Category Archives: Teaching

First class is in the books

Standing out in the hallway, feeling a little awkward being back on a college campus after so many years.

“Am I prepared?”
“Will they listen?”
“Will they get it?”

Deep breath…..”Let’s roll….”

First 10 minutes or so was a little awkward, going over the syllabus, talking about me, talking about them, talking about the class requirements, etc.  Started bouncing around too much, reined it in.  Deep breaths.  Started slow, asked them about their experiences, found out more about them, used that in making my points as the class went on.
What I learned:

  • Talk to them, not at them.
  • Get them to ask questions, especially the quiet ones.
  • Appreciate ‘that person’ for speaking up repeatedly and then ask “Anyone…except Jane/Jim” and chuckle.
  • Stare at the guy on the phone until he realized you’ve stopped and everyone’s looking at him 🙂  (not have to worry about it going forward now 😉
  • Relax
  • Have Fun
  • Don’t drink your water so quickly, it’ll make you squirm while you lecture
  • Prepare differently – put together more general notes instead of specifics and stick to that list in the order you lay it out.

That’s what I learned from teaching my first class last night.  It’s a Database Design and Development class at the community college right near where I live.  22 people, FOUR HOURS, once a week.  Broke it up to give them breaks (and allow me to pee), and mostly stuck to the agenda in my head.  All of the pages of notes I wrote out sat on the desk, I didn’t even read them.

You really owe it to yourself to find something that you really enjoy doing.  If you are lucky enough, then you’ll never do a day of work.  I have to say, I’m DIGGIN teaching!  Got so fired up when they started discussing and asking questions.  Saw several ‘AHA’ moments and those are the things that make you feel really good.

Had one guy come up after class, we’ll call him G, to ask a few questions after I let them split a few minutes early.

G:      That was a great class, the best four-hour session I’ve had here.
Me:   Wow, that’s great, I’m really happy to hear that!
G:      I’m really interested in the material, but you made it so much easier to understand.  I love the way you get into it, you can tell you really love what you do and that you love teaching.  How long have you been teaching?
Me:   *looking at the clock* Um, about 3hrs and 40 min.  *smiles*
G:       Nice.  How long have you been teaching all together?
Me:   *looking back at the clock*  About 3hrs and 41 min  *smiles*
G:       That was your first class?  No way, that’s awesome!

Had a few other students walk up at that point and ask the same thing.

All:    Can’t wait till next week, Have you done lectures/public speaking before?….

and several other really nice compliments.  Ended up walking out, talking to G after closing everything down.  He’s transferring to my son’s school in the spring and was curious what I thought etc.

G:    Have you thought of teaching more classes?  You should definitely try to do more, we need more people like you here!

Even if I only reach this one kid, I’ll count this semester a success.  You know that teacher that you had for some subject in some school that you still appreciate and think about?  Yeah, that’s who I want to be.

To everyone who is thinking about breaking out of their mold/rut/routine to try something new and scary….

DO IT!

I did, and I’m stoked I did.

Giving back

One thing I’ve learned being part of the SQL Community is that they are an amazing group of people.  So many people have been incredibly supportive through my journey of the last few years, riding the highs and lows with me the whole way.

Now it’s time for me to give back some of that support.  Tonight is the first night of my class at the local community college, teaching Database Design and Development.  Four-hour class, once a week.  YIKES!

Excited, nervous, panicked, elated – I’ve been running the gauntlet of emotions for the last week, I just want to get in and start kicking stuff around.  Wish me luck!

What do you with you knew when you started in SQL?

I have a request.  I’ve been given the opportunity to teach a course at our local community college on Database Design and Development and they’ve given me room to come up with my own curriculum.  I want to create a balance of theory, practice, quizzes, and projects, but one of the things I feel like I have a great opportunity to do is to pass on some really great knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years.

Please comment below and give me examples of things you wish you knew sooner.  I’d like to put as many tools in my students toolboxes before they get moving.  Feel free to leave advice on teaching in a formal setting, keeping people’s attention and the most important thing….

How do I keep people’s attention if the class if FOUR HOURS LONG?!?!?  Two hour lecture, two hour lab, once a week.

as an example – someone mentioned on twitter that one of the most important things they’ve taught their students is the practice of always writing out a select statement to get the right number of records, THEN changing the select to update/delete, etc so as to not inadvertently have an Oh $#!& moment.  (my apologies, I went back through my feed and couldn’t find the post posted by Brian Hogan)