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Cover image for Help a teacher. Become a better developer.

Help a teacher. Become a better developer.

Álvaro Montoro
Originally published at alvaromontoro.com ・2 min read

Teachers play a key role in our communities. They sacrifice their time, their money, and much more for their students. And, more often than not, their efforts are not as recognized and appreciated as they deserve.

While fixing this situation requires systemic changes, there are some ways in which software developers can help. And in the end, it can be a mutually beneficial collaboration.

I often talk to teachers (my wife is one), and most have great ideas for apps and games for their classrooms. But unfortunately, many don't have the resources available or the technical practice to turn them into reality. And that's where developers need to step up.

We can help them. And teaming up with teachers is a win-win:

  • Teachers will get valuable assets for their classrooms that will help them present lessons in innovative ways.
  • Developers will earn experience developing real-life projects, working with clients, and testing new technologies.

These collaborations are not fully altruistic. Apart from being rewarding, developers will benefit from the exchange: experience, demos, a portfolio... all while helping a greater cause.

The apps that teachers require are a nice break from the work routine or the school projects. They spark creativity and encourage research and learning. Teachers don't need to-do lists, tic-tac-toes, or Netflix clones that no one will ever see. Instead, they need something practical that dozens of students will use.

The projects may be simple, but they are perfect for developers of all levels (especially for beginners). And there's always the satisfaction of knowing that your work is being utilized and that there are people that find it extremely helpful.

Over the years and alongside my wife, we have developed many apps and mini-games for her Spanish classes. Some examples are:

  • An 8-ball with personalized expressions.
  • A webpage for students to practice verb conjugations.
  • An app to reorder and complete sentences.
  • A fill-in-the-gaps using songs and videos.
  • A virtual assistant that listens to the students and answers questions.

Each of them helped me learn/practice new things: randomization, multimedia integration, third-party and Web APIs, drag-and-drop, etc., along with the core concepts of programming: loops, conditionals, data structures, events, asynchronous functions... Plus, they were fun to develop.

Cartoon version of Frida Kahlo

Frida is a virtual teacher assistant that helps during Spanish class. It was
developed in vanilla JavaScript using Web APIs and basic control structures.
 

These are apps that require similar skills as the classic learning projects but have a cool edge that will impress friends, colleagues, and even recruiters.

So, next time you sit down in front of your computer, thinking What should I build next?, don't look at the same old threads with the same old dull learning project ideas. Reach out to a teacher friend! Ask them what they need. They’ll give you ideas.

Teachers inspire students daily, and they can be a great source of inspiration for developers too.

Discussion (2)

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ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Thank you for this post, @alvaro_montoro ! The beauty of programming is that it can help build a better world for everyone, not just other programmers.

I think it's also too easy to fall into a trap of thinking that tech in the classroom is for tech-related subjects, when truly, we live in a world that is so immersed in tech that there should be apps for all subjects all the time.

Teachers are often using analogue resources for teaching that could be a fun project for devs of any stage in their career. I second this motion!

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mccurcio profile image
Matt C

What a great project idea! Very cool.

I was a teacher for 10 yrs. When I taught, I saw that useful math and science was not taught enough or properly. I brought Scratch into one class for a kids demo while other teachers said out loud disdainfully, 'You want to make them programmers?' As if programming had no relevancy to learning math and science concepts. Some teachers I met simply felt computers and ipads were just glorified game consoles.

Very commonly, I met parents that harbored bad feelings themselves toward school. I worked in inner-city school districts were a large majority were underprivileged. I remember hearing from parents (that would rarely visit) that being 'back in school' gave them the creeps or worse... I believe it is common many parents (in certain neighborhoods) resent a system that was not so beneficial or friendly to themselves growing up.

Gets off the soap box. ;)

So, KUDOS to you and your wife for promoting math and science in schools.