Teaching week - Learn what the dataschool learns

by Kolsuma Aktar

Two weeks ago DS13 had their teaching week, where we teach one topic in either Alteryx or Tableau to the public for about 1 hour to 1.5 hours each.

My topic was parameters and parameter actions for Tableau. The topics were decided quite a while back and we were hopeful that parameter actions would be released in an official tableau update but sadly it was still in beta so I only taught parameters.

Before teaching:

Coach Carl had taught us how to use parameters in Tableau during our training so I flipped through my notes from that day to build my introduction slides. Carl used a tableau workbook made by Ravi (a core consultant at The Information Lab) during his lesson on parameters. I rebuilt my own versions of the examples I wanted to use in my own workbook, and I thought I was ready to teach! I figured I would simply do the examples on the big screen and have the public follow along.

Although I had a plan for my lesson, I was still nervous about it, particularly regarding my ability to make sure all the different levels of knowledge in the room was adapted to. What if an example was too easy for some? But if I gave a more difficult example, what if it was too hard for others? How can I have two examples in one go? What if my mind blanked while teaching?

My mentor, Bethany (another core consultant at The Information Lab), reached out to me around this time and I took the time to let her know of my worries for teaching week. This was the best thing I could have done to help reduce all my worries. From this conversation, I realised having them follow along examples the whole time wouldn’t be the best way to help them remember the steps. I needed to create some exercises for them to try out, which I hastily did right after this meeting.

Lastly, I went to convo to find out what needed to be done in terms of logistics, such as nametags and setting up spare laptops, and split those tasks amongst ourselves.

During teaching:

Surprisingly, this part of teaching week went a lot better than I was expecting. I was teaching right before lunch and I feel like the attendees had enough time to get to know each other during the morning and there was a good vibe in the room with people asking questions during my lesson and interacting with my colleagues who were helping out during my lesson. I managed to get through all the examples I planned but the last exercise I gave them was a little rushed. Since I was ending at lunch I thought it would be best not to keep them longer so I rushed through the solution for the exercise and my mind blanked for the last part! I knew this would happen! It wasn’t extremely important for the solutions and it was more of an extra step, so I thought I’d just let everyone go for lunch at that point.

I should also add, that while my colleagues taught their sessions each of us stayed to help attendees that were stuck during any examples and exercises.

After teaching:

It was great chatting with some of the attendees and hearing how they use tableau currently and how they would use what they learned from us in the future, it makes teaching very rewarding. Hearing how impressed the attendees were about the quality of the teaching, I finally realised how far I had come in my 2 months at the dataschool thanks to the amazing training and the people around us. We also had a feedback session from Carl, which was invaluable. I hope to incorporate the feedback when I get the opportunity to teach next. I’ll be doing a webinar on parameters very soon so keep an eye out for my blog post on my experience.

Thanks for reading!


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