How are we looking for online course teachers among developers?
“Successful teachers are those who choose this lesson for pleasure.”
If you had a thought, and if you did not go to the teachers, then you probably thought about whether you have the necessary skills, skills and inclination for this. And how do you offer your teacher services to the world in general, if you are well versed in your IT profession, but do not have teacher education? Lyudmila Karamysheva, head of the department for the selection of teachers and methodologists of GeekBrains, breaks the covers and tells how we are looking for teachers for our IT courses, how to become a popular teacher and why not all developers do it.
What candidates are we looking for?
It is important for us that teachers in GeekBrains are experienced developers, are able to easily explain the material and have good oratorical qualities.
This is a complex request - in fact, we need to find a superman who would simultaneously be a sociable extrovert and a typical introvert programmer. But we find them, teachers who stay with us love working with machines and people.
The first thing we assess when selecting candidates is the experience of real development (it must be at least three years). We look, in what companies the person worked, we check quality of its code in the projects which are laid out in GitHub.
Sometimes we make an exception for young professionals who have interesting completed projects and a great desire to teach. If the candidate has little experience, but he is a good developer and speaker, we give him tests on the knowledge of the main languages or technologies that he wants to teach. If he confirms his knowledge in testing and other stages of selection, we are ready to entrust him with teaching the course “Fundamentals of Programming” or other initial courses in various programming languages.
How do we select teachers?
Candidates go through several stages of selection:
- Resume analysis and HR interview . We check resumes, collect information about the teacher (about his experience and motivation), our security service also conducts its check. During a Skype or telephone interview, we clarify which technology stack a specialist uses, in which areas he feels more confident and that he loves most of all. This last question is very important. For example, some fullstack-developers do not like to typeset and frankly say that they are not ready to teach HTML and CSS. Such details are important to find out at the first stage.
- Trial video . We ask the candidate to record a video about himself: to tell about his work experience, his programming language from the point of view of the paradigm of this language, about its strengths and the reasons for which it is necessary to learn this language. Then a person comes up with a task either for a cycle or for a function, and describes the cycle in this language. So we test his knowledge of the subject and oratorical skills. Deadline to record such a video - 3 days.
- Test webinar on the training platform . The candidate conducts a trial lesson on a topic that we choose and agree upon. We give time to prepare, the opportunity to talk with our methodologist. So the candidate can assess whether he will cope with such work, and we determine whether he is suitable for us as a teacher. After the trial webinar, we collect feedback from the methodologist, students, and the teacher himself. Further work can be offered only when all three parties are satisfied with each other.
If we have any doubts about the candidate’s professionalism, we invite him to pass a language test, which he plans to teach our students. The test can be passed on our platform, and by points we immediately see the level of preparation of the candidate. Deadline - 8 hours per test.
If the candidate successfully passes all these stages, we conclude a contract with him. As such, we do not have a trial period, and the teacher immediately starts work. But we watch very closely the way he teaches during his first flow. If a person poorly spent his first flow, then he will not be able to work with us. But among the 200 active teachers there were only a few cases when novices could not cope.
Can candidates without higher education become teachers?
Among our teachers there were no specialists without higher education. But I had a positive experience in communicating with candidates for other positions who independently figured out their subject, learned everything in the process of work and self-education. I personally hired several excellent IT-specialists who had only secondary technical education.
I believe that the lack of a diploma is not a reason to refuse work to qualified specialists. Someone did not have enough money for higher education, someone went into the army, and learned programming later, the situation may be different. During the interview we will, of course, ask why a person has not received a diploma, but his absence will hardly affect something if we have a good specialist. It does not matter whether the developer of the university has graduated, if he is good at kodit, he has great projects and manager reviews.
And vice versa, if a person received an excellent technical education at a famous university, but poorly distinguished himself from a previous employer, he does not suit us.
I see that young professionals have quite a few stereotypes about working in large companies. Remember that the main selection criterion is what you can do in your field and whether you like what you are doing.
Where do we find our best teachers?
We are looking for potential candidates at different sites: professional Habr and Stackoverflow, traditional HeadHunter, LinkedIn and My Circle, looking for Mail.Ru Group employees, paying attention to interesting speakers at IT conferences, and authors of webinars on YouTube.
Most often, our candidates do not call themselves “teachers” in the resume, and some do not even think about such work for themselves. We carefully inspect the resume and draw attention to the developers who have had experience in public speaking or tutoring. They can speak at specialized conferences, publish articles on Habré, teach someone from their friends, but they do it at the level of a hobby. And when we offer to try yourself as a teacher, it turns out that this occupation really fascinates them, and they discover new talents in themselves besides development.
For example, it was with Alexei Kadochnikov. He is now a well-known teacher at GeekBrains: crowds are recorded for his HTML and CSS courses, students give him the highest marks (we ask students to rate the work of teachers after the courses) and leave excellent reviews. Alexey is actively writing articles, continues to invent new webinars and is truly fascinated by these activities. A few years ago, I saw his resume on HeadHunter, analyzed and concluded that a person has good experience in development and may be interested in cooperation with a large company from Moscow. It turned out that he had long wanted to have such additional work from home, he liked the teaching process itself and had previously successfully taught his colleagues and spouse the basics of web programming.
Experienced teachers also work with us. For example, our teacher and Ruby methodologist Igor Simdyanov. He wrote books known to PHP developers: “PHP7 Tutorial”, “Object-Oriented Programming in PHP”, “Puzzles in PHP for a hacker” and others. Igor is immersed in science, and most of the time he is developing Ruby. When selecting for our vacancy, it turned out that he likes to teach and considers this occupation his hobby. Now he is writing an online Ruby course for us.
What difficulties do teachers have online courses?
Many find it difficult if they do not receive feedback from students. It is especially unusual for those who previously conducted lessons in a regular classroom, used to monitor the audience’s reaction, to respond promptly to questions during the lesson. There is no such contact with students during the webinar. You can communicate with them only when they write questions in the chat or discuss their homework after the lesson.
But such difficulties pass quickly with practice. Teachers become accustomed to the role of a remote tutor and begin to understand all the advantages of the webinar: you do not need to go to the lesson to the other end of the city, you don’t need to rush during the lesson, you save a lot of effort and energy for the teaching process itself.
Another difficult moment is the certification of teachers, which we take seriously. We ask to pass it to those who have not previously conducted training webinars. During certification, these teachers need to conduct a test webinar on our platform, and after it to talk with students. Not everyone copes with this task.
Often, candidates make mistakes related precisely to the manner of teaching - a dry language of presentation, a lot of theory, but no examples from practice. We want the teacher to be able not only to explain the theory clearly, but also to motivate students for further studies.
Of course, this can be learned. If a person is ready for this and he has the potential, we give our recommendations and instructions, show how this should ideally be. But if a person failed for the second or third time, one has to part with it.
No matter how cool a developer is, if he doesn’t know how to properly express his thoughts and find contact with students, they will simply leave his course.
How do employers from large companies relate to what their developers teach at GeekBrains?
Our teachers often work in leading positions in large IT companies. But employment in GeekBrains does not interfere with their main work, because webinars are held in the evening.
Personally, I have a positive attitude to the fact that the Mail.Ru Group employees find such a part-time job for themselves and do it in their spare time. It is wonderful that the employee develops in such a way that he is in demand as a teacher. Of course, if webinars are held during business hours, this should be coordinated with the manager - everyone has different schedules.
I have never heard that our teachers have any conflicts with the main work. As a rule, at 20.00, programmers finish work and can hold a webinar (most of them take place in the evening).
How do they become "stars"?
According to my observations, those teachers who first of all choose this occupation for pleasure are really successful and in demand: not for money, not for their own PR, not for the sake of tick in the resume. They get high, like Alexei Kadochnikov, even on the phone he could hear how happy he was at the opportunity to teach.
This is a tough job. A teacher of online courses needs to spend much more effort to keep the attention of the audience. Somewhere a joke is appropriate, somewhere an interesting question that will help involve students in the learning process. On webinars you can only be heard and follow the demonstration screen. It is clear that the slides will also help in something, but it is the manner of teaching that primarily affects whether students listen to a lecture or not.
At the lesson there can be from 20 to 50 students, they can answer the teacher's questions and ask their questions in the chat. Stop and ask if everything is clear, bring some stories from life, from your practice, find analogies that are clear to students - our best teachers never forget about these important details. In addition, they are constantly in touch with their students, ready to additionally explain something to them after class and to analyze homework in detail. All this takes a lot of energy, and you can do this evening after your main job only if you really like it.
Where to begin?
I will answer, based on my experience, - recently I have been teaching several courses on GeekBrains on how developers can effectively search for work. Before that, I had no experience in conducting online lessons - only lectures in universities. And it was really scary to start.
It was a different experience: I didn’t see people in front of me and constantly asked again if I could be heard. Only the work on the webinars helped to overcome this fear. Until you try, you do not know whether it suits you or not.
Perhaps your first webinar will not be the most successful. But in the third, the skill is already beginning to be honed - it will only be possible to pump it through training.
For this I advise you to record training videos for Youtube. If you can make a good video, you can attach it to your resume.
If you want to try yourself as a teacher of our courses, send your resume or respond to our teacher vacancies and methodologists at HeadHunter .