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Teacher Spotlight: Andrew Morgan

About Teacher Spotlight : The concept of “students first” is at the heart of everything we are and do at CodeWizardsHQ. We know students learn best when they interact with a talented teacher. We conscientiously hand-select the very best coding teachers, ultimately hiring only the top 2% of applicants. Every month we go behind the scenes to tell you more about one of our amazing teachers. This month, we bring you Andrew Morgan!

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the rainy northern end of California, in the mighty Redwoods. The beauty of the space and my father’s emphasis on outdoor activities gave me an early interest in nature: how it worked, how species are interconnected, and how they learned form each other, important lessons for any child. Bizarrely this increased my interest in technology. The nascent internet held such promise, of boundless knowledge, and offered an interconnected web of human understanding. But it was so hard to use! My first experience of computers were green and black monitors, with hilariously large floppy discs to run programs. Learning to use a computer was a serious investment in those days, but had a great reward, so I loved every minute of it.

Who/what inspired you to become a coding teacher?

My parents and sister are all teachers. Being raised this way, my natural curiosity as a child was answered with an abundance of long-winded teachings and many viewpoints. They taught me to reflect on things I learned, rather than just memorize them. This led to a deeper understanding of the world around me, a world so full of wonder and joy. I love teaching because it is an opportunity to share our amazing world with others and help explain its complexity. More importantly, I believe this next generation will have the opportunity to bring technology and nature together, and I want them to know that the coding they are leaning now, will change the world when it’s their turn to run it.

What has been the most rewarding part of teaching?

When a student takes the knowledge we give them, and builds beyond it, creating something we couldn’t have taught them. It demonstrates that the student understands the ideas, can do the coding, and has a creative mind that can move beyond it. It’s incredibly exciting to witness this process, and know I am teaching someone who will far surpass my ability in a few years.

What is your favorite project in the classes you teach?

We have a Javascript class where we make a pixel painting app; think of it as a color Etch A Sketch. Learning to code can be frustrating and slow, but colors are a universal human experience. In this class, we show the students how to pick up colors, and spread them around the page, as if they had an infinite paint pallet. They say education should build on the foundations of pre-existing knowledge, and we all know colors, and how paint works from our Kindergarten days. This class simply take those concepts and makes them digital.

What is your vision for the future of coding and kids?

Augmented Reality, and coding in 3D space. If coding was more physical and dimensional, it would be easier to understand. Students could move around outside, making code with their movements, build code blocks with gestures and thoughts, which would assemble into programs floating around their field of vision. They could make games for their friends to play in the park, like mazes, capture the flag, or a real-world Minecraft.

When you aren’t teaching, what do you enjoy doing (hobbies)?

Woodworking and gardening. I’m pretty bad at both, but they are new hobbies for me. Basically, I just like building things, be it a credenza or compost.

If you could have one teacher super-power, what would it be?

I would love the ability to sense engagement and understanding. It always hard for a teacher to gauge whether a student truly understands something, or if they are just going through the motions. Being able to sense a student is floundering in a concept would give me the cue to circle around and try it from a different angle.

What do you think is the most important thing about teaching coding to kids?

As with all human interaction, compassion is the most important part of teaching. In Psychology, there is a concept known as the “knowledge gap”: when we learn something and know it for a long time, it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t know it how to do to something. Like tying your shoelaces for example. It can be infuriating watching a child struggle with the dexterous movements needed to accomplish this daily task. It’s hard for us to remember that we too struggled to remember the steps, and how uncontrollable our hands were at that age. A teacher must always remember that everything we teach, we once learned, and that took many years.

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