Y Teach?

The Art Class🎨

A couple of days ago, I got a phone call from a mom of a sixth grader who I used to teach art to. She was telling me about how her daughter misses coming to art class… even though it was two years ago.

I stopped practicing art around that time but decided to hold a summer “art camp” for a couple of kids from my community as a final project before I quit drawing (at least for the time being). When I got that call from the mom, art was probably the last thing that was even on my mind.

So hearing the kids ask me, “when can we have art classes again?!” makes me realize that what for me was a week-long art camp ended up being the force that inspired them to take up art as a hobby and extracurricular in school.

It felt nice to realize that I had some sort of impact on a person like that. Though it’s a pretty small thing, it’s cool to imagine that some of those kids whom I helped start off in art may go on to become absolute art pros and win a bunch of competitions.

More Teaching!

I realized that I tended to gravitate towards a bunch of small teaching experiences like the art class. Two teaching experiences I recently had were a Web3 101 curriculum last semester and a Research & Writing program this semester, both at Texas Blockchain at UT Austin.

When I say “teaching experience,” I’m not implying a full blown course with 45 students sitting in a lecture room with me going through material like a professor. These teaching experiences were pretty informal and small-group vibes.

The Web3 101 course was literally only three consistent students and me (sometimes a couple more trickled in) in a room going through slides, articles, videos, and having discussion. Here are some things I learned from that semester:

  • Even though only a handful of students showed up, I felt even more inspired to come teach weekly because those few students found the experience valuable enough to them to come even though no one else showed up.

  • By no means did I have to be an expert on anything I was teaching as long as I was teaching factually correct information and not just saying my opinion. If I didn’t know something, I was honest about the fact that my knowledge was also limited which helped me show the students that we’re all just learning together.

  • Most of the time, people weren’t even absorbing the information I was teaching, but to be fair, how could I expect them to learn about Byzantine Fault Tolerance in a matter of 15-30 minutes? A couple of weeks in, I realized that my job was not to make students pros on some web3 topic, but rather it was to persuade them in those 30 minutes that the topic I was teaching them about that day was interesting enough for them to go home and look into it further on their own.

Web3 101 Lessons I made which helped me learn, review, and figure out how to best organize this information

This semester, I’ve been mentoring a group of 20-ish students from the Texas Blockchain Research division to conduct deep dives on web3 topics that they’re interested in and to share their thoughts in the form of threads or articles. This experience has been decently different from last semester. Here are some takeaways from this experience:

  • It takes a couple of weeks to break the “silent treatment” moments that happen when I ask a question or try to facilitate discussion. However, it’s so valuable to persevere and get to that point because you can sense a little more comfort and familiarity in the room. All of a sudden, people who wouldn’t open their mouth are staying longer past our meetings to chat and ask questions.

  • It’s so fun to hear people’s alternative opinions or counterarguments to what I’m saying or proposing them to do. Obviously, on first instinct, both sides are backing up their own point, but people have some solid viewpoints that help me or them break out of “narrow-minded” thinking. It helps us all realize that there are multiple pathways to getting to that same stage, whether that’s for research, writing, or literally anything else.

  • The process of creating weekly lesson plans is such an undervalued experience. I haven’t been writing for too long (started last June), so this January when I started making a timeline for research and Twitter threads, it allowed me to reflect on my entire personal researching, writing, and marketing process - especially all the small tendencies. I didn’t realize how intricate the entire process was until I laid it all out. It was also interesting to see how I picked up different habits and practices from my peers and other experiences.

  • State the obvious because it may not be an obvious fact or practice for someone else. Taking this little extra effort to delineate your experiences and practices may have so much impact on someone else’s learning and flow of work.

Writing archive from TX Blockchain Research Division

Final Thoughts

I feel like the connotation of “teaching” is so stuck in the school context that people don’t realize how enrichening the experience of teaching is. It’s such a low risk but high reward way of reflecting, collaborating, and learning even more.

It could be so valuable if people think of teaching as “peer-to-peer” rather than just in the educational or professional context. We all have these different micro-expertise or cool facts that we learn daily. Everyone could gain so much value if, on an individual level, we treat our conversations or interactions like a “barter economy” where it becomes normal for us to “trade” our facts/gained knowledge of the day/week/etc (ofc in an unforced way). My personal goal is to get better at building more of these teaching/learning experiences with my peers and just being more curious in general.

When someone executes on something that you’ve taught or guided them through, it’s such a fulfilling experience. I hope my mentors and teachers feel that way when they see me accomplishing something cool :)

Rephrased definition of being a teacher, IMO: persuading your student that this topic or skill you’re trying to teach is worth their time and energy and can bring them some value in the future if they put in the effort to learn.

In honor of writing about teaching, thank you to my favorite teacher @ Ms. Brooke for showing me that writing can be fun and that if I get decent at it, it’ll help me in the future. You were right because I’m sitting here writing this instead of doing HW 😆

Thanks for reading Wide Ruled Notebook! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

Collect this post to permanently own it.
Subscribe to Wide Ruled Notebook and never miss a post.
  • Loading comments...