Teaching programming isn't always an easy task. No matter how excited you might be about coding, it's difficult to share that enthusiasm when your students seem uninterested in programming or intimidated by the subject. Luckily, there's a lot you can do to teach programming more effectively - and to get more students excited about creating their programming projects. These tips will help you create a programming-friendly learning environment.
1. Make it fun.
The recent trend of "gamification" works very well with programming. There are plenty of online resources to introduce your students to the basic principles of coding. Make sure to get hands on and let students work on actual projects as well. This hands-on approach gives students a real sense of making progress, which can motivate them to keep going. Programming languages like AngularJS and PHP and C# are scary at first, but once students learn the basic rules, they can begin completing challenges, and even coding their own computer games which can an excellent way to have them tackle large products they are genuinely interested in.
2. Emphasize that coding is about solving all kinds of problems.
Programming isn't just a dry, technical subject. It requires creative thinking, and it can actually be a lot of fun. Be sure to not only highlight the professions that programmers are currently occupying, but mention the cool applications of computer languages on our world. What are some amazing things happening that came from computer programming?
3. Encourage experimentation.
Encourage your students to try different things with their programming projects. Let them set their own goals, make their own mistakes, and test-drive different programming languages. Offer to help when they get stuck, but don't micromanage. Giving your students a measure of independence with their projects will help them discover the types of programming they enjoy doing most.
4. Help students find role models.
Many students don't know anyone who programs for a living. They often don't know what a day in the life of a programmer is like, and they might not even be sure what you can do with a computer science degree. You can help clear up the mystery surrounding computer science and coding by showing your students real-life examples of where their programming skills can take them. One great way to do this is by inviting guest speakers to your classroom.
5. Let students choose projects they enjoy.
It's a given that students are always going to pay more attention and work harder when they're doing something they enjoy. Instead of making all of your students work on the same type of programming project, give them many options so they can choose one that intrigues them.
Teaching programming is a challenge, but it's an important job. The knowledge that you share with your students could change their lives. Start using these tips in your classroom, and your students will start to share your enthusiasm for programming. If you sufficiently motivate them, you can start to expand on ways they can continue to develop these skills in the summer through summer programs and open courses online.