Julieth Macol Tobar’s passion for learning is what drove her to become a teacher in the first place.
“When you are a teacher you get the chance to meet people who come from different backgrounds,” says Tobar, who teaches Robotics for Kids. “You get the chance to inspire them, but you are also lucky enough to learn from them. That has helped me build a better perspective of the world.”
Julieth, a native of Ibague, Colombia, has been teaching since 2011 when she was a student in college. Her first classroom experience was teaching first graders, but her love of learning has been lifelong.
“Since I was little, I knew I wanted to explore the world and learn about other places, cultures, and people,” she said. “My passion was learning and traveling.”
How a teacher with a passion for travel became a coding instructor
Julieth’s desire for adventure led her to her first job as an English teacher. The job was everything she wanted; she was able to learn about other cultures and travel — Julieth has worked with students from many different countries and backgrounds. She was part of an educational project led by Bogota’s mayor office in which she gave English workshops to kids from public schools. She’s also fulfilled her dream of traveling, working in schools as well as on a cruise ship, where she was a youth counselor.
After her work on the cruise ship, Julieth was interested in settling down in Uruguay, but she was concerned about finding work there because she was new to the country and didn’t have the personal network she’d need to find work as a teacher outside of its capital, Montevideo.
“It was not very easy because Uruguay is a small country and if you don’t live in the capital, you won’t get many chances to get hired no matter how good or professional you are,” she said.
Julieth started looking through job ads in the paper and found a post seeking coding instructors for Tekkie Uni. She didn’t have any experience as a coder, but due to her experience as a passionate and talented educator, she got an interview and was hired (Tekkie Uni taught her everything she needed to know about coding).
How do you connect with kids when you’re teaching remotely?
Before her job with Tekkie Uni, Julieth had always taught in person, but she’s still able to create a connection with kids in the virtual classroom. She’s able to inspire them — even if they’re having a hard time with (or don’t like) the course material.
“When I’m about to finish a meeting with a group, I tell them their imagination and curiosity are their only boundaries, and I also tell them that they can always go beyond those boundaries,” says Julieth. “I invite them to explore their ideas and look for different ways to make them come true.”
If the class is starting a new project and any of the kids think it seems boring, she challenges them — how can they make the project cooler? What do they like and how can they combine it with the project they’re working on?
Asked how her students are holding up under the Coronavirus lockdown, Julieth says her students seem to be growing closer to one another.
“In the meetings, they mention missing each other, that they are waiting for the meeting to take place, and we start the meetings asking about each other’s health,” she says. “In some groups I have kids who always say farewells with something like ‘don’t forget to wash your hands, don’t go out and take good care of yourselves.’”
It’s a demonstration of something she’s learned over the course of her teaching career — that to build real connections, you need trust — between students, and most importantly between students and the teacher.
“In my opinion, when you are teaching, no matter what the subject is, it is key to get your students’ trust,” she says. That has held true for her throughout her years of teaching, no matter her students’ backgrounds or challenges. As long as she’s been able to be patient and gain her students’ trust, she’s been able to form connections with them and teach them.