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Meet Our 2020 Boot Camp Instructor Excellence Award Winner: John Desrosiers

Written by Molly Forman on Dec 21, 2020

Related content: Outcomes, Digital Education

At 2U, instructors are an essential component of the boot camps we power. They are inspiring individuals who want to positively impact learner’s lives by sharing their knowledge and expertise. They see teaching as an investment in the future, and they thrive in a learning ecosystem where they are equipping students with the digital skills they need to establish life-changing careers. And this year, they went above and beyond the call of duty, adapting in real-time to a pandemic that transformed the way they taught and engaged with students. It’s for these reasons and more that boot camp instructors deserve to be celebrated, which is why we launched our 2020 Boot Camp Instructor Excellence Awards.

This year’s recipient was John Desrosiers, a full stack flex instructor at University of California, San Diego recognized for his perfect NPS scores of 100 in both the instructor and overall categories and his equally impressive scores in weekly instructor-based KPIs for clarity, engagement, and knowledge.

The ratings align with the outstanding accolades John received from his students this year.

“John is an amazing instructor who ensures that students get answers to questions they ask,” one student shared. “He keeps a fast pace and is sure that no student is left behind in confusion. He is very knowledgeable in regards to the material and connects concepts in various ways to ensure understanding across all learning styles.”

“I love how John takes a personal interest in everyone's learning,” said another student. “He is always ready to help and takes the time to make sure you can find the answer to your question.”

These positive sentiments don’t come as much of a surprise, especially when considering what John says gives him the deepest satisfaction in a learning setting.

“It’s when I get to see a student have the ‘ah-ha!’ moment after working on something they've been struggling with,” John said. “That has to be the sweetest part of being an instructor.”

To learn more about John and how he became the influential instructor he is today, read our interview below.

Prior to becoming a boot camp instructor, you enrolled as a student in the UC San Diego Extension Coding Boot Camp. What inspired you to pursue a boot camp, and what was it about that boot camp that prompted you to want to become an instructor?

Before enrolling in the boot camp, I was working as an office administrator for a large retail store. There really wasn't a way forward for me at that job outside of retail management, which I was not interested in. (Been there. Done that.) I had been programming off-and-on as a hobby, picking up a few languages over the years, and had a keen interest in the field. Around that same time, I chatted with a co-worker who was attending the part-time boot camp at UCSD, and it sounded like just the career change I was looking for. After several years of saving up to enroll in higher learning, it was time to go for it.

The boot camp experience gave me so much more than I was looking for. The struggle and the satisfaction that came from discovering I could learn much, much faster than I had thought I could was amazing! I started thinking about how much this immersive, boot camp style of education could completely disrupt so many traditional settings. I knew it was something I wanted to stay involved in. So, when the opportunity to be a TA came about as I was wrapping up the boot camp, I took it.

After working as a TA, interning (mostly backend NodeJS/MongoDB stuff), and tutoring boot camp students, I took on the role of a long term substitute instructor for the full-time boot camp I was supporting as a TA. It wasn't easy, but it went well. So when a position as a full-time instructor opened up, I once again went for it. And that brings me to where I am today.

Did you always know you wanted to be an instructor?

Throughout my life, I've been a teacher in some capacity. I started out as an older brother, then a math tutor in high school, an economics tutor in college, and a trainer in various jobs over the years. Then, when I was a student in the UC San Diego Extension Coding Boot Camp, I had such an incredible experience! I knew I wanted a chance to create an opportunity like I experienced for others.

You achieved a perfect Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 100 in both the instructor and overall categories for our Boot Camp Instructor Excellence Awards. NPS is a great indicator of satisfaction with the quality of the course, curriculum, and instruction. What do you attribute to your outstanding NPS scores?

The outstanding scores are the result of so many things coming together and, of course, having awesome students willing to work hard goes a long way. Spending enough time preparing for activities, homework, and lesson plans each day before class is important. (I have developed a few checklists.) This allows me to keep my focus on observing and engaging with students without awkward transitions or ‘gotchas.’ To sum things up, having a great team, great students, and staying on top of all the little details so that I can remain focused on students throughout class and office hours each day is what has produced these results.

Looking back at 2020, the year was anything but expected. How did you adapt to meet the needs of your students and offer an exemplary learning experience during a time of COVID?

Keeping a positive tone in class each day. Focusing on what students and I are able to do and let the rest take a back seat while we zeroed in on learning. Also, taking time to get the "temperature of the room" to adjust my intensity on a given day. And making liberal use of breakout rooms to give students more opportunity to connect with each other.

The recognition you received has “instructor excellence” in its title. What does “instructor excellence” mean to you?

It means putting students at the top of my priority list. It means carefully observing students to see what approaches receive the most engagement. It means pushing students to take risks and extend themselves to find new limits.

For any individuals considering teaching or enrolling in a boot camp, what’s one piece of advice that you would offer them?

The short time and massive list of topics in the syllabus require good organization and discipline.

Instructors: create a routine around preparation on the daily and weekly level so that you don't miss the details that add up to successfully leading the class through the material each day.

Learners: create a routine to review everything that is covered in class each day and keep the files on your computer well organized. And, don't take pre-work lightly. The pre-work is challenging for a complete beginner and incredibly important to success in the program.

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.