Teaching is learning: A teacher’s journey into code

Peter’s picking up new skills to take into retirement.

Enspiral Dev Academy trains beginners into work-ready junior developers through 5-15 weeks of remote study and a 9 week intensive in-class bootcamp in Auckland or Wellington, New Zealand.

Peter (centre) and team work on their final group project at Dev Academy

Peter Sim is a schoolteacher in his 60s. He’s taken on the challenge of completely upskilling in order to gain high quality web development work to take him into his retirement. Peter spoke to us about Dev Academy.

“My ancestors came to Wellington in 1841. That’s when the first tranche of ships started turning up. They settled in Johnsonville. My great-great-great grandfather, James Sim, was the one who brought the family out from Scotland.”

“I’ve been a secondary school teacher in New Zealand since 1981. I was originally a chemistry and a science teacher, but when I was training computers and personal computers were just starting to emerge, the Apple 2, the TRS80, the Commodore Pet, those sort of things. This revolution prompted me to do some Stage 1 computing papers to finish my degree. So I was right on the cusp, you might say. For some of those papers it was punchcards and Fortran and things like that. So I’ve always had that interest, all the way through.”

“I came down to Kamo College in Whangarei, and I was there for about 17 years. I was originally employed there as a chemistry and science teacher, but it was recognised that I had a pretty strong interest in computing, so I was given a couple of computing classes as well. And it just so happened that the person who was running all the computing left before the person who running all the chemistry. So I took over.”

“Students would say — ‘Well why not? Why aren’t you doing that?’”

”I then worked as an ICT facilitator in Auckland for a few years, and for the last 6 years I’ve been at Bream Bay College in Ruakaka. And obviously when you’re approaching your 60s you start thinking about retirement.”

“For the last few years I’ve been teaching Digital Technologies, and in order to encourage students, one of the things I would say is, ‘If you find that you like doing this stuff, there will be well-paid jobs for you.’ They’d say, ‘How well-paid?’, and you’d sort of pluck figures like ‘$100,000 — more than what I’m earning.’ And the students would say — ‘Well why not? Why aren’t you doing that?’”

“So I’ve been teaching web development with students at school, but obviously at a fairly low level, largely HTML and CSS, and just static pages. But it really empowers people. Anyhow, one of the things I’ve always wondered is, wouldn’t it be good if I could actually experience what it meant to be a developer, and possibly get some remote work. I do have people from time to time asking me to do work for them, create websites and so on.”

“So really the thing that’s brought me here is, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I want to see if my skills are sufficient.”

“I don’t know what I don’t know, and part of me being here has been to try and figure out the things that I need to know in order to be able to work at a high enough level. And all the frontend / backend stuff — you don’t really have to know much of that in school, not to the same level and depth. So that’s been a lot of learning.”

“So really the thing that’s brought me here is, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I want to see if my skills are sufficient.”

“I do appreciate that I’m going to need some sort of portfolio and some kind of work experience, and I think people coming into this need to understand that this is not the kind of job where you train once, and do it. You’ve got to keep working on the technologies, because even here on the bootcamp, if I find something from 2 or 3 years ago, it’s all out of date now. So the pace of change is really quite dramatic, and if you don’t stay on top of it, if you’re not constantly trying to master new things, then I don’t think you can be successful.”

“The cohort and the teacher at Dev Academy have been absolutely amazing. They’ll give anything a go, nothing is too hard. I was talking to some friends last night about our group projects, and they said, “Well in groups you always get slackers.” But here you don’t. Everybody has really put in to be where they are, and so you have to work damned hard — there are no passengers in the groups here. And Don, our teacher, his depth of knowledge and experience, it just shines through every day.”

“The cohort and the teacher at Dev Academy have been absolutely amazing… Don, our teacher, his depth of knowledge and experience, it just shines through every day.”

“Dev Academy brought in some speakers from Xero yesterday, and one of the questions that we asked was, “What’s your favourite part of your job.” The answer was, “Solving problems, coding, getting something to work.” The fact that you can create an idea in your head and then turn it into fruition, that’s what really appeals to me about this. Being able to make it all happen.”

For Peter’s final project, his group are making an app for cryptocurrency arbitrage happen. The app, DeltΔge, identifies the changes in currency fluctuations so traders can exploit them. Peter explains, “ DeltΔge combines delta with arbitrage, which means buying and selling commodities. Delta (Δ) is a symbol for change, and Deltage is Danish for take part.”

The Deltage team

Peter’s taking part in the technology change — and you can too. If you’d like to begin your journey into technology and be a part of changing the future, apply now for Dev Academy.