The quarter started a week ago, and I’m back teaching the first Python programming classes which I haven’t done in a year. I’m doing both the first class for novices and the first class for people with some programming experience who aren’t yet ready for data structures. I’m particularly excited about this quarter because my students seem so great. They’re already interacting well with me and with each other, which has me looking forward to how things will progress.

As is typical for these classes, some of the students appear to have problems with confidence. In a particularly obvious case, I had a student in the accelerated course come with me to my office after the first class. He was questioning whether he should be in the accelerated course or whether he should move into the course for novices. When I asked him about his background he said he had taken AP CS as a sophomore in high school and earned a B. When I asked if he had taken the AP exam he said no because he didn’t think that he had learned enough and was afraid that if he passed the exam he might move into courses he wasn’t ready for. After some more conversation I diagnosed him with a confidence problem and told him that. He didn’t disagree. I’m happy to say that he’s still in the accelerated course.

In both courses we use Python Tutor for visualization, so I was particularly happy when I came across Philip Guo’s essay on silent technical privilege today. It talks about a lot of things I’ve both experienced first-hand and also seen happen with others. So I shared the essay with my students today, noting that the person who developed the visualization tool we’ll use wrote it. I suspect it’ll mean more to them coming from someone other than me.