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Power to the people

Who teach the people

To code

Hi, I'm Sheena

  • Been coding for > 20 years
  • Been working in alt tech ed for > 5 years
  • 90%+ of grads since 2020 have jobs

Why am I here

  • Teaching makes my heart go boom
  • Teaching teachers is much higher leverage

Who are you?

Bloom's 2 sigma problem

"The average student tutored one-to-one using mastery learning techniques performed two standard deviations better than students educated in a classroom environment"

Mastery learning techniques

Skills stack on top of skills

One to one?

  • No hiding at the back of the class
  • No getting distracted by friends
  • Most importantly: Keep learners engaged


  • Meet the learner where they are
  • Keep it engaging

Lectures and classrooms...

Are really hard to get right :/

One on one / small group teaching

  • Waaaaay more powerful
  • Waaaaay more expensive

All we have is time

What is teaching?

  • knowledge transfer?
  • answering questions?
  • solving problems?

Teaching is planting seeds


Set a learner up so that they continue to learn and grow on their own

At the end of a good "class" a learner should...

  • Feel that it is worth getting good - enthusiasm / curiousiosity
  • Feel confident that they can move forward
  • Know what steps to take
  • Be able to take those steps

Growth mindset vs Fixed mindset

  • Fixed Mindset == Belief that you either have it or you don't
  • Growth Mindset == Belief that you have the ability to grow and learn

People with a growth mindset...

  • Don't take failure personally - it's a lesson
  • Look at a struggle positively
  • More willing to seek out help (instead of hide deficiencies)
  • Less judgemental when others struggle
  • A lot more

It's a spectrum

Foster a growth mindset in...

  • The people you teach: it amplifies their rate of growth
  • Yourself as a teacher: You can become a better teacher

Framework for small group teaching

Meta... what?

Awareness and understanding of one's own thought process. Thinking about thinking

Practically speaking...

Help the learner be a better learner by teaching them how to learn

Teaching code

Teaching fundamental coding concepts


						def foo():
						    print("hi there")

						x = foo() 
						print(f"x = {x}")

What about "Hands off the keyboard"?

  • There is nothing magical about the keyboard
  • The magic is in keeping the learner engaged and following along

When does "Hands off the keyboard" apply?



  • Be a detective/mind-reader/scientist
  • Maintain good signal to noise ratio
  • We are training coders, not parrots
  • What will the code PRINT



  • Try to be a guide rather than give a mini lecture
  • In your pocket
  • Trust no one!

=> Catalyse further growth

  • Retrieval practice
  • Push it further
  • Learning is hard!

Foundational practices and mindsets

  • The opportunity to be wrong
  • Psychological safety
  • Celebrate small wins
  • You can do this yourself!

The protégé effect

(Can be used in 1:many classrooms)


  • Learn about the science (and pseudoscience) of learning - Make it stick
  • Learn about growth and fixed mindsets
  • Teach someone

The end

These slides - extra resources - links to my socials


  • Wikimedia attribution:
  • Creative commons licence

One on one mastery learning techniques


Teaching fundamental coding concepts

A good teacher

  • is a detective - focus on understanding the learner
  • teach the learner to test their own skills
  • create opportunities for the learner to be wrong => opportunities to level up
  • celebrate the wins