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Six Months in - Reflections on Teaching at Ada

​​​​​​​David Kaye

Roughly 6 months ago I started my first day teaching maths at Ada. Since then I’ve been on an exciting and at times challenging journey. Now that I’m half a year in I’ve had a chance to reflect on what I’ve experienced and why teaching here has been such an extraordinary experience.

Collaboration and creativity

In the very first maths lesson I taught in September, I was coding along with year 13 students, discovering more about function theory and how it related to programming. At Ada, every student studies computer science, and this has allowed me to link learning in maths to coding as well as allowing me use industry-standard tools like Jupyter notebooks in statistics lessons. More importantly though, the Ada approach to teaching focuses on deep learning and is driven by a desire to develop students into independently-thinking technology pioneers, with the practical experience and intellectual curiosity to succeed. Some of my favourite lessons have involved students collaboratively solving rich problems on whiteboards. In one recent lesson students took a short prompt involving a line drawn from a pentagon and used this to find values for a series of angles, resulting in some surprising identities. Throughout the entire lesson students engaged in mathematical thought and discussion, and challenged themselves to overcome difficulties by thinking creatively.

Computer science solutions

In addition to maths, I have also been fortunate to teach some computer science over the last six months at Ada. The creative and challenging approach to learning extends to these lessons as well. One of the highlights for me has been overseeing a group of year 12 students developing their own video games in Javascript. More recently I’ve been working with students on a cybersecurity module in which they are learning about the theory of data security and encryption, but also enacting practical solutions to protect an organisation from attack.

Bank of America Project

An extremely important part of Ada’s approach to learning is industry involvement. This term I was privileged to be a co-organiser of an industry project with one of our partners, Bank of America. On the day of the project launch, 12 employees from Bank of America came to Ada to brief our students on the project and share their expertise. Students then spent the next three days in small teams undertaking research and data analysis to create an infographic exposing a health, economic or social problem in London. This all culminated in a visit by students to Bank of America headquarters where they pitched to a panel of judges, trying to persuade them to invest in solutions to the problems they identified. Ada’s industry projects are designed to provide an authentic model of working in the tech sector, with small teams, tight deadlines and real outcomes to deliver - something few students would have experience of otherwise. Watching students go through the highs and lows of this difficult challenge made me realise how important this industry involvement really is.

Ada is more than just a place with fantastic academic and industry-driven learning. Over the last six months, I’ve been welcomed into a community of dedicated and diverse people who are committed to improving education, the tech sector, and the wider world. This especially includes the amazing students here: hardly a week goes by without hearing about something incredible one of our students has done, whether this is teaching primary school students computing, speaking publicly about diversity and inclusion, or collecting donations for a food bank.

Altogether it’s been an exhilarating and rewarding first six months teaching at Ada, and the space of this blog post is not nearly enough to detail everything that’s happened. I’m excited to see what the rest of this year holds, and looking forward to many future years.

Tagged  Sixth Form