Rachel is our nurturing and patient educator. With her enduring passion for teaching and guiding young students along the path to coding literacy, our Educator Rachel is here to share about her teaching experience with Coding Lab.
Hello, Rachel! Could you share about yourself and how you embarked on your coding journey?
My background in coding originates from my Diploma in Electronics, Computer and Communications Engineering at Nanyang Polytechnic. Coding actually wasn’t my first choice, but having been given the chance to enter the course, I decided to make good use of the opportunity.
I picked up programming languages such as C++, C# and VHDL (Very High-Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language is a description language used to describe hardware). I then went on to complete my final year by featuring on the Director’s List!
Overall, my learning experience throughout the course highlighted the importance of coding as a future-oriented skill to me. It also inspired me to venture into hardware electronics and coding as a career.
“I’ve watched so many of my students learn and grow. It truly makes teaching a really rewarding career, and it’s heartening to know that I contributed to their learning journey in their lives!”
That’s amazing! What inspired you to teach?
Since my teenage years, I had always considered teaching and early childhood-based careers. I also used to participate in volunteering events for beneficiaries, such as food drives and spring cleaning, and found joy in helping and interacting with others. What I love the most is being around kids – their infectious energy makes me feel like a kid again myself!
When my older brother also suggested teaching as a career to me and I came across Coding Lab, I decided to give it my best shot. This was back in 2018, when I officially joined the team. I still remember when I first entered the Parkway Parade campus, I was pleasantly surprised by the ‘chill’ environment! The green beanbags really added to the comfortable learning atmosphere and made me feel right at home.
Fast forward to today, where I’ve watched so many of my students learn and grow. It truly makes teaching a really rewarding career, and it’s heartening to know that I contributed to their learning journey in their lives!
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Coding Lab?
The flexibility of my schedule is something that I really like. I also enjoy conducting Coding Lab’s curriculum! From teaching preschoolers to older coders and hands-on hardware, knowing that there will always be subsequent batches of students who can learn from it is endlessly exciting.
I do get attached to my students, so it does feel a little sad when they graduate from a course – especially my term students, who I see weekly for months. But it is truly bittersweet as I know that their learning experiences and knowledge will be with them for life!
“Our courses show children little glimpses of fields they might choose to pursue in the future, opening up potential career paths.”
Why do you think it’s important for children to learn coding?
Coding hones logical thinking. It involves programming computers to make logical decisions – but as the programmers behind the coding, the children’s thought processes are strengthened too. There are applications beyond practical usage too – it can help in making rational life decisions, such as weighing the pros and cons about their future.
Coding is also beneficial to students regardless of their intended career pathways in the future. For instance, Scratch encourages creativity and inspires them to explore other things such as animation. App Inventor gives kids hands-on experience in creating games and software. Python trains students in statistical analysis. Our courses show children little glimpses of fields they might choose to pursue in the future, opening up potential career paths.
Are there any memorable moments you’ve had with your students?
Yes, I’ve definitely had many! Once, a student baked a box of homemade cookies as a show of thanks at the end of a course. Another student drew a card depicting me at my table with a laptop – she even included the detail of my ponytail!
Oh, and one more that comes to my mind – after physical classes first resumed (during the pandemic), a student and his mother gifted me a homemade unicorn mask after a 5-day camp. I keep these heartwarming moments close to my heart, and it’s also great fun to see each and every student’s different talents and abilities outside of classes!
You mentioned the break in physical classes – the pandemic has shifted some Coding Lab classes online. How has this transition been for you?
It was actually a smooth transition for me! I’m well-practised at using my computer for work, so there wasn’t much of an issue – I was already comfortable with online communication, webcams, chat monitoring and other features. Multitasking with two devices was a big learning point for me though! Overall, working from home has allowed me to comfortably save time on travelling.
But physical classes are good too! It’s good to be back at the learning centres. When students that have been attending classes online for months suddenly transition to physical classes, it almost feels as if we’re long-lost friends being reunited! Some students are more silent during online classes, but become really active and participative in physical mediums. It’s like seeing two sides to the same student!
Apart from being a Coding Lab Educator, how do you enjoy your free time?
I create art – drawing sketches, and doing arts & crafts. I’m currently in the process of completing a pixel canvas piece. I also like to collect K-pop albums – especially those by Red Velvet and NCT. As for gaming, I’ve assembled a custom-built desktop PC from selected parts.
I love to spend time doting on my pets, too – I used to have hamsters when I was young, and I’m thinking of adopting another. I also go crazy for Corgis and cute characters!
Lastly, do you have any advice for your fellow educators?
Keep Calm and Teach. The best learning and teaching is when you’re having fun with your students! Don’t be deterred if you don’t have much coding experience; you will be able to learn programming in your own time. Even if you are new to a certain curriculum, the Coding Lab team will always be there to support you – so, don’t be afraid to seek help if you have any questions.
Thank you so much for sharing your Coding Lab experience with us, Rachel! Your passion and dedication for education is an inspiration to us all. We look forward to hearing from the many more children you’ll continue to guide along the path towards coding literacy!
(Written by Cheryl Tang and Lixin Foo)
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