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How I got involved with Canada Learning Code


Sometimes when things happen they happen quickly. For me, in most cases, this can be a good thing as given enough time, I’ll rationalize the situation and talk myself out of what could be a wonderful opportunity. This time, however, I dove right in feet first.

I recently made a point to seek out local meetup groups. It was at one of these meetup events where I met Scott Vinkle, who I didn’t know at the time was a Kingston Chapter co-lead for Canada Learning Code.

Fast forward a few weeks at a different meetup, Scott introduced me to Jessica Bredschneider who, as it turns out, is one of the other chapter leads. During the initial meet and greet conversation with Jessica, Scott indicated to her that I knew a few things about a few things, both were eager to ask if I was interested in helping out with upcoming CLC workshops. I was unsure at first, but told Scott and Jessica it sounded interesting and that I’d consider it.

The Stage is set

Roughly a week later Scott sent me a DM on Twitter.

Hey Tim! Are you interested in teaching WordPress? We (Canada Learning Code) are running a WP workshop …

I said sure sounds interesting. Wait a second what am I doing ??

After typing this back and making a solid commitment, the “talking myself out of things” started.

I read Scott’s message again. He said “lead instruct?” Yep, lead instruct. I mean sure, in a management position that I held in the past I’ve done some client presentations and lead meetings in a boardroom type setting, but I’ve never formally taught anything.

You can do this you enjoy teaching

Queue the pep talk from my wife Laurie. She helped me realize a few things about myself, including:

  • Outside of a formal setting, I’ve been helping people learn code for years. I love the light bulb moments, helping other developers get over the hump of understanding new concepts.
  • I love seeing people play around and get over their fears of “not doing things the right way.”
  • I bring with me many years of knowledge from working in the industry to draw upon. I have all the pieces, I now just need to put them to use.

I was starting to feel the confidence rise, but was still unsure of a few things when it came to teaching and leading a CLC workshop!

There’s a support system

When it comes to helping out first-time instructors, Canada Learning Code has a great support system. They have other volunteers at workshops called mentors who are there to help learners during the sessions, and in turn, help lead instructors stay focused on their task of teaching. That was a comforting thought.

The material I would be teaching was also supplied — this is huge especially as a first time instructor.

Leading up to the day I would be teaching, I had a one-on-one instructor training session over a video call. Yet again, this kind of support from CLC really helped boost my confidence. We went over what to be prepared for during the day.

For example:

  • Adapting to the needs of the class for pacing
  • Wifi and other technical issues that sometimes come up
  • “You don’t need to finish the slides”. This one was good to hear and stuck out
  • Mentors need things to do

The setup to support new lead instructors is A+ all the way as they go over all the details needed to have a successful workshop.

Things are about to get real

Even after all the positivity and support sent my way, I still had some self doubt.

Seeing all the tweets about the event and giving me shout-outs was cool, but also a reminder of “the day is coming.” I retweeted a few to “lock myself in” and to make sure I didn’t back out. Believe it or not, I’m a fan of getting comfortable being uncomfortable and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It just takes a bit of a push to get there.

The Workshop

The day of the workshop finally came!

I presented the material and slides provided by CLC and also spoke to my personal experience. I definitely got more comfortable presenting and speaking about my experience as I went.

Throughout the day some of the learners asked questions about WordPress best practices and tips I could offer. The currently evolving WordPress dashboard presented some challenges. It was on one of my first slides when I heard “I don’t have that button on my screen”… flash back to that prep session “Mentors need things to do”. Thanks mentors ?

I didn’t count but there were likely 20–25 learners that day. All in all it was a great day!

Hey Tim are you interested in being a mentor?

So now I’ve signed up to be a mentor for some upcoming workshops and yes I’ve started to talk myself out of it. So be it, I’m moving forward.

I’m not the only one that struggles with this — do a quick search to find endless posts about self doubt.

Now you have a decision to make.
Are you going to talk yourself out of it again this time?
Or, are you going to buck up, believe in yourself and move forward via

In the past couple of years I’ve pushed myself to engage more on social media, write posts, publish open source software and start a newsletter. Now teaching workshops and mentoring.

Get Involved

Initiatives and organizations like Canada Learning Code are great ways to share your skills and give back to the web community. It’s also a great way to meet others in your local community. Perhaps the people you’re teaching will end up teaching and mentoring others!

Follow and Read More from Tim on his Medium page here!

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