After finishing my Master's I didn't want to pursue a PhD neither stay at home doing nothing. After taking chances applying to several data scientist and data analist positions and getting nowhere I was very disappointed. However, a thought about offering an introductory course about R programming was always around my head. With a little help from a good friend (and brother in Christ!) of mine I got a class and rented a room to bring this dream into reality. Today I had my last class with my students. I am just missing them already haha!
Well, besides getting money and getting a little confident about teaching, I got something very precious! Experience! Giving R classes made me think a little different from just a user's point of view:
1. Four classes of 2h each is not enough to take care of some of the most basic concepts in R for first-time users. You have to let students take a little time between one concept and the other. The concept of functions was a little difficult for them to understand and the overwhelming amount of functions was very hard to digest and remember. Even with a lot of exercises and reviews.
2. The motivation is a valuable resource. I tried to begin my course with lots of motivational examples like plots that I made, applications of R in several different areas, etc... However, the second and third classes were not like that, in fact, they were filled with functions and operations, how they worked and their usefulness. When we reached the last class, I detected some students worried about how they would use R with real data, how they could work with data originated from Excel and why I was so convinced that R was better than Excel...
3. Small classes are a good deal. In this first class I had just 5 students. I was able to give attention to every one of them. I was available to help by whatsapp and the better part: I got to know them more deeply.
4. A confortable place is a very good thing. God blessed me with a really nice place that offered coffee, clean bathroom, a cozy ambient (with good background music) and all the educational resources I needed (even when it was about simple HDMI/VGA adaptors). And all that for the best price I found in my hometown.
5. An important part is to adapt your demonstration examples with data that is related to what your students are used with. My students were all biologists like me. Biology is a tree with lots and lots of different branches, so it was a little difficult for a molecular biologist like me to give examples related to botany and neurosciences. Nevertheless it was very good to remember some of that while I studied to make classes more familiar to my students!
6. To produce your own material is an expendable endeavour, but as I was very pleased to produce it, time just went away very fast. In the end, I was very surprised about how I could produce fresh and good educational material that may even become a book in the future.
Finally, I am just grateful to God for it was a very, very, very good experience and I am really happy to help people improve their abilities with something that I like to work with so much. More in love with R than ever! haha