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It Wasn’t About Computer Programming

When I was in high school, I was lucky enough to have a teacher whose teaching style made learning so fun and engaging that he inspired me to pursue my own career in education.

Mr. Pecucci was my computer programming teacher my sophomore year, and for the first time in my life as a student, I never wanted to miss school (or at least, not until after second period computer programming). It wasn’t the class content, it was the fun and positive class experience Mr. Pecucci created. I was excited to learn, and I was excited to come to class, every single day.

Mr. Pecucci had an upbeat and engaging teaching style. I vividly remember the motivational quotes he shared with us at the start of the week. These helped make Mondays less rough. He made everyone clap for their peers if they completed a task in an extraordinary way or answered a question in a way he hadn’t thought of. The class felt like home, and I was there with friends who started to feel like family. Pecucci was teaching us computer programming, but we were also learning how to work together and build resilience.

Teamwork was essential in Pecucci’s class. He had a great way of teaching us the basics, and then leaving the hands-on material for group work. He’d chime in when he needed to, which wasn’t often on some days and on others, every five minutes. He wasn’t robotic, he could take the temperature of the room and adjust. Oddly, Pecucci’s criticism didn’t make me slam my head against the wall. Rather, the “culture” he’d created made me work harder. He made sure our goals were hard yet attainable, and that we were capable of succeeding.

Mr. Pecucci was good at relinquishing control sometimes and letting our imaginations run wild with our projects — as long as the work was completed. I remember we had to create our own video game as an assignment. He taught us the basics: creating sprites, getting them to move, creating functions, etc. Then he told us to run wild and make our own game, for a grade. There were no restrictions: as long as we displayed mastery of the program we used and met (or exceeded) expectations, we could make whatever we wanted. That whole week the class was loud with chatter, banter, and laughter. Students were in the classroom within the first minute of the prior class ending, which unless you were in an AP class, was unheard of. I made a game involving characters from the TV show “Metalocalypse” battling random celebrities I disliked. By the time I submitted the assignment, I was frustrated, yet satisfied. I got an “A,” but I would’ve been happy with just about anything because I was proud of my work. It ranks among one of the best assignments I was ever assigned in high school.

Mr. Pecucci worked with your character, rather than against it. We continue to stay in touch: he often chimes in on my achievements and accomplishments. But what I really hope is that he inspired me. I’ll attempt to mimic some of his methods when I’m ready to take on my own classroom.
Guest Post By: Shabbir Manjee
Teacher Advocate @ Kiddom
Aspiring Teacher