enrolled in a C++ course. And I actually loved it. So that was like, my first intro to programming. And I enjoyed it, I did really well in it.

And that instructor, he was good at breaking it down. But not only that, he went beyond just teaching the material, and he said, saw the potential in me and asked like, why are you not a CS major? And, like, I don’t know, what is that? How do you know? He’s like this? They write code. I was like, oh, okay, I like to write code. Sure. So I switched my major. And I think that’s probably why he stands out most for me is that, you know, that was a pivotal point in my life, of like, figuring out what I wanted to do, and just having someone who is an expert in that, to see the potential in you and encourage you was really, really helpful for me.

Emma [9:34]
I wonder too, if like, a part of being a teacher is also partially being a mentor, I think it comes like it depends on like, where in the educational journey you are like, as a college professor, I think part of it is mentorship, too, because college age, kids, kids really don’t know what they want to do with their careers.

Angie Jones [9:54]
They don’t and it’s really easy to become discouraged. So I, after the whole tutor.com thing, I eventually took a job as an adjunct professor at a local college, and I started teaching Java programming there. And it was really interesting, you know, I that was where I learned, like, that whole mentoring thing is important as well. So teaching them the material, yes, that’s the main job. But also like, these are human beings, and they have all of these different emotions and things going on with their life or whatever. And so people will come in, and they might feel intimidated, especially in tech. And you probably can identify with this Ali, I know a little bit of your story. But you come into like, intro to programming course, and there’s going to be people in there who’ve been coding like their entire life, since they were eight. So at this point, 18 years old, you’ve been doing this for 10 years now, like you’re like a senior developer, you know, and what to have someone like me who didn’t have experience with that, and you come into the classroom, and you have all of these people is really easy to get like this sense of imposter syndrome. And so I made it my mission to kind of be on the lookout for that. And to help encourage those students that I saw, might be struggling with that. And so let them know that they do belong, because that’s essentially what that Professor do for me is to say, hey, you belong here, you’re good at it. And this is, you should make a career out of this. And so I tried to pay that forward to my students as well.

Emma [11:33]
Like you had said earlier that you don’t have any formal, like training and being a teacher, but you don’t need to have formal training to be one of the best teachers. And there’s, I feel like there’s this kind of misconception, at least where I went to school that just because you have a PhD means you’re a good teacher. And it’s like, being a good teacher is more than your credentials, it’s, it’s all about connecting with your students in whatever manner is right for them.

And not just like spouting knowledge at people and assuming that they’re going to get it like we had a, my intro to programming course it was Java. And we had two exams a whole year, that was it to make up your grade. And it was a midterm and a final and they were open book. And he said, most of you are going to fail this. And if you would rather take a 60% and walk away and not take it, it’ll probably be better than the score you’re going to get. And to me that’s like, like, that’s not how you teach students. And he also would like rank his students in terms of his favorites. And like it was, he had a PhD, and he was extremely smart. And I think that we see that and we’re like, oh, they must be a good teacher. They’re super smart. And it’s like, that’s not it does not equate to a good teacher necessarily,

Ali [12:41]
Right, totally. And I have a formal education background, like I was going to be a education minor in school before I left and all that, and then my shadowing semester in an elementary school and all that. And I use some of that I know how to make lesson plans as a result of that. But at the same point, it’s more of those human skills and the just knowing to reach out to them about imposter syndrome and educating them and telling them not to compare themselves to anybody else. And just having my experience feeling like an imposter in tech, I think is almost more valuable than my formal education background. So I really liked that you spoke to that want to transition a little bit to talking more about the mechanics of teaching.

So something that I see a lot is having to teach it as multiple skill levels, like you said, like you and I both went into computer science classrooms not knowing how to code and not knowing too much about tech at all. And how do you reach those learners, but still keep those more advanced learners engaged as well?

Angie Jones [13:40]
Yeah, I still struggle with that to this day, like when I’m creating workshops, and things of that nature for conferences, or even doing my courses on Test Automation University, there’s going to be different levels of knowledge there. And sometimes teaching something that I I deem as advanced, right, so I want this to be an advanced course, and try to do it at the level. And I’ve done that for a couple of workshops, and everybody shows up, whether they’re against or not.

So what I’ve learned to do is just break things down to the simplest terms, even if I have to, like recite some definition that, theoretically, maybe everyone should know this based on the write up of the course. But so what let’s just say it anyway, and just sharing that I found that is very helpful for beginners, even people who with experience, like it just kind of gets us all on the same page of, Okay, this is what this definition means. And this is how we’re going to, you know, teach this concept based on this definition. And it kind of is a level set thing.

And also a refresher, like sometimes a lot of us jump into new technologies or new tools, and we need to do it for a specific job. So we learn enough, you use it to get that job done. So it doesn’t hurt to just give the fundamentals of things a lot of people are lacking. And even though they do have the experience in it. So that’s, that’s been very helpful. A lot of people will provide feedback to me saying things like, you know, you have a gift of breaking things down to its simplest terms. And, you know, I think some people who teach, they kind of shy away from that, because they don’t want anyone to think that they’re a novice, right? So it’s almost like trying to show off how smart they are.

And basically teaching that’s a level above almost everyone’s heads. And I guess they feel good at the end of this session, but no one else does. And it didn’t accomplish the goal that was set for so breaking things down, just making it very simple using analogies that people can understand. giving them the tools to help them basically associate the content with something that makes sense to them, I think, is my approach.

Emma [16:09]
I think learning is really a vulnerable act in and of itself, you have to kind of put yourself in a position to digest new information and also admit when you don’t understand something, and that’s very hard. And I think being part of part of being a good teacher is creating a safe environment to be vulnerable. And I think to your point, don’t make assumptions about what people know, let’s let’s break it down. Because at the end of the day repetition is it solidifies knowledge, and I think it’s better to repeat and then everyone is at the foundational level, everyone starts at the same place. Because I mean, what’s repetition is much better than making assumptions and then having half the people the last I’m curious, like, maybe in workshops, do you think it would be a good idea to say like, take periodic breaks, say like, if you have any questions like you can come up to me directly, because I know a lot of people get nervous about asking questions in public and maybe feeling dumb or not seen as intelligent for not understanding.

Angie Jones [17:10]
Yeah, I don’t even ask them to come up. I’ve started just walking around and kind of just touching basis with people in a quiet whisper like, Oh, hey, did you need anything? And if they’re okay, they’ll say, Oh, I’m okay. But a lot of people who are stuck, they’re not sure what to do. They don’t even know what questions to ask, really, they’ll you know, you can see the relief on their face that I stopped by. And it’s like, Yes, okay, here’s where I am. I don’t, I don’t know what to do. And you know, you help those people get unstuck while everybody else is working. And it’s not a big deal. You know, it’s not a whole broadcast that this person is stuck or whatever.

Emma [17:48]
That’s a great point that maybe often they don’t even know what question to ask, right?

Angie Jones [17:51]
Mm hmm.

Emma [17:52]
So what do you struggle the most with when it comes to teaching?

Angie Jones [17:56]
Hmm, probably giving people enough content without giving them too much. So I would say is probably something I used to struggle with. And I’m getting a whole lot better with it. Now I try to practice like conciseness, I don’t want to give you too little. But I want to give you everything that you need in a concise way is opposed to like elaborating on certain points, and lecturing people more kind of making it like hands on, given those analogies and different tools. So that I don’t have to talk a whole lot, but you still grasp the concepts. Does that make sense?

Emma [18:36]
Yeah, that’s like a balancing act almost.

Angie Jones [18:39]
Yeah.

Emma [18:41]
Ali, have you had like, different, like, a different challenge maybe that you’ve had to overcome?

Ali [18:46]
Uh, I think it’s so tough, because I think people forget that you have to be a subject matter expert on both teaching, and also code. And so balancing that and excelling in both of those fields is pretty, pretty hard. And it’s a lot to juggle, especially when you’re trying to show stuff off and appeal to different learning styles and maybe having to reteach stuff. If it doesn’t land the first time and evolve lessons on the fly. While you’re in front of a classroom. It’s definitely tough.

Emma [19:14]
Oh, can I actually challenge that statement real quick, because you said you had to balance being like a subject matter expert in teaching and coding. But I don’t necessarily know if you need to be an expert to teach. But I think maybe to teach a workshop, but like anyone can teach something, you know, without being an expert like blogging, right? Like we talked about when you blog, you don’t need to be an expert. Do you think that teaching in a professional setting like you do need to be an expert?

Ali [19:39]
I think it totally depends on the format. So the way that I teach at a boot camp in front of everybody, yeah, I need to be an expert. And I need to know my stuff in order to do that. I don’t think necessarily to write a blog post or do a free workshop online or something like that you do. But I would say that if you’re asking people to spend a huge amount of money on it true, dedicated their lives here at than you do.

Angie Jones [20:02]
And they often have lots of question that goes beyond the scope of what you even planned on teaching them. And so you have to know this and be able to answer those questions as well. But yeah, I agree with that. I think they’re different formats.

I definitely, like encourage people to teach in some way, whether that be a blog post, so for blog posts was something that you just learned, that’s the perfect thing to go and write like a blog post, you’re not an expert on that. But you have this fresh perspective, and you can kind of talk through what you did. And I often tell people, like don’t even look at that as teaching, because that becomes scary at that point. Because you feel like you have to be an expert. But look at that. It’s just a sharing, I’m just sharing something I did and through that people are learning. But you don’t have that whole like preface of oh, I’m the subject matter expert here.

Emma [20:54]
Or do you think like maybe as opposed to having subject matter expertise, do you think it’s more important to know how to find the answer than having like a backlog of information, ready to answer their question, or do you think it could be balanced? Like, does that make sense?

Angie Jones [21:08]
Yeah, I’m going to think about myself as a student. And if I went to like, a workshop or took an online course or something, and I had, like, a bunch of questions at the person like to know, I would probably, yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah, a little bit worried. But at the same time, you don’t expect people to know everything, right. And so in cases like those, yes, saying, Oh, okay. I don’t know for sure. But let me find out. And I know where to get the answer. That’s very helpful. But if you say that like over and over.

Emma [21:39]
Yeah, that’s true.

Ali [21:42]
Totally, totally. Have you noticed any misconceptions about being a teacher?

Angie Jones [21:47]
Yeah, I don’t like that saying, the one that is like, those who can’t do teach?

Ali [21:52]
Hey, that makes me crazy crazy,

Angie Jones [21:57]
I don’t like that. Because I definitely can do and that very much. So shapes the way that I teach my course, like the students loved coming to my course when I taught at the college. Because I would often sprinkle in like anecdotes about working in the real world. Or even when teaching conventions like those things sound like nitpicky things, like when you’re telling people Oh, it must be in this case, you know, it must be camel case, or all this must be lowercase or oh use semi colon or no semi colon and, and all of these different things just asked like, Oh, my God, you’re getting on my nerves.

But, but when I was sprinkled in things, like, okay, so most working teams, you know, in professional environments, these are the conventions that they use. So when you’re doing like your coding interviews, or when you first join a team, as a junior, it’ll be nice. If you know these things, those things resonated with them. Like they love to hear that kind of thing. And sometimes I asked questions like, oh, Professor Jones in the real world, how does this work kind of thing? So I thought that was really cute.

Emma [23:05]
I wish you were my teacher, because I could have used a heck of a lot of real world knowledge.

Ali [23:11]
Yeah, going back to your misconception to I will never forget, I had a student who came up to me and was like, you’re actually really good at coding. Like, why couldn’t you get a job coding? I was like “I did”. But I just like teaching more?

Emma [23:28]
Oh my gosh, I don’t like that statement, either. But I’m glad we’re trying to break it down. So you mentioned that your developer advocate, do you think as a developer advocate, there’s maybe some level of responsibility to learn how to teach?

Angie Jones [23:41]
Yeah, it’s a huge part of my job to be able to transfer knowledge to people. And knowing how to teach is really beneficial for me in how I write my talks, how I structure blog posts, how I put together lesson plans and courses. All of that is not just me, the engineer, but also me the teacher in understanding, like, how to get that through to people what, you know, what’s the best way to present this to them so that everyone understands it. I think that that helps me so much. And my job as a developer advocate. I love that. I love that.

Ali [24:20]
When you teach what’s kind of your teaching style, do you focus more on lectures or activities? Or demos? How do you appeal to all this different learning styles?

Angie Jones [24:29]
Yeah, so when I first started doing workshops, they were hands on, but I was talking so much like I, I would basically walk them through every single exercise, and it was kind of like, do it along with me, and have it be so exhausted by the end of those workshops, like, dead, right. And I will see other people who did workshops, and they’re like, oh, ready to go to dinner. And they had like, all this life. And I asked them, like, how, how how, how are you like this? And they explained like, Oh, well, you give them more things to do, you don’t have to like be in their face for eight hours, right. And so I started using some of that type of approach. And that’s been very beneficial. So I’ll, I’ll teach a little bit and maybe show an example. And then give them an exercise to do on their own. And so people seem to really like that a lot. They don’t tire out as much. And I think it probably sinks in better when they’re able to think it through versus just doing whatever I’m telling them to do.

Ali [25:38]
I love that I even formalize that I do, which is kind of a lecture type introduction. And then we do so kind of cut along, we all do it together. And then you all do mostly group work, and then them doing it individually as the last episode you do. So I definitely do that as well just even in a have a little bit of a terminology for it. Like that format.

Angie Jones [26:00]
I do we do; I like that, you do.

Emma [26:02]
I want to take both of your workshops. Where were you when I was learning. I’m still learning. So I will join. So what would you say is your favorite subject to teach?

Angie Jones [26:13]
I am a Java baby. I really love Java. I just did a course on Java and which is on Test Automation University. And I’ve been doing Java my whole career, I dabbled in some other languages as well, depending on like what projects I have to do for work. But Java has been the one I’ve used the most in, when I did that, cause I like fail back in love with Java like not that I wasn’t in love with it. But it was like who Java. So that’s like my favorite thing to teach.

And then I also teach a lot of like test automation strategies and techniques, which is really helpful for a lot of teams, because so many companies are struggling with this, especially in like DevOps type shops, or if anybody’s doing Agile software development, test automation is a key ingredient for there. And yet, a lot of people don’t know, not only how to do it technically, but how to think about it and how to incorporate it with their culture in their process. So I teach a lot on that as well.

Ali [27:17]
Awesome. Who do you look it up into in the industry. So who’s a teacher in code that you you are inspired by?

Angie Jones [27:25]
You know who I study like a book is Sarah Drasner.

Emma [27:32]
She is phenomenal.

Angie Jones [27:34]
I love the way that she shares content she teaches but she also like, makes all of these developer tools. And she’s just amazing. So she’s someone who I study a lot on like technique and approach.

Emma [27:48]
She’s so multifaceted too, because I remember taking her Frontend Masters course on Vue. And I watched the whole thing. And I was able to build a an enterprise of a website using view. And I just remember being like, this is who I want to be. This is yeah, she is almost unparalleled in the industry, for she’s one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever met. But she has so many strong suits. I mean, like she is she is just above and beyond. And I aspire to be that as well someday.

Angie Jones [28:16]
Yeah, I got to hang out with her. Like,

Emma [28:18]
I saw your picture. It was so cute.

Angie Jones [28:21]
And you know how like, I was a little bit afraid because she’s such a hero of mine. And you know how they say like, don’t meet your heroes.

Emma [28:28]
I know.

Angie Jones [28:29]
I was hoping she wasn’t like, odd in real life. But no, she was, she was just as amazing, if not more, and I got to like see how her personality plays into the way that she does things. So she’s just a very thoughtful person, you know, has empathy. And I think all of those things that people like called the soft skills. Those are really powerful traits when you need to teach other people how to do things.

Emma [29:00]
Absolutely. And I’ve noticed with her specifically, she delivers, like tough love in a way that’s constructive. Like she and I have had conversations where, you know, she said things to me that I really needed to hear now had they come from someone else, like it would have been really hard for me to hear. But because she creates a safe environment to have these discussions. She’s just an eye that definitely transfers over to her teaching as well, you can tell she definitely has a level of empathy. And I think along with empathy, yeah, you do need tough love sometimes. So highly agree she is a great teacher. I had I’m curious. So you mentioned you love Java, which is funny because I started in Java. And I did not like it. I think it was because I did not have a great teacher, I do feel like a teacher can also kind of make, make or break your experience learning something. But how did how do you personally learn? Like, what’s your learning style?

Angie Jones [29:52]
It’s interesting, I tweeted something not too long ago, basically saying, if you, I think, am I writing something and you haven’t, because someone else’s already written it right in any way, because you probably have a different style. And that came from me trying to learn like some new feature that just was released in Java. So I’m looking up tutorials to learn about it. And I went through about five of them Emma before I found one that I could follow, you know, those styles just did not for me, so I might I like people to like break it down. Don’t give me a whole bunch of like fancy jargon and stuff like that. Just like speak plainly. I would love some example. So a whole bunch of texts, talking about coding is not that powerful.

Emma [30:47]
Well we think about accessibility of content. It’s not just about whether or not it’s accessible from like a can I reach this perspective, but is it accessible in a digestible way can understand this? Because you’ve got people all over the world trying to read this.

Angie Jones [31:03]
Exactly, exactly. People from like different languages. Some people are like, translate it themselves and try to follow along with that. And if you’re like using all of this complex vocabulary and stuff, it’s not very, very useful for them. So I’m good. Yeah, that’s my learning style. like it. I like it plain I get plain, please give me some examples so that I understand context. And I’m good to go.

Emma [31:29]
I think I struggled a long time to understand certain technical things like promises was something I struggled so much with. Because when you go to Google, what’s a promise or what’s asynchronous programming, and you get all these results, they’re just technical jargon. And it wasn’t until, like, I heard the concept of like, ordering food at a restaurant. It’s like you order food, and you give your order to a waiter, and then they go back to the kitchen. And meanwhile, you can continue on having conversations or, you know, drinking your drinks. And then, you know, either they’ll bring back your food, or they’ll come back and be like, Oh, actually, we’re out of it. Do you want something else? So these analogies, these analogies are so accessible to people because they resonate with them.

Angie Jones [32:09]
Yep, exactly. Oftentimes, this happens all the times in books in academia everywhere, where people are telling you about some concept. And if you don’t have anything to like, I call it like, hang, hang that on to, you don’t have anything to hang that onto meaning no experience, no examples, is really hard to follow that. So in giving, like those real world analogies, so key to getting people to grasp these concepts, and be able to hang it onto something.

Emma [32:41]
Yeah. And I think too, we forget that, like you mentioned earlier about walking into a computer science course or C++ course. And there had been students there had been coding their whole lives. Well, I also I didn’t start learning how to code until my sophomore year of college. And I felt the same way where I’d walk in, and there were all these people who I knew exactly what they were doing. And I struggled for a very long time, like, I was not a good computer science student, I think I almost failed, I will, I will spell my calculus courses, which is awful. And then like, I took a cryptography course and almost failed that like, and I also want to iterate to that, if you’re not a great test taker, or a great student in terms of like the grades you receive, that doesn’t mean, you can’t be successful, like everyone has a different learning style. And I don’t think all the teachers you’ll encounter in your life will understand that. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be successful.

Angie Jones [33:33]
Right. Right.

Emma [33:34]
Yeah. So I guess I would love to and and one more question, and that is, what parting advice would you give to someone interested in getting into teaching?

Angie Jones [33:42]
Yeah, so just start off with something that’s like manageable, uncontainable and low pressure. So maybe things like blog posts, there’s a tick leak or technology that you’ve just learned and you want to share or something you’ve been doing forever, and you want to share?

A lot of times, I would just write blog posts about like my experience, here’s how I do XYZ at my job kind of thing. And then, you know, show, how do I work that in? How do I like architect the solution, and just showing all of those examples. And that was a very low pressure entry into this for me, especially like teacher professionals, like I wasn’t scared to teach like, students, because I felt like I knew a lot more than they did. But professionals, you know, there’s a lot of people who will read your thing that know more than you do. So that becomes really scary, because you’re like,

Oh, I don’t want people like correcting me publicly, or saying that I don’t really know my stuff, or whatever. And so the blog post is a nice entry into that, especially if you don’t have like a huge following and stuff already. That’s how I started, I didn’t have any followers so hard, you know, and I just was writing and no one was reading and but it was nice for me to just write those things down. And I often like visit them myself when I hit this similar problem and a new job. Or when people ask me questions, now I have that stuff that I’ve written, so I can share that back with them. So as I started writing, and kind of building up my confidence in teaching publicly, and teaching professionals, is when I started doing like the workshops, and again, that’s also not a whole lot of pressures, maybe like 30 people in your workshop. So it’s not like the whole wide world. That was there as well. And then as I just started getting feedback from people and them saying, like, Oh, that was great, you know, I didn’t understand this concept forever, until you explained it the way that you did, thank you so much. And you start seeing the impact that you’re making. That’s when I started doing like bigger stages, or, you know, the online courses and not as fearful about it.

Emma [35:55]
Yeah. And I love I love that idea of like, just because has been written about before, it doesn’t mean your voice isn’t valid, because think about like, when you go to the grocery store, there’s not just one type of cereal, right? If there was like, it wasn’t like, there would be people who just don’t eat it. So I mean, variation is good, because they’re everyone’s journey. And everyone’s vantage point is different. But I also think like, we’re in an industry where there are many solutions to the same problem. So just because you know, someone’s written about, you know, one solution doesn’t mean that’s the only solution.

Angie Jones [36:28]
Yeah, my my one piece of advice there is to just go into it thinking that you’re sharing versus actually teaching, right? Mm hmm. When you come at it from a teacher’s standpoint, or like, Oh, I’m the subject matter expert. And this is the way to do X, right? That’s when I see people kind of get attacked or questioned, because like you said, there’s multiple ways to solve problems when I’m sharing. And I say, here’s how I do x, that’s much more risky, that’s received better, right? People, they want to know other ways that people are doing things. But when you come at it as Oh, let me teach you, and this is the only way to do it. You put people on the defensive and then they start attack.

Emma [37:15]
That’s something I’ve had my eyes opened to recently, because I think that prior to like talking with more people from all over the world, I would subconsciously say like, you should do this, you should do this. And, and I’m like, Who am I to tell you how to do something, this is how I would do it. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way or that it’s the right way. This is one way. Right. I would agree. I think that that’s very important sentiment.

So So I want to thank you for your time today because it has been an absolute pleasure. you’re someone that I’ve wanted to talk with for a very long time and someone who I very much respect and if you want to go check out Andrews blog, or if you want to go check out Test Automation University, which you should, we’ll link those down in the show notes. So thank you again, so much for joining us.

Angie Jones [38:03]
Yes, thank you all so much for having me.

Kelly [38:05]
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