I am just about two weeks into the first summer of my post-teaching career. What was my part-time enterprise of app-writing for the past three years is now becoming my full-time endeavor.
I started out with an interest in iOS apps. I’ve been a big Apple fan since the first iPhone, and always wished there was a way as a teacher to keep track of my classes and lessons on my phone. So I created a lesson-planning and calendar app specifically for music teachers. I had to teach myself the Swift programming language, how to save and access data from a server, and many other new skills. (This wasn’t really my “first” tech, as I’ve been running WordPress websites for years).
After finishing my planning app, I taught myself Java and converted the entire program to Android. Then, I followed up with a pocket xylophone app and a staff music player app, for students and teachers who either don’t have access to an instrument, or have a disability that interferes with playing.
This past winter, as I was making the decision to take a break from teaching, I decided that if I was serious about making a living on software, I couldn’t be writing every program for each device separately. This led me to Xamarin, which is built on Microsoft’s .NET platform in C#, and allows you to create apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac with a lot of shared code.
Once I had a foot in the Microsoft world, I realized that I could make not only apps, but websites and web apps with this same language! This is when I started to build Unison.School, which will be the home of my future music-teacher offerings. I’ve created an online xylophone, piano, and staff player, which is free for everyone. I’m also building a set of assessments for schools to use to quickly check and record student skills. You can see the first grade rhythm example online now.
Of course, there’s always more to learn. I spent an entire week building up a login, registration, and subscription model, so that teachers can use the services when I launch them. Yesterday, I began teaching myself how to do unit tests, which are automated tests that ensure your code is working well.
It’s definitely frustrating if you find yourself not making progress for 2-3 hours, but there’s always a breakthrough eventually. And I have to admit, I’m loving working from home, at my own pace, and by myself.