10 Tips from Teaching my First Python Class

Today, I returned to Code First Girls’ Python course, which I passed as a student back in the sunny days of August. Plot twist: this time, I’m doing the teaching.

Yes, as part of my CFG Fellowship programme, I’ve been paired up with two other brilliant Fellows to teach ~30 women to code. Exciting? Yes. Terrifying? Absolutely.

Here are 10 of my lessons as the session’s Lead Instructor:

  1. You don’t know how you’ll do it, til you’re doing it. All week, I’ve been wondering how on earth this I was going to do this. Still didn’t know until I was sat at my kitchen table with a live audience. Have faith that you’ll do your best!
  2. Key concepts and shared understanding are the backbone of accessibility. As it was the first class, I had to introduce lots of new concepts and terms to our students. I often felt like I was repeating myself, but actually, when I was clarifying and compounding upon what I had said, we started to gain better traction as a group and our engagement improved.
  3. Lean on your team. My Instructor team were amazing at supporting my lesson, helping fix technical issues for students, responding to queries, and dropping in advice. Their support helped me in leading the session, and was a great reminder that we were in it together!
  4. Have a huge, huge glass of water. Way better idea than the 3 tiny cups I had to see me through 2 hours talking.
  5. Everyone needs a break. Including you! I built in a 5 minute break halfway through the session for our students, and only then realised how much I appreciated the breather myself. Check in with how you’re doing, and be open with your team.
  6. Try different ways of explaining things. One of my co-instructors said she really liked the analogy I made comparing variables to sticking a post-it note on your packed lunch in the fridge. Wonder how the class felt about that one.
  7. Tech problems come for everyone, even people in technology. Is it even 2021 if you don’t ask if people can actually hear you..?
  8. There’s never a perfect time to start. I was nervous to apply for the Fellowship, as I thought I could do with more long-term industry experience first. Whilst this experience is throwing me in the deep end, being accepted onto the programme has given me more confidence in my abilities, and an early opportunity for responsibility that I wouldn’t usually receive til later in my career.
  9. Being new to an industry can be a superpower. I only completed this course myself about 6 months ago (and even did a post about my first ever class in June!) which made me wary of teaching it. However, my old Instructors reminded me that this also means I’m tuned into how the course feels for beginners, and where I need to focus extra attention for its audience. Now, I consider it as an asset to my team, rather than a shortcoming.
  10. Recognise that this is challenging, and you’re doing your best! It was a huge relief to get through the class, and hear some lovely feedback from students. I’m currently sat down with a Kinder Bueno cake (!!) from the local bakery writing this, and realising, huh, not bad for a first day.

So, those are my initial thoughts on the experience! I learned a lot today and I’m looking forward to seeing what develops over the next 7 weeks of the course. I’ll also be working with my team to implement new techniques and methods based off of today’s class.

Have you ever taught or studied an online coding course before? Would you have any advice for instructors or students? Feel free to leave them below!


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