Wednesday 24 October 2018

The importance of teaching in professional and personal development a personal account

The beginning

From my earliest days, I grew up surrounded by fun cartoons, documentaries and other educational programmes, which got me interested in Science and History. When I was young, I wanted to be an archaeologist, a firefighter, or work in IT, but not as a teacher…

During my time at school, I had boring teachers who weren’t passionate about what they wanted to teach us, but there was the odd exception. These included a History teacher, who spent his spare time as a magician, or a Maths teacher who never missed a chance to make us laugh with a good joke. These unusual teachers made me interested in their subjects.

So I chose to learn about web design and after my Baccalauréat (French equivalent of A-levels) I applied for just ONE course in Applied Arts. My teacher at the time told me that I needed several options and wouldn’t make it. But as I’m stubborn, sorry… determined, I stuck to my guns. I gave 200% to get what I wanted. And I did it.

My initial professional experience

Freshly graduated, I started looking for work, and quite quickly got jobs to earn my stripes. Great experiences, lovely and interesting people but also major disappointments.

A customer who told me I was totally incompetent, a manager who made me work at weekends and at night-time and who thought it was normal… Safe to say that for the start of a career, it’s enough to get you down and quit the industry for good. The only positives: really lovely colleagues and helping forgotten trainees, who were only up to cutting out images and ultimately learned nothing… Safe to say it’s not the perfect solution, but I kept my chin up and spent my time teaching them (Design, Motion, Front-End Integration). It’s good to feel useful but also to help stop trainees wasting their time.

Then I said to myself “Why not me?”. Maybe I can share my experience and prepare people to work in our industry. So I set myself a goal. Teaching.

The Holy Grail

I spoke about it to my friends and family, I talked about my dream, hoping that it would reach the ears of someone who’d see my potential and trust me. Then one day, a customer and friend asked me to join him in creating a BA in web development at a school in Geneva: he trusted me to manage the Front-End Development modules. I wasted no time in saying yes. An enthusiastic yes! I was finally reaching my goal.

It was no time to relax, it was a big responsibility… I needed to teach students about my job, give them tools to prepare them for the realities of the labour market and the digital industry. “How am I going to do it?” I needed to draw up the programme, prepare the lessons, set the tone, and above all not do the same as the teachers who bored me in the past… Put me off the subject. I needed to find a fun way to teach them. I decided to use humour, a friendly attitude, real and practical cases, accompanied by animated GIFs and a few small hidden references to the geek universe.

The first lesson was stressful… But it only lasted 30 minutes. I needed to present the subject, the industry, and myself, and get to know the students, their experience, their dreams, etc.

I rediscovered my passion. I’d lost it a little due to my previous experiences. This passion is driven by the desire to share knowledge and teach people how to share knowledge, and above all pride in preparing students for a demanding industry with solid knowledge.

Everything I learn, I apply at work. Teaching, listening, conveying messages, initiative, organisation. Managing a class is like managing a team and vice versa. I try to be the best teacher I can, just as I try to be the best team leader possible at work. This experience makes me grow and gives me great satisfaction.

The future

I’m going to continue down this road, training myself to train other people. Developing my ability to coach, assist, and help people. Digital technology is ever-changing: we need to prepare people for change. My change is to teach the next generations of developers and generate interest.


I’d like to thank, My teachers — without them I wouldn’t ever have kept on down this path and they made me want to do this for a living: Fabien Collinet & Luc Delsaut.
The person who trusted me to teach at CREA Geneva: Dimitri Ganevat.
My managers who trust me by allowing me to give lessons in everyday life: Mathieu Collet & Julien Ramel.

David Bernard, Front-End Lead, SQLI Switzerland

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