Teaching "Intro to graphic design" at American University, Fall 2023

I was invited to teach this class after the original professor had to bow out at the last minute. At first I wasn't sure, even leaning toward saying "no" and offering to pass the opportunity along to other peers. But after consulting my family and closest friends and talking through the pros/cons, I decided to go for it. I'm confident I'm going to learn so so much. It'll be an great way to practice my time-management and some other soft skills.

My mom is a teacher. I grew up watching her prep and grade on weekends for classes 3 weeks in advance (not to mention attending back to school nights, school functions, and organizing extracurricular activities for her students). Teaching is incredibly hard work. While my situation is much different than mom's, I'm still bracing for what I know will be a challenging and demanding semester. To make sure I can give my absolute best to my students, and continue to perform well in my day job, I need to scale back on self-imposed commitments I've made. This includes:

  • Writing new blog posts. Having an idea of what to write about is never a problem for me. I have a mountain-size backlog of ideas that will only continue to grow. I have some irons-in-the-fire that are nearly ready to come out, and I may use my first-day-of-class as a deadline to just hit publish and get them out into the world. But for the rest that are outlines and loose notes, I will let them marinate as they are. I won't be publishing any new blog posts until 2024.
  • Updating old blog posts. In late June I announced I was refreshing 7 of my posts. This was to clear out any now-stale advice after all the new features announced at Config 2023. I briefly described the "tuning up" that each post needed, and my goal was to have all 7 posts refreshed by the end of this year. But now I need that time back, so I am going to re-commit to a new timeline after my teaching engagement ends. For now, enjoy the two posts I already updated: "When to use variants, component props, variables, or separate components" and "12 ways to make your Figma components more delightful to use."
  • Streaming my YNAB live build series. I don't mention it much here on my site, but to test my theory about the 7 different types of components I've embarked on building a component library from scratch. I picked one of my personal favorite products: YNAB (short for "You Need A Budget"). I've been doing 30m streams on youtube every other Thursday morning, and then summarizing what I worked on and am learning for interested newsletter subscribers. A benefit of pausing this endeavor will give me space to re-think how I run the project. I've been lucky to meet Jared Gebel through this work, and his front-end knowledge has been a huge asset. He's helped me overcome lots of hurdles over the months. An idea I'm rolling around is how I can make this even more engaging for folks... get more people involved... Come 2024 I will have news about whether or not this project is changing, and how. But once class starts, no new streams.
  • Providing timely replies to the folks who write in for advice. I've noticed a small but steady uptick in people using my contact form and replying to my newsletter emails to ask for advice. This is fabulous! It informs my blog post idea backlog, it challenges me to re-think and past advice I've given from new angles, and I get to meet really cool, kind, and talented designers from all over. I try to get back to these emails as soon as I can (people are often surprised by this), but I want to set the expectation for the rest of 2023 that I will take longer to get back to folks. How long? I don't know yet. Can't even guess. But for everyone who writes in to me, I will try to give you a personal estimate of when to expect an answer.

I'll see you after finals... wish me luck!