Jennifer Amor never planned to be a coding instructor, but she’s always been a teacher in one way or another.
“I never wanted to be a teacher in the traditional sense. But I always loved teaching other people what I know,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer was born in Manila, in the Philippines, but now lives in Ontario, Canada. As the oldest girl in her family, she’d often find herself in the role of teacher. She helped her little sister and her cousins learn the piano, then later found herself in other teaching roles: becoming a camp counselor and a skating instructor at a young age.
Later, after earning her Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, she worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor and yoga instructor — all teaching jobs, even if she didn’t call herself a teacher in the traditional sense.
“What I love to do is just share what I know,” said Jennifer. “I get a good feeling when I see others develop the skills that I have taught them, and that’s when I realized that it’s not the subject I am teaching that matters, it’s just the fact that I love sharing things that I know how to do.”
Coming to Tekkie Uni
Jennifer never set out to teach code. In fact, she’d never done any programming herself. Her job at Tekkie Uni fell into her lap when a friend who worked at one of Tekkie Uni’s sister schools heard that Tekkie needed instructors.
Her friend is an English instructor and had been trying to get Jennifer to come teach with her. Jennifer said no, teaching English didn’t appeal to her, and that’s when her friend told her about Tekkie Uni, a new coding school for kids.
“I was very intrigued,” she said. “So, I went through the application and interview process with an open mind.”
Coding was new to her, but as Jennifer went through Tekkie Uni’s instructor training and learned how to build her own apps, she felt a sense of accomplishment. She’s enjoyed being able to share that feeling of empowerment with the kids in her classes.
Helping kids learn by letting them problem-solve
If your child has ever been in Jennifer’s class, you’ll know that she’s a patient instructor who helps kids by encouraging them to think through problems on their own and find their own mistakes.
“I let them struggle a little bit with the advanced exercises and find their own mistakes,” she says, “I tell them that I know it seems that I’m being mean, but I want them to keep trying to find a solution and try things before giving up.”
Jennifer’s goal is not for her students to do everything perfectly the first time — she wants them to make mistakes, learn from them, and experience the joy of figuring out the solutions to problems for themselves, instead of having her hand them the answer.
In fact, her proudest moments in the Tekkie Uni classroom have been with kids who have trouble understanding the subject material at the beginning of the course.
These are the students who might not really interact during class. They might have problems with the work and Jennifer might have to spend a lot of time explaining concepts and helping them correct their errors, but despite their struggles, these kids keep coming to class.
All that hard work usually pays off, she says. Near the end of the session, those are the kids who answer all the hard questions, who understand variables — the hardest concept taught in the first-year coding course — and when they enter the second-year course, they are well-prepared for more advanced work.
“They end up being the kids who understand the most,” she said. “Every time this happens, it is a proud moment for me.”
Teaching and learning with Tekkie Uni
Jennifer jokes that “she didn’t know what she was getting into” when she started working with Tekkie Uni — she knew how to teach when she first started, but not how to code — but learning about programming and nurturing her students’ talents and creativity has been an amazing experience for her.
“The values of Tekkie Uni are in line with my values,” she said. “I believe that learning should be fun. That we should express our creativity, that responsibility should be instilled in kids early and of course, we should always challenge ourselves to do something new and different.”