Emiko and I finished the basic project book that came with the Arduino. The problem was that she was good at following the diagrams but had no idea what was really happening and wouldn’t be able to do anything other than follow them. So I found Exploring Arduino which goes through similar projects but explains in detail the circuits and programs. The explanation of voltages, currents, resistance, etc. went ok, but then we got to the programming. She had a very difficult time putting into practice the concept of a variable. I tried every way I could to explain it, but she didn’t and each with each attempt my voice got louder and louder. She teared up and was clearly frustrated and while we got through the exercise it wasn’t the best session we had ever had.
The next morning I kept replaying the events and what I remember most was that I had turned something that she thought was interesting and fun into the exact opposite. I really didn’t want her to lose interest in something because I had turned her off. I texted Erin to have Emiko call me when she was awake. When she called I apologized and she forgave me. I told her how sorry I was and that I didn’t want my being a bad teacher to prevent her from having fun and learning.
Since then I’ve asked her what I can do to be a better teacher. We’ve also done more projects and learned some difficult circuit and programming concepts. I’m going a lot slower and I’m not so focused on her understanding everything. She’ll gain that as she gets more exposure and if we can keep having fun she’ll keep wanting that exposure.