CodeWizardsHQ teacher Greer Jansen counts coding as one of her many interests and hobbies in life. For her, teaching coding is all about showing her students how programming can both enhance what they like to do now and help them in the future.
The Thrill of Solving the Puzzle
Like many of our teachers, Greer discovered her passion for coding in college. She had several friends in the computer science program who encouraged her to check it out for herself.
“It seemed like they were having fun and I ended up really enjoying it, too. There’s sort of a puzzle aspect to it, especially in a lot of those intro classes, and that’s just something I’ve always really enjoyed doing. There’s like a little dopamine rush when you get it right, it’s very addictive.”
Ultimately she double majored in theater and computer science and did some teaching with a computer science program before finding CodeWizardsHQ last year. During her time as a teacher with us, Greer has already taught classes for our elementary, middle, and high school programs.
“It’s a lot of fun to be around students who are just sort of starting out because for me learning to program was something that I found really exciting. It’s interesting to jump between the different grade levels and sort of see what’s up and what’s going on in each different group.”
In all of her classes, one of the things she enjoys the most is witnessing that moment when the idea of programming finally clicks for each student and how much that unlocks for them both in and outside of class.
“When people first start it’s very tricky and it seems very challenging and then it seems like there’s a point at which people’s brains just kind of make a little leap and they start to see their programs very differently. They start to really be able to understand and conceptualize a lot of these abstract concepts and once that happens, they don’t really go back. It’s pretty interesting to see that switch happen and talk through the concepts to bring them there. When you learn to program, it makes you better at programming a computer, but I think it also just sort of changes the way you are able to think about abstract concepts kind of generally across your life.”
A Life Full of Learning
When she’s not teaching a CodeWizardsHQ class, Greer has a wide variety of hobbies that keep her active and constantly learning. Before the pandemic, she took her love of skating to join a roller derby team. These days she keeps up her skating skills by skating at the beach. She’s also gotten really interested in learning more about botany.
“I like plant identification and like to go out and see what’s around that can I eat that’s just growing in a field. I also make a lot of kombucha and sauerkraut and I’ve also been working on growing oyster mushrooms.”
Going back to her theater roots, she also does freelance costume making with some local seamstresses.
The Importance of Perseverance
Looking back on all the classes she’s taught, one of her favorite experiences was working with a student who didn’t let a challenge discourage him from continuing his coding journey.
“I had one student for several classes and he didn’t catch on as fast as some of the other kids, but he really liked doing it and he was very persistent. He didn’t get discouraged by it even though it was challenging for him. There was a lot of growth there and that was pretty cool to see.”
Persistence is actually one of the key messages Greer tries to pass along to her students. She reassures them that it’s OK if starting to code is challenging and to just keep practicing what they learn in class.
People talk a lot about a fixed growth mindset being an issue for a lot of students, and it’s interesting to see how students deal with the challenge of not being able to get something right away. I do try to really stress not to be discouraged. I tell them this is really hard, your brain is learning a totally new way of thinking. It just takes a lot of practice.
Witnessing that hard work pay off is the ultimate inspiring moment for Greer, watching students take what she’s taught them in class to make something of their own.
“It’s nice when your students are excited about something and they’re able to take the tools you teach them and build something awesome on their own time. I think that’s really rewarding.”