Batool Fareed became interested in coding when she was just a kid; her older brother was studying computer engineering and coded as a hobby.
“He used to work a lot with mobiles and computers, and I was always there watching him closely and copying his work,” she said.
Later, at school, Batool took her programming interests further, participating in tournaments in her technology classes, but she never thought coding would be more than a side interest. When it came time to choose a career, Batool decided to pursue English translation, earning her BA in English language/ Translation from Arab American University AAUP in Jenin, Palestine, and a diploma in education from the Jerusalem Open University, as well as pursuing a master’s degree in Translation from Al Najah National University in Nablus, West Bank.
Her first jobs were teaching English in schools and private centers, but then she found Tekkie Uni and to her surprise, found herself teaching something she used to do for fun: coding.
“To me, it was a hobby as well, but I never thought about it as a career till I worked with Tekkie,” said Batool. “Tekkie Uni has changed my career life!”
How did a hobby turn into a career?
Batool found Tekkie Uni through her friends and colleagues, Duha Abubaker and Majd Assaf, who also teach at Tekkie Uni. Both were already teaching coding classes with Tekkie Uni and suggested that Batool apply as well.
“They explained to me what teaching coding is like here at Tekkie and how exciting it is,” she said. “They showed me the applications and software they were using in their classes, and I really liked it.”
Once Batool started teaching application development courses, she found she enjoyed teaching coding online. Students were excited to be in class, and many of them came to class full of good ideas that helped her think outside the box and improve her own coding skills.
“I was excited about this new experience; it was easy, and I got used to it quickly. Honestly, my students at Tekkie also helped me a lot with that, you know, they always interact in class and they just love it,” she said.
She describes her first class as “unforgettable.” The kids came prepared with questions and comments, and some of the questions were so advanced, she had to ask her trainer.
“They had wonderful ideas that I’d never thought about, and I really did not want these ideas to be wasted,” she said.
Have any students had a special impact on you?
As a teacher of the Build Your First App, Step App, and Start App courses, Batool has had many students who love building apps more than once in class — some kids have worked with her for two years. She’s watched their application development skills develop, and — as a translator — she’s been happy to see their English skills grow as well.
“I teach Arab students who live almost everywhere in the world, and I truly believe that my English skills have added great value to my coding classes,” she said. “Kids were not only joining to learn how to code but also to improve their communication and language skills.”
Although Batool teaches in Arabic, her students are devoted to improving their English, she says. One student, in particular, left an impression during her very first class, when she told Batool that her English was weak, but she was committed to practicing and improving it.
“I asked her at the end of the Step App course ‘How is your English now?’ and she said, ‘It is way better than when I started two years ago,” said Batool.
That student proved that her language skill had improved by building her project entirely in English.
“I was extremely happy and very proud of her. Not only has she learned how to code, but she also learned a second language,” said Batool.
What is it like to teach kids online?
As a teacher, Batool has classroom experience, but she enjoys teaching online.
“In online teaching, I do not stick to one place; I can work comfortably from everywhere and sit in any corner at home,” she said.
It’s also more comfortable for some of her students, she said, because it removes the barriers between the teacher and the students. This is especially helpful for shy students.
“I’ve seen some students who rarely turn on their microphones in the beginning of our classes, but by the end of the course, they never stop talking,” she said, laughing.
She loves her students’ enthusiasm and finds that she’s motivated by their enthusiasm and their progress throughout the courses. When parents get in touch with her about their kids’ achievements, she’s especially proud of her work.
“Also seeing the kids taking baby steps from Scratch and eventually diving into exploring the Tekkie coding world,” she said.
How is teaching during the Coronavirus pandemic different?
While the pandemic has been difficult for parents, Batool saw that the children in her course had more time to spend on their coding projects and didn’t appear to feel disconnected from one another. In fact, two of her students collaborated on a project inspired by the virus.
“These two kids developed this app based on the idea of how kids should protect themselves from Corona and how to identify the symptoms and so on,” she said. “It was a complete app, and this was really exciting, seeing how much they were aware of the fact that there is a serious disease out there, and that they wanted to protect the lives of all kids.”
This took place in the Step App course, in which kids work on their own apps and publish them.
“I was in class explaining to them that the project needs to be special and catchy,” she said, “and one of the two students working on this project stepped up and asked, ‘Is it normal if we do something about Corona?’”
The students’ idea was that the app would be a game with different levels a user could complete by collecting points. If the user passed the level successfully, it would show his final score as Not Infected. The app, which takes the user through avoiding infection, living with Covid and making healthy choices, is currently waiting to be published in the App Store and Google Play.
“This app was done by these two students in a fun and interesting way to reflect reality,” she said.
This kind of creativity and engagement is part of what Batool loves about teaching kids.
“My students are persistent, and I also love that they keep working on their projects no matter how many times they fail,” she said. “They are very ambitious at this age and very creative.”