With a degree in Data Science and Business Analytics, Shannon is a bubbly and charming educator with the brains to match! Get to know the personality behind the brains and her experience as a Coding Lab educator! 😊
What are some of your passions and hobbies outside of the classroom?
I love to bake and solve Sudoku puzzles! As someone whose favourite subject is Mathematics, most of my hobbies revolve around calculations or numbers. I also have a pet dog. Playing with my dog after a day of work makes me relaxed and refreshed!
What inspired you to learn coding?
With the rise in demand for the skill of coding, I thought it would be useful to learn coding as well as it would be a good skill to hone, regardless of whether I would be using it in my job. Moreover, Math has always been my favourite (and coincidentally the best) subject in school. Hence, I pursued the Data Science and Business Analytics degree that allowed me to do both Math and Coding!
How did you get started with Coding? Was it difficult and did you have guidance?
I started out by using the R programming language in university when studying for my Data Science and Business Analytics degree. It was difficult at first as I did not have any prior experience with programming, and the module that I took started straight away with machine learning using R. To help me understand programming better, I relied on resources like Google and videos.
Having experienced working with data structures and data visualization, why do you think they are important skill sets for children to learn and develop?
Data is everywhere. Data alone does not mean or show much, but organize data in a graph or chart and it would show trends, patterns, outliers. Just like the number of Covid-19 cases, looking at the number per day on its own would not mean much, but put a year’s worth of numbers in a graph and it would show trends, patterns and can even be used to predict when the next peak might be! Hence, it is important to learn how to present data in a visual context and how to analyze the data and tell a story. And this should be done as early as possible! Just like how the Coding Lab curriculum teaches 10-12 years how to plot graphs and pie charts using Python in the ACS Python Math research area.
When did you first realize or what was the moment that made you realize you would like to become an Educator?
Back in secondary school, I would coach my friends on their schoolwork. My friends found me patient, and I got that sense of satisfaction when they understood the question/answer after my explanation. That was when I realized I love to teach!
How long have you been at Coding Lab and what classes do you teach at Coding Lab?
As of July 2022, I have been with Coding Lab for 7 months! I teach coding to a wide group of students who range from ages from 7-18. For 7-9 years olds, I teach Scratch, a visual programming language with a friendly, colourful drag-and-drop interface, that allows the younger learners to create their own projects and make programming more intuitive. For 10-12 years olds, I teach App Inventor, which contains an intuitive visual drag-and-drop interface that allows students to create their very own mobile apps. I also teach Python Junior for this age range, where students combine math and Python together to solve math questions using Python! For 13-18 years olds, I teach Python, a language suitable for beginners, and how to use Python to solve math questions!
Why do you think it’s important to teach coding to the next generation?
Coding is becoming an important skill to have, and it is good to start learning as early as possible. Do not be afraid to make mistakes! You are bound to face errors as you code, do not lose hope and give up. Seek help from someone else or search up how to rectify the error online. Make sure to start and fully understand your basics as well.
Basics are normally the boring and “dry” part, but having a full knowledge of the basics would help you in understanding as you progress further!
What’s the best part about being a teacher?
The best part about being a teacher is watching my students leave every class having enjoyed the lesson, and cannot wait for the next lesson to learn more! Some students would even thank me for teaching them and ask me this question when they are about to advance up to the next course: “Will you be the one teaching me again? Please say yes.” This gives me an affirmation to my teaching and makes me want to further improve. It makes my day as well! Watching students get that “Eureka!” moment after understanding my explanation or my hints always gives me a sense of satisfaction. It shows that the student fully understands the concept or question, and has gained knowledge in one small area. And I am a part of it! That thought keeps me going even until now.
What have you learned from your previous experiences in school and work that you feel, continue to be relevant in your current role as an educator at Coding Lab?
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
This quote has been my teaching philosophy in my previous work experiences, and continues to be in my current role. For example, using “big” words may make a teacher look professional and profound in his/her own knowledge, but it would defeat the purpose of teaching a class if the students do not understand! Hence, using the quote, I always remind myself to teach/explain in a way that students can understand.
How do you normally conduct your classes?
Classes would start with me introducing myself and the class rules if it’s the first lesson, or starting with a recap for the other lessons. Then, it would be explaining the concepts that we would be learning for the lesson and it would lead to me asking the questions: “Can understand? So far so good? Can we move on?” If all is good, then we would proceed to try by ourselves first before I go through the sample code. The class will end after a few QnA if needed, and it’s “see you next lesson”!
Do you have any memorable stories from your classes that you would like to share?
Many classes are memorable to me for different reasons!
One reason would be when I can bond with the students through a similar topic. Once, a student and I showed each other pictures of our own pet dogs, and the student asked if mine was a fake toy dog, which he then quickly clarified that it was a compliment as my dog looked as pretty as a toy dog, which I appreciated a lot! Another class would be my current Sunday ACS class, where the students and I found a common topic to talk about while resting our eyes during eye break: Peppa Pig.
Another memorable story was a girl in one of my previous Python 1 classes. She may not be the best student in terms of coding, but she is definitely one of the most hardworking. She was even willing to have a Zoom meeting with me at 10pm just so that she could clarify her questions! I think students who put in effort to learn are the most memorable to me.
Do you have any advice for others who may be looking to transition into being an Educator?
Put yourself in the shoes of your students and teach in a way they can understand. Most importantly, enjoy what you are teaching and the students will enjoy what they are learning too! Have fun!
Thank you for your time Shannon! We love your enthusiasm for teaching and we know your students feel it too! We look forward to dropping in on your classes as you continue to inspire your students in their work.
(Written by Lech)
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