Stephen Tomkins is one of our coding instructors who fits in his commitment being a trainer with us around his full-time job.
How did you first get involved in becoming a programming instructor for The Developer Academy?
My former head of department was a coding instructor at The Developer Academy. He told me about it, saying that it’s a really good idea to get involved to progress with my development of teaching. I thought I’d go ahead with teaching there and I really liked it.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being an instructor for you?
Seeing the progression people have made is the most rewarding part of being a coding instructor. It’s great to watch how they understand how one part of what they’re learning clicks for them, then how everything slots into place, say in the period of as little as a couple of weeks.
It’s just nice to see where they come from and where they’ve got to. I didn’t really have much of an idea of what to expect in terms of age and range of the students before I started but I’ve seen most of our students now and there’s a very wide mix of people.
What’s the most common challenges coding students face and how do you help them tackle them?
I find that some of the students learn some of the key bits then they try to just go all in, not realising how much there is to go through. When that happens, it’s a case of explaining to them that ‘yes you are capable of this but once you’ve done x, y & z first.’ The focus is on making sure they understand that they are good enough, but that they will learn everything in stages.
How important do you think the flexibility of the training is for students?
That is one of the main selling points for our students. Some if not all of them have full-time jobs so they often don’t have the most convenient timetables. Being able to just pop into a session, whether that’s on a Tuesday evening or a Saturday – whatever suits them – is what brings a lot of people into our training.
What would you say to anyone who’s interested in learning to code but doesn’t consider themselves to be ‘techy’?
I’d just say: ‘Go for it!’ You don’t need to be able to code or be a techy person – it’s more about having a logical way of thinking. If you’ve got that, you can just go for it.
While you’re helping to support students, do you also find you’re learning or developing your own learning?
Yes, there’s been few times when a student’s been working out an answer which has made me realise that there’s another way to try something or get a solution to a problem.
What’s your background in IT/tech and what career path did you take?
I did a degree in software engineering a couple of years ago. After that I soon realised that having a full-time job just in that role wasn’t really what I wanted to do. But I was really interested in the teaching side of it. I went on to do a teaching degree last year and my teaching as a coding instructor The Developer Academy carries on from that. I do see myself staying on and hopefully developing my role at The Developer Academy as the business grows.