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Why teaching design was the hardest project I’ve done
18th December 2019

I’ve been teaching design – UX, UI and graphic – for 1,5 year on the side to my main freelancing job. And it has been very interesting experience indeed. But it wasn’t an easy one.

I was teaching grown up beginners the art of web design, which usually was a course of a month every day 8 to 5 or 1,5 month in the evenings every other day. The courses were focused on giving a strong background to the people who want to change their careers and work as designers in the current field.

The good

In the beginning, teaching was quite exciting. Especially first few courses. So I will start with benefits of teaching :

Learning myself

I know it’s cheesy, but you do learn a lot yourself. In my case it wasn’t about the subject I teach, but more about how to be better with people. I learned kindness, patience and leadership skills, how to motivate people, understanding people’s emotions and reacting to it, how to be more open about my skills. I am very thankful for this and I think this is a invaluable lesson I will carry trough life and adapt in my work.

Testing my knowledge

Teaching also gave me a moral boost. Especially when you work at home, and you have nothing to compare yourself to, you might think you are less than you actually are. A lot of my teaching techniques involved live critique and showing people how fix things on the spot, which proved me that I am capable to create awesome design under any circumstances.

I also realised that I know a lot, like A LOT. When people constantly ask you questions and you know the answers, it gives you a real self-esteem boost.

Public speaking

Even though I feel quite comfortable speaking in public, this gave me a chance to practice public speaking too. The first lesson with a new group is always a bit hard and shaky, but once you establish your position as a teacher (yes, there are always few nonbelievers in a group) and make a connection, everything becomes easier and more humane.

I also learned not to be afraid once in a while not be certain of things or not know the answer. Whenever someone asked me something I don’t know, I always said “I don’t know yet, but I am really good at googling things”. Worked as a charm every time (especially since I am good at googling).


And finally, probably the best part of all, was the appreciation. People were really thankful for all the effort that I’ve put in, all the patience and kindness (yeah, my friends wouldn’t say I’m patience and kind though).

After the course, people were able to find jobs, felt more confident and were really proud of what they’ve achieved. And that makes a lot of difference in the world.

The bad

As you can see from the title, it is also not all great. There were things that after a while felt a bit stale. This has more to do with the program and format of the course rather than teaching itself, but here it is :


I hate doing the same stuff over and over again. I don’t find comfort in it. And teaching the same program got really fricking tiring. I was to bored myself, that at times I realised I lost the passion for the subject that I am teaching at all and I sound like a school teaching after teaching the same subject for 20 years.

A big part of teaching is repeating the same thing, sometimes 5 times during the lesson, and it drove me crazy. After few courses I had the ability to read people’s minds question wise and once they started saying “How do I do…” I was like “Ctrl+D”. Five times in a row.

Teaching just basics

Since I had to tech people with no background in design, I had to teach it from the very basics. Just the very basics. Because there was no time for any nuances or higher level knowledge. And that really bummed me out. There is nothing wrong with basics, but sometimes you do want to tell more about the subject, since you have some golden knowledge to share that is harder to acquire, but you have no time for it, and people don’t have the knowledge to understand it yet.


One might think, that once you prepare the program that is it. False. You spend a lot of unpaid hours perfecting the program, adding more examples, making every slide more clear, trying to look at the same subject from a different angle, making it more interesting… A lot of hours.Also, answering student’s questions after the course, helping them fix their files, or just having a chat after the lesson.Basically I would say you spend the same amount of hours preparing for the course as you do teaching it. Sometimes even more. So one lesson per week 12 to 4 will takes two days of your schedule.

The ugly

There is also the ugly part – the part I had to quit for.


Whenever a person comes to my class, I want him/her to succeed, to be the best, to find a job and make a career. But, I have to side with unpopular opinion – not everybody is born to do design. It comes to the matter of taste, culture, experience and ability to learn – all the things that are really hard to learn if you haven’t collected them during you life journey. And in these cases you can see those people trying, but also you see their motivation slowly getting really low, since they can see that their classmates are doing much better. And it kind of breaks your heart.

The pay

I was only paid for the hours I was in class, and of course the management expected me to give the best results and make students happy. That required a lot of preparation. I was also told to respond to my students off work, and a month after the course ended. It was really time consuming, and I could not focus on my main work.The pay wasn’t something of a fairy-tale too, and with the experience that I had, I earn much more spending the same amount of hours freelancing. And in those brief moments of silence, all I could think of was my freelance work and how I rather be doing it.

Lack of power

In these kind of courses you have little to no power. People pay the school to be taught, and you have to teach them. It drove me crazy, when people disrespect you to your face, and the whole class sees it, and you just have to remain cool. Also, the people that were slacking and hoping for the same result as the rest of the class.

The only power I had was writing the grade at the end of the course, but the grade did not actually meant anything, so once they realised they did not care about the grade, I lost all the power.

Not my dream job

And at the end of the day, I realised this wasn’t my dream job. I could not see myself working there for 5 years, and/or making a career. This was a side reod for me, which even though, taught me a lot, was not my main focus. There were days I got home at 6pm, worked on my main job till midnight, prepared the next days lesson till 3am, and had to wake up at 7am. This was too exhausting and I had to sacrifice something.

Long story short :

I am glad I am giving the last lecture in January, making my new years resolution to find new ways to teach people without the bad and the ugly parts of it. I am also glad I took upon this opportunity to realise this teaching form was not for me. And I also don’t want to discourage anybody, who things of taking a similar position, but I want to warn that it is not all daisies and butterflies. But… Do I regret it? No, not really.