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How Our Teachers Combine Expertise and Passion to Make Learning to Code Accessible

By Flatiron SchoolMay 06, 2019

Our teachers are at the very heart of our mission at Flatiron School and are instrumental to our goal of helping students of all backgrounds pursue a better life through education. For Teacher Appreciation Week, we want to highlight what makes our teachers and curriculum so special—this week and all year round.

Dedication, passion, and expertise  

  • Flatiron School teachers are industry experts who want to become better teachers

  • Teachers provide guidance, feedback, training, and set clear expectations We help students change their lives through tech and that requires teachers who have a deep passion for this mission. Across our in-person and online campuses, our passionate, committed teachers bring this change to life, according to Sean Dagony-Clark, Director of Teacher Training at Flatiron School. Arriving at Flatiron School after 14 years in traditional education, Sean was impressed by the quality and commitment of Flatiron School’s instructors. “The teachers care so deeply about how they’re students do and they get emotionally affected when the student struggles,” Sean says.Our teachers represent the very best the tech industry has to offer. Soundarya R., for example, was leading a team of developers at Microsoft before becoming the Lead Software Engineering Instructor at Flatiron School Seattle. Soundarya calls teaching her “main passion” and seeing students grow is the most rewarding part of being a teacher. “I chose Flatiron School specifically since we are geared towards helping everyone make a huge career change and shift in their lives,” she says.Our teachers are experts and good teachers who are always striving to improve. “There’s genuine interest in becoming better at teaching,” Sean says. Fangfang L., our Lead Data Science Instructor at our flagship NYC campus, says the feedback she received helped her become a better teacher. She received honest feedback that helped her see her strengths and areas for improvement.Great teachers combined with a great curriculum lead to great outcomes. That’s why our teachers succeed in the classroom and why our students go on to become successful software engineers, data scientists, and designers.

In the classroom

  • Scaffolded learning describes how a teacher helps students see connections from current to new knowledge

  • Checking for understanding means making students demonstrate what they have learned in observable, measurable ways Learning to code is a challenge for both the students and the teachers. The students are learning new skills and programming languages while teachers have to find ways to create connections between complex concepts. Instead of diving deep into coding, we first immerse students in Ruby. This approach is called scaffolded learning. We start with an accessible language that builds skills that can then be applied to new languages.Ruby is relatively approachable, according to Sean. “The error messages in Ruby, for example, make more sense than error messages in JavaScript.” Students can quickly start building meaningful things in Ruby. They can now see the power of a coding language and there’s the sense of accomplishment that comes with creating something you want.In Ruby, they learn the fundamentals of coding and can then apply those learnings to new languages that they’ll learn over the course of 15 weeks. “You already know the basics. All the same rules apply but it’s just different syntax,” Sean says. “You build practice at it, you build the muscle to jump from one language to another by starting with Ruby.”This journey, from Ruby to JavaScript, is scaffolded learning in action. Going further, teachers check for understanding through code challenges or student check-ins.

Gamifying learning

  • A good video game teaches you as you play

  • We apply this principle to make learning to code engaging and accessible Once students see the potential of code, Flatiron School has built-in support systems that help them maintain that excitement. One way to do that is by “gamifying” the learning experience.Gamification uses principles from video games and applies them to a difficult subject. A video game teaches you the rules and how to complete a level while you’re playing. This could be done in a tutorial or an easier level early in the game. Maybe you’ll learn how to jump or how a newly introduced tool can be used to solve a puzzle. Completing a level is a satisfying experience and you’ll want to keep playing.Those principles can be applied to learning how to code. Avi Flombaum, our co-founder, built Learn.co, our educational platform, with that idea in mind. In a game, for example, you might fail to complete a level. Instead of starting all the way at the very beginning, the game lets you continue from a location near where you failed. You know you have to do something differently and you can focus on that problem.We take that approach when debugging code. If something goes wrong in your code, Learn.co highlights the area where the error occurred. Students know that there’s something wrong and it’s up to them to figure it out and debug their code. Students have the tools to succeed and, by internalizing those lessons, you’ll be able to fix the error and move on to the next lesson or section of code. When students complete a lesson, there’s a sense of accomplishment. What excites Sean the most about Learn.co is the personalized pacing — students can complete our courses at their own pace and completely on their own, but with built-in tools that provide support, reinforcement, and track progress along the way.

Education rooted in jobs outcomes

  • We get students jobs

  • Great outcomes can be made even better We get students jobs through great teachers, an approachable curriculum, and an innovative education platform in Learn.co. Flatiron School succeeds when our students succeed. That’s why we were the first coding bootcamp to release independently verified jobs outcomes. You can find our latest outcomes for our immersive Software Engineering program at our flagship NYC campus below.

    For more information about them, to understand how they were calculated, or to see the rest of our results, simply view our Outcomes Reports. We’re proud to have helped over 1,000 students start their careers as software engineers, data scientists, and UX/UI designers. But our work is far from over.

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The school of the future

Flatiron School’s curriculum team and teacher training team are always working on new ways to connect with the student. Our campus is your home, community, and investment. Learn.co, for example, will continue to evolve to better support students. That could include better reinforcement tools or easier ways to get support. Pedagogy is also evolving and we can apply new principles to make the bootcamp experience more rewarding for students.If you want to learn more, you can schedule a call with the Flatiron School admissions team. They would love to hear from you.

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