Erik Aybar

Learn Fast by Doing. Learn Faster by Teaching.

August 13, 2015

Image credit Luis Lierena

The Impact of Teaching and Mentoring

on my own Pursuit of Learning (and screencasting!)

I previously shared some experiences and thoughts relating to Investing in Yourself as a Software Developer (and why your employer should too). I talked a lot about the huge value that self-driven, online resources have provided me over the years. These have played a major role in my journey into entering the technology industry and professional growth.

I left out one huge piece of that story. I may have over-emphasized specifics, money, and employer responsibility. The core of what my experiences have taught me is more related to a general hunger for learning and growth.

More recently I have discovered tremendous value from teaching. Maybe teaching is too formal of a word. More like sharing and discussing knowledge with others. This can take many forms. A few forms of “teaching” that have impacted me:

I consistently find that when tasked with helping someone else understand something better, I always come out with a much better grasp of the topic.

So I’ve been having a blast recording Javascript tutorials/videos over at

One of my “Refactoring Javascript” lessons boiled down to a 0:02 GIF

!A preview of my first published video. Refactoring Javascript[](*g7i0sg57Q1qriVv5PJAUfA.gif) A preview of my first published video. Refactoring Javascript

How did I end up here? I’m sure the long version of that story will follow in posts to come. For now, I’ll rewind to just several months ago…

Maybe I Should Start Giving Some Back…

It was only a few months ago that I decided to take my first stab at recording a screencast. My only real goal with doing so was forcing myself out of my comfort zone and hoping that I could learn some things along the way. Considering how much I’ve taken away from others’ blog posts, screencasts, and tech talks, I felt like it was time to start putting a little bit back into the coffers. I secretly hoped that it could be of use to others.

It turns out recording a screencast is much harder than I had imagined. First you have to select, and stick to, a cohesive set of topics. Then juggling figuring out how to record, edit, and publish a screencast. It was a bit overwhelming at first.

My first **published** attempt at a screencast. My first published attempt at a screencast.

As with most things I set out to learn, I dove in and figured it out as I went. I started recording more screencasts. Some just for practice that never saw the light of day. Some made it onto Vimeo. Then I started publishing a few to YouTube. Needless to say, in retrospect my first several screencasts were low quality, lengthy, and overall just pretty terrible :). No matter the end result of these, I did find I was learning a lot through the process.

One surprisingly useful area I found myself recording screencasts in was the workplace. I work 100% remotely and our development team is primarily remote/distributed. I started recording short walk-throughs and/or tutorials of either new features completed or new technologies/techniques being introduced. How to write tests for new API endpoints with Behat, Setting up and Using Gulp, TDD w/ PHPUnit/PHPSpec, etc….

I quickly found that putting ~30 minutes into a fairly raw ~5 to ~10 minute video forced me to learn these topics on a much deeper level. These short videos helped to communicate concepts that were difficult to convey via textual chat or reproduce during a ScreenHero session. They also forced me to start distilling concepts down to ~5:00 videos, which is a lot more work than it might sound.

Fast forward 6 months or so and here I am as an instructor on

It has been an exciting opportunity and I have already learned a ton throughout the process. There are a lot of super smart developers involved as instructors who are a lot smarter than me. If I’m being 100% honest, it can be hard not to fall into imposter syndrome knowing that I am putting material up side-by-side with some of these guys. Which is not a bad thing at all.

If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room. If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.

I’m not sure where or when the first time I heard this quote was, but it has stuck with me since. Here are some thoughts on “Are You the Smartest Person in the Room?”. I feel like settling into your comfort zone and no longer feeling the need to improve is what leads to stagnation. This is especially important to succeed in the technology industry.

I have several videos/topics in the works and I look forward to continually learning by teaching (which I’m growing to appreciate more and more). And of course, I hope I can help others pick a thing or two up along the way.

Check out my small (but growing) list of lessons here: Feel free to drop me a line @erikthedev_ with any Javascript related topic requests!

Let me know if you enjoyed or hated this post, have any feedback, or even topic requests at @erikthedev_ or in the responses below!

Erik Aybar

👋🏽 Hi! I'm Erik Aybar. I'm a software person working remotely from St. George, Utah. This is my blog.