Cookie baker, teacher, and cat dad, Alec Goodner is not your stereotypical computer guy.
A Man of Many Interests
Alec grew up in the early 2000s and was impressed with computer pioneers like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Like those who inspired him, Alec is a man of many interests, balancing a variety of projects when not teaching at CodeWizardsHQ.
He currently works at the Crumbl cookie company where he does a little of everything, including baking cookies.
He finds that variety makes life more enriching. “Having experience in computer-related things has helped me not only in that field, but in areas of life that are not directly computer-related,” he says. “I have this different mindset, this different efficiency that helps me solve problems in different areas of my life. I try to follow that philosophy across my hobbies.”
Behind the scenes, Alec enjoys video games, 3D printing, writing, literature, and movies. Some of his favorite series are Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Gotham, and Superheroes.
“One thing I’ve been working on is my own custom board game. I’ve been developing the rules and thinking about how to use the artwork. I’ll use some coding to type up some Python simulations to see how the mechanics work.”
Teaching Creativity in Coding
Alec loves teaching kids to code and the opportunity to use his imagination while coding. “There’s a stereotype of computer guys not being very creative, but coding actually gives you options for flexing your creative muscles,” he says, adding that web development is an example that allows you to present what you design on the screen.
Likewise, there are practical reasons for learning to code. We live in a computer age. It’s always present, and things are always changing. So, even if you don’t want to make a career out of coding, you should have some basic knowledge of it so you can better interact with the world around you.
Alec, who earned a degree in Software Engineering, came across CodeWizardsHQ when considering his career options. He was impressed with the school’s dedication to teaching students real programming skills in a way that was challenging and fun. “I realized I would love to have that kind of impact on people, to help them start on their journey as well,” he says.
Encouraging Students to Grow Through Mistakes
Alec particularly appreciates seeing students become fully engaged in their projects. “Especially in the web-dev classes where they can put their own skin on things – you can tell that they put effort into it when they play with the code and make it their own. As a teacher, it’s great to see students having fun in that way, really wanting to interact with everything.”
“I often tell my students, ‘Hey, I’m just here to give you a baseline. If you want to take this off somewhere, I can help you with something that may be above your weight, but please, put your own spin on this.’ We like to teach coding in a way that students can use it on their own.”
Because interactivity is an important aspect of Alec’s teaching approach, he draws out shy students by encouraging them to speak up in class. He urges all his students to talk with each other and have fun with their projects.
“Some students get embarrassed if they can’t figure something out and have to ask you for help. And it’s usually small issues, like they forgot to indent something or add a semicolon. I have to explain, ‘It’s fine. There are people who have been in this field for years or decades, and they still make these mistakes.’ It takes some kids a while to learn that it’s OK to make mistakes. It happens a lot, and it’s part of the process.”
When working on a project, his cat, Bit, usually sits close by. When he adopted her as kitten, he chose that name because it reflected her tiny size and also his passion for computing. And he figured, if she got fat as she grew up, he could rename her Megabit.
Alec finds that teaching coding is a growth experience for everyone. “Of course, I’m helping the students learn,” he says, “ but, it’s not one-sided. I’m always interacting with them and discovering new things. I’m all about bettering yourself. I love that kind of growth and self-improvement overall.”