🇬🇧British Expat 🇨🇦Vancouver ❤ Gardening 💰Founder of gitSQL

Category: Teaching



I wanted to get into teaching and found work at VanArts – a stones throw away from my day job.

I asked my manager if I could take up teaching 3 hours per week to support my personal development as Lead Engineering @ PAI Health.

My manager said yes, so long as I keep up with my commitments. #bestbossever!

12 weeks later I finished the course and learned A LOT about myself.

Things I had to work on

Talking too fast

Students gave me feedback early on that I talked too fast. This was a combination of being British born and excitable! To remedy this I learned how to break down my lectures and pause more often. Adding photos/discussion points/memes into the slide deck also gave me cue to pause for interaction.

When I learned to ride a motorcycle, I was told about a concept called brain fart! – Around 20 minutes of focussed riding can result in the brain disengaging for a brief period.

I was taught to vary speed, posture, position to mitigate a brain fart at high speed!

Focus capacity

Talking too quietly

My students told me that It was really easy to hear me close up during tutorial work but during the lectures my voice would quiet at times. I was softly spoken. I had to watch youtube videos and then practice how to project my voice, vary tone and use simpler vocabulary (To cater for the diversity of the student group). Some students were english second language.

Things I excelled at

Story telling (Context and real world use cases)

My students told me that they understood what they were learning and more importantly – how they could use their learnings in real scenarios for real projects. 20+ years in industry of war stories really helped here.

Teaching back

I’m a strong believer that everyone has their own learning styles and capacities but the best way to validate learnings is to teach it back.

At age 15 – I read Quantum Learning by Bobbi Deporter. Renowned author and founder of super camp USA.

Quantum Learning – Bobbi Deporter


As a teenager I relearned how to learn and followed through practically throughout my professional career.

In teaching, I used the strategies in the book to get the students to teach me what they had learned.

Teach backs were varied, with showing me code/design/demo? Talking through why, what and challenges.
Self reflection on what went well and what they wanted help with.

The group teach backs also gave other students a chance to validate their own learnings through watching their peers present.

I discovered deficiencies early and filled gaps in knowledge at an individual level.

Teaching continued…

Through the love of teaching (and being asked back by VanArts) I taught Mobile App Development and Advanced Front-end Frameworks on Saturdays.

Welcomed by a new group of students; I had a chance to flex my learnings and do a better job. Overall the feedback was great, but something new came up!


We had a session on React and Redux with a lot of copy and pasting of code fragments. It was something I had rehearsed myself and thought it was OK but then on the day the pace was too quick for the students.

No battle plan survives first contact…

Moltke the Elder

During the class I got the students through the material and then promised to break down redux in the next session.

I then produced a set of slides that showed all the building blocks of redux but using an insurance company as a real world example of data flow. (Prior to this I had used a todo app – which was far too trivial to conceptualize redux flow). The new material was a success!

The session was slower paced, cross referencing with what we had done practically in the previous week and interactive this time with questions and hypothetical reasoning.

During the session I asked students to explain the redux flow and in their own words between them they were able to eloquently articulate back how things work.

There were still gaps in learning which I reassured them would come in practice. There is only so much we can absorb in one sitting.

Later – all students passed with high scores on their React projects!

More Teaching?

I was offered an opportunity to teach Advanced Front-end frameworks again to a new group of students. At the time of writing this blog we were into our 2nd week.

Every session I am learning new ways of teaching not only subject matter – but more importantly;

How to become life long learners with reduced or zero imposter syndrome.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash


Industry Judge @ UBC – Industry Skills in Academia

Hey Anup! Can you come judge some student projects at UBC?

Teaching Assistant @ UBC

I was asked to come judge student projects at UBC, by my colleague who was a teaching assistant at the school.

I felt honoured to have been asked!

Alongside 2 other judges, I evaluated the project presentations against the following rubric:

1. Project demo is smooth, informative, succinct, and impressive.
2. Project is complete, well-rounded, and displays a strong grasp of the tech in a full-stack web app.
3. Group is able to intelligently answer questions about tech and design decisions.

It was great interacting with the students; they had put so much time into their projects.

Some of them were very impressive and had business potential for market fit and profitability; In other words, knowing how to make money from what they had built.

After the event I left the following feedback.

As a Lead Engineer, I look for personalities that promote healthy working relationships and I value that over skills.

I feel that coding standards can be learnt on the job and architecture/design can only really be learned through experience.

For me, a student that demonstrates an appetite for life long learning would usually be more valuable than say a student that knew a tech stack inside out (Unless that was the business requirement for the vacancy).

Usually though, a Co-op that has the flexibility to pivot from what they have learned to learning something new is the first break in process I have found in the past.

If they can make it through that without too much turbulence then we are usually in good standing to make a progressive future.

Anup Saund 2019

The teachers gave me the following feedback…

Anup, thank you so much for sharing your insight! I was wondering if I could share one of your paragraphs with the students. From “As a Lead Engineer,..” to “…make a progressive future.” I think it would be so inspiring for the students to hear that! Especially since this course has a huge focus on non-technical skills.

UBC teachers

Round up

Once upon a time, I had help and support from leaders in Industry helping me become a well rounded, collaborative, individual contributor in society.

I felt honoured to be in a position to pay back that kindness to the next generations. One day in the future these fine UBC students will be building systems for us and our own children! That has to be a worthwhile investment.

Thank you University of British Columbia and all the teachers and non faculty staff working hard each and every day to support our future.

Event: https://www.cs.ubc.ca/event/2019/08/web-design-project-showcase-ubc-cpsc-436i

Showcase: http://cpsc436i.herokuapp.com/

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

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