About teaching technology skills

Newly Found Respect

I went back to high school in September. Other than parent-teacher nights and occasional class reunions, this is the first time I have been in high school in over 50 years. I am part of a nine-person team (one real teacher) and eight volunteers who are teaching Advanced Placement Computer Science (Java) in one of our local high schools. (more…)

Why I Teach

Since 1991, I have taught both technical and personal growth classes. I taught emerging technology classes to corporate audiences all over North America from 1991 through 1997 when I got tired of the travel. I have taught personal growth classes since 2002, mostly through The Mankind Project and mostly to men. Today, I watched a TED talk by Simon Sinek that asked me to consider not what I did, but WHY I did it. And my answer is simple: when I see a student’s eyes light up because he or she understands something new, I get a huge rush of satisfaction.

I will freely admit that I get greater satisfaction out of the personal growth teaching I have done with men. That work is about helping men wake up and grow up. It is about becoming more authentic. It is about learning to look deep within and invite my personal dragons to tea, and then helping other men do the same. This work brings me great joy, but not a lot of money. I continue to do it, but mostly on a volunteer basis.

Fortunately, I don’t need a lot of money, but I do need a bit more than Social Security offers if I want to keep my house and be able to go out to dinner every once in a while with my wife of almost 40 years. And fortunately as well, I have spent much of the last ten years developing complex database-driven websites that can run entire businesses using Microsoft SQL Server, C#, Visual Studio and (more recently) jQuery. I have developed a very clear understanding of what works well and what doesn’t, and how to structure the code for maintainability, efficiency and security. And I want to teach others how to do this.

I am actively looking for the right venue to teach this knowledge. Ideally, it will be face-to-face and in Bellingham, where I live, so I am checking the local colleges to see if there is a possible match. I may have to break down and create on-line classes, but that is my last choice, not my first. Why? Because I want the human-to-human interaction that is best realized in a classroom.

Please wish me luck, and if you like where I am going with this, refer them to this site.


Full Stack Programming

Three years ago, I found myself in a position where I had to develop complex, data-driven websites with no support from any other programmers. I had to build the whole site myself, bottom to top. Fortunately, I am quite adept at the back-end portions of the web site, in this case, Microsoft SQL Server with ASP.NET; however, I was not at all comfortable with JavaScript and jQuery. I had to teach myself the skills I was missing. I learned to make Google my best buddy (outside of my wife), and when I left that job, I knew the technology stack quite well. Then I heard a term that described what I had become: a “Full Stack Programmer.”

I am now entering “semi-retirement.” That means I don’t want full-time employment, but I still want to exercise my brain. I am also at the stage in life where it is increasingly important to give back. I have spent many years writing software of all types, and I have learned more than a few lessons along the way. I have also developed a clear understanding of how to build multi-tiered websites that access data securely and provide high-performance user interfaces. And now, I want to teach these skills to new programmers.