While professionally working as an engineer, I also became a teaching assistant. I saw this as a way for a shy guy with big glasses, like me, to meet more people. Little did I know that this would become an important part of my life, even 25 years later.
I jumped at the opportunity to move from a teaching assistant into the role of a teacher, and I will admit that it wasn't always easy. I vividly remember one of my first bosses telling me that I wasn’t good at teaching. I was completely taken aback by this! He said, "You think that just because you are a good coder, you're a good teacher. And that's not true." He wanted me to see that knowing well and teaching well are not the same thing.
So I started practicing to become a better educator. I worked on my class materials and how to use stories and experiences to connect with complex coding concepts. I improved how I speak to students and, most importantly, how to utilize silence. I learned to wait for my audience to answer in order to hold stronger conversations. I found myself becoming more extroverted and comfortable talking to new people. It’s helped me grow exponentially, especially as a leader, and it’s something I’m continuously working on — a never-ending process of learning that has helped me hone-in on improving every part of myself.
Teaching, to me, has not only improved who I am, it’s also given me passion for empowering those around me. I think of it in terms of bubbles. If you push bubbles into water, it creates this dynamic that pushes everything up. That's what it feels like with teaching - you're putting all this energy in, and the bubbles rise to the top. When you teach, you have 30 people in the classroom, and you know that 29 aren't paying attention. But if there's just one that takes notes, asks questions, makes an effort and rises to the top, it's the best payment in the world.