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When Students Teach the Teachers: 3 Lessons Learned From Teaching Kids to Code

graphic of a guy on his computer as he sits on a giant laptop

They might be little, but we learn so many lessons from teaching our students to code.

Code Naturally has been teaching kids for a couple of years now, and in addition to the positivity, enthusiasm, and energy we experience from interacting with our students, we’re able to learn from them. After all, being able to learn from our students is part of what makes teaching so special.

Over the years, we’ve learned several different unforgettable life lessons from our students. Here are the three most important lessons — lessons we try to apply to our lives every day.

3 Lessons Learned from Teaching Our Students

1. Choice is a key ingredient to learning

When we stay “in control” we mean giving students a choice – they love choices (almost as much as they love candy.)

Getting to make choices is a benefit and perk of being a grown-up, so we try to allow our students to enjoy it as much as we can. This was important for us to realize since every individual determines their future through their decision making – to pave their own individual path.

When students have the opportunity to outline their goals in detail, they’ll learn whatever is necessary to make those goals reality. The kids appreciate the opportunity they’re given to prove how mature and capable they are. And this ownership allows them to exercise their creativity.

By giving our students control, we give them ownership of their learning, their classroom, and their lives.

Students bringing their ideas to life using the Code Naturally App

2. Learning is not “one-size-fits-all”

Learning key concepts, whether they’re for programming or not, is never easy.

Each student is different, each class is different from all the rest. No matter who’s in our classroom on any given day, the ultimate goal is that those students learn the concepts. We try to be as prepared as possible when creating lesson plans, but, more importantly, we realize we need to be flexible and allow our kids to absorb the material in their own way.

Some students absorb an advanced concept and use it to make a simple project within an hour and then move on to the next topic. Other students take multiple days to apply the same concept, but during that time, they produce a complex project that takes their understanding to the next level.

We are there to help them develop their full potential but along the way, we learn much from them.  Students are very shrewd and they see through many of the defensive walls we erect around ourselves.  Classroom discussions and banter or chats in the office can be very enlightening and enable us to identify the traits most students value in us.

Robotic Dinosaur Firing Lasers by Clayton, 7th Grade

3. Collaboration leads to success.

Collaboration is important, but it’s a skill – a valuable skill that needs to be taught. Working cooperatively is imperative to both team and individual success because if one part quits or does not perform well, everyone fails.

In other words, working together benefits everyone.

Like all skills, collaboration must be practiced and honed, so we try to provide an opportunity for children to work together with other children to learn how to collaborate. When working in teams, students outline projects that they want to pursue and split up work in a way that’s fair to everyone. Things don’t always go smoothly, but we’ve seen our students get better at this process week by week.

Sometimes the students are the best teachers

Teaching is a two-way road – it’s about teaching and learning at the same time. Even though it’s one of the most challenging and underrated professions out there it’s also one of the most rewarding. There’s so much you can learn from trying to teach a room full of young minds, and the list above is a sneak peek into the long and evergrowing list of wisdom we learn from our kids.

We’re grateful that we get to work with students who are focused, passionate, and eager to learn. Our team never ceases to be impressed by the amazing projects they produce — especially considering they’re using the same tools as beginning college students.

We hope our students know that even though we’re their teachers, we learn just as much from them as we hope they learn from us. They push us, day after day,  year after year, to make sure we give them the best possible educational experience we can. They’ve taught us that if you embrace the opportunity, you can learn a lot from the experience.

That’s a lesson we’ll never forget.