Ceora Ford, Learner Advocate and egghead Instructor
Ceora is a digital marketer turned software engineer who enthusiastically and consistently engages with the development community. She began to learn to code in January 2019 and shared her learnings in a blogpost about mistakes she made in her first year learning to code. Her insights seemed like they'd be a solid basis for an interesting egghead talk, so we invited her to give one.
Ceora's egghead talk on Learning Tips Every Developer Should Know.
Being a Learner Advocate for egghead
When we were arranging the details for her talk, Ceora inquired about becoming a Learner Advocate at egghead. Learner Advocates are people that learn in public and are compensated to participate in workshops as well as write community notes for published courses to make it easier for everyone to learn. Ceora's already strong community involvement and blogging about her learnings were strong signals she'd be a great fit for the role.
Since becoming a Learner Advocate in April 2020, Ceora has created community notes for courses such as Advanced SQL for Professional Developers, Introduction to the Python 3 Programming Language, and Practical Git for Everyday Professional Use. The notes enhance the material and give learners another perspective that can help clarify the concepts even further.
"One way I love to do that is to incorporate illustrations and doodles and diagrams and things like that into the notes," says Ceora. "I have heard some people say, 'this makes it so much easier to understand.'"
When she attends workshops (where instructors road test the material for their courses), Ceora actively participates and asks questions to help facilitate discussion and help to make the other attendees feel comfortable to ask their own questions. She's also helped the instructors of some of those workshops play out what worked well and what could be improved from a learner's perspective.
Becoming an instructor and overcoming imposter syndrome
In just a couple months, it was clear Ceora thought deeply about the content and workshops and brought a great perspective on learning. That combined with her consistency in showing up and doing the work, her ability to explain concepts well, and her excellent collaboration skills led us to invite her to teach as an egghead instructor.
Ceora's biggest challenge to overcome has been imposter syndrome, which she says is particularly strong since she's still relatively early in her coding journey and is self-taught.
"I was so shocked," Ceora says about being invited to teach. "I always feel like I'm a beginner. There's still so much I don't know, so much I have to learn. How could I teach someone else?"
She's learning that she brings a valuable perspective and can use her experience to teach others what she knows. (She's mostly focusing on Python currently.)
Along with the encouragement she's received from people she's worked with at egghead, she said one particular incident helped her start to internalize that you can create educational content that others find helpful and valuable, even when you are relatively new to a technology .
"I remember a new technology came out and just a couple days later, two instructors learned enough to make a couple videos and publish them. In those two days, they learned enough to be able to teach someone else and it's totally valid. No one is looking at them like, 'Why would you do that? You're not an expert.'"
Ceora got right to work on her first lessons. Like so many people, she found the How to Record Badass Screencasts course helped improve her workflow. We also provided feedback and answered her questions to help her fine tune her content so that it's super clear and useful for learners.
The hardest part of recording is actually starting, says Ceora, which she overcomes by just opening the Terminal, hitting record, and just starting to talk.
"I try not to take it too seriously because if I stress about needing everything to just be pitch perfect, then it's going to intimidate me out of actually doing anything," she says. "So, I just hit record and I just talk, and then take care of all the little mess-ups that I have in editing."
Another thing Ceora says has helped her is being part of one of our first instructor cohorts, where we onboard instructors in small groups. We brought Ceora on as an instructor in our June 2020 cohort with Faraz Ahmad and Jhey Thompkins. Even though they've finished the onboarding process, the three of them have continued to give each other encouragement to keep moving and learning and even collaborate with each other.
"I thrive in groups, I thrive being a part of a community," says Ceora. "Having that, where I don't have to go at it alone, is just something I love. It's a huge source of support."
Ceora, Faraz and Jhey chat on Twitter about the creating egghead lessons.
Learning new skills, publishing her first lessons and pushing outside the comfort zone
Ceora says collaborating with egghead has helped her improve her teaching skills and become even better at explaining concepts in a simple way. In less than a month, she published her first two lessons on egghead!
Ceora has appreciated the push she's received to put out more content and overcome the imposter syndrome, despite how uncomfortable that can feel.
"Sometimes the fear of failure has stopped me from doing things because I don't want anybody to watch my video or read my article and say that it's bad," she says. "But because all my work at egghead is centered around content creation, I have to put it out there. I'm getting more used to being uncomfortable, to being in positions where I have to be vulnerable and open myself up to other people, which is really good."
She says both her learner advocate work and her work as an instructor has also given her a chance to see first-hand what productive and meaningful collaboration looks like, including getting her work critiqued and receiving constructive feedback on fixes she can make.
Even in just the first few months of collaborating with egghead, Ceora says she's received speaking opportunities and even leads for potential jobs at companies she's dreamed of working at. She's enjoying putting her energy into content creation and community efforts (including running #100DaysOfProjects on Twitter). She's driven to continue to help people who come from a self-taught background, who might not fit the typical model of a person in tech and might have a similar learning style as she does.
"Seeing the way you learn being represented in educational content is super important," she says. "I want people to look at me and be like, 'She did it, and she's thriving, so I obviously have a place in tech, too.' Even when I'm kind of tired and wonder should I even do this anymore, I always think about that person."
Ceora says one of the standout things about collaborating with egghead is the culture and the care that goes into creating a great experience for learners, learner advocates and instructors alike.
"It's really hard to find a company like this with people who genuinely care about other people and about building something that everybody involved has a good experience with," says Ceora.
"Some companies, the lower you are, the less they care, but it's definitely not like that at egghead. I feel like they give everyone an equal amount of respect and share in collaborating. I have a very strong moral compass. If I feel like someone's not being treated right, I can't be involved. I've never felt that with egghead. They want you to have a good experience and are always willing to improve, and it's very evident in the way that they treat you and the way that they act."