In industry demos I have worked on over the years the people who enter code as part of a demo, usually with someone else explaining what they are doing, are referred to as “code monkeys.” It’s all in fun and taken with humor. This year one of the things I am working on is putting more students hands on and taking an active part in demonstrations of code. I know that most good teachers do stuff like this but I’ve had trouble giving up control of the keyboard. Embarrassing to admit.
I know that I need to get away from being the boring voice in the front of the room. So having students do more “board work” is a step in the right direction.These students are sort of like code monkeys except that there is more interaction between them and me. So far having students do the work seems to be getting students more focused. So I’m happy. Why didn’t I do this years earlier?
I have instituted one primary rule – anyone who makes fun of or gives the student doing the demo a hard time has to replace that student. It seems to cut down on teasing and makes the student in the demo a bit more comfortable. Interestingly enough it seems to encourage other students, not just the demo student, to call out peers for unsupportive behavior. Since a mutually supportive environment is one of my goals this may help there as well.
One other thing I have done is to let the demo student call on others when I want an answer from the audience. They find that empowering and as it turns out they are better about spreading the questions out than I am.