Hi there! I teach design and web development classes at General Assembly and work with illustrators and editors at Midnight Breakfast. Some of my previous work can be seen at Cantilever.
You can also find me on Twitter as @nevan.
I’ve always wanted to teach.I’ve had a teaching bug for as long as I can remember. I had really great teachers throughout elementary and secondary school. In 8th grade, I was part of a math club where I got to practice walking through approaches to problems with the 7th graders on the team. There were always kids who were quicker than I was, but I had an early knack for communicating ideas to others. In high school, one chemistry teacher even let me presentI also helped grade some papers, which makes me feel kinda iffy in retrospect. a lesson one day. The first time I ever made any money, I taught kids’ gymnastics over the summer. Over the course of the past few years, I’ve been able to take on more teaching engagements, first at Noble Desktop,I started out teaching a workshop on developing custom themes for Wordpress, and went on to build a new workshop for them on responsive design. I really liked teaching at Noble, and still recommend it, but its classes are structuredClasses take place in computer labs, and are very scripted. As an instructor, you go through a workbook with the students, demonstrating how to work through a section step by step before having the students work through the same section from their books. I can attest firsthand to how this structure helps keep up quality, and works well for the short format of the classes. In the end though, I wanted more freedom to plan and experiment, and a longer stretch of time with students to see how they learned and adjust accordingly. in a way that helped me get into teaching but didn’t feel quite right for me personally. now at General Assembly,At GA, I started out teaching a 10-week part-time course on front-end web development whose curriculum I subsequently helped overhaul.I developed several exercises and projectsI made a simple “About Me” website, which utilizes only a very basic set of HTML elements (no ids or classes), and very lightly introduces the concept of floats. This is followed by a single-column blog, which I use to introduce a greater range of HTML elements, along with nested CSS. That has a 2-column redesign which students transition to, using floats for page layout and for the navigation. It’s fascinating to me that it is doable now, but students who take the class actually learn to code layouts to be fluid right out of the gate. From here, they are ready to tackle the more complex layouts in Startup Matchmaker, which I give them with extra pages which have not been “designed”, as an exercise for them to imagine and create those pages based on the style established on the given pages. that I’m particularly proud during this process, including a box model exercise, a way to explore the basics of classes and ids, a simple and visual way to approach page layouts, an introduction to nested selectors, an old-school game of rock, paper, scissors, and a basic cash register. I also developed a series of refactored color scheme switchers which I’ve found are very effective for progressively introducing more sophisticated approaches to refactoring JS–first in pure JS, then using a body class to remove CSS from the JS, next doing the same thing with jQuery, and finally making the code more flexible by using the “this” keyword. As I continued to run the class, I built up an accompanying course website over time, starting out with something very rudimentary, then rolling, rolling, rolling. Now I teach an immersive course in user experience design, which has been as demanding as it has been rewarding. where I teach full time.
As part of my general tendency to overthink whatever I’m doing, I’ve been reading more blogs about educationMy early favorite had to be Dan Meyer’s blog, which I got into after a friend sent me his TED talk. I also found myself really intrigued by Bret Victor’s Kill Math project. More recently, I’ve been especially taken with Audrey Watters’ Hack Education, Tressie McMillan Cottom’s tressiemc blog, Ben Orlin’s Math with Bad Drawings, Sam Shah’sCome on, just look at these final projects from his multivariable calculus class. How could you not be jealous of results like that? Continuous Everywhere…, and José Vilson. in recent years, which has been a real pleasure. Reading and practicing have allowed me to start forming some of my own thoughts about teaching.
I’ve been working closely with Rebecca Rubenstein and Taylor Pavlik for the past year to get a literary magazineProducing a magazine is another one of those lifelong goals that I’m tickled and honored to be partaking in. I became at least mildly obsessed with the idea of the web as a publication medium in the mid-90s. For a time in college, I worked on an alternative (print) zine with some friends, writing and doing layout for the internals. I later worked on the college newspaper’s design, as well as its website. Meanwhile, I worked with Elfie Raymond on the publication of long-form poetry in The Language Exchange. My biggest prior undertaking was a web magazine I launched in 2005 called Sadie Lou—which Rebecca and Taylor also worked on. off the ground, with the help of Lauren O’Neal, Ashley Perez, and a ton of wonderfulI really don’t want to pick favorites, so I encourage you if you’re interested to look through the Midnight Breakfast archive. It’s a true treasure trove. I’ve worked most closely with the illustrators, and spear-headed our decision to feature original illustrations with every piece we publish. I can’t even get started on how incredibly lucky I’ve felt getting to work with so many amazing people, who take the time to read and respond to the great writing I send them, creating just beautiful visual additions to the site. I’m proud to say that we pay all of these contributors, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug our ongoing campaign to remain funded by readers. writers and artists.
I like to make websites, and have spent most of my career doing so. I learned to make websites as a hobby, and in college I found myself a position making websites for professors. I started out working for an agencyThis was a real Baptism-by-fire experience for me, where I was launched straight into a major redesign of a commercial website for an international pomegranate juice brand.A brand, I have to admit, that I had never heard of before working on the website. I worked on the front-end, the back-end, moved the whole setup onto git to manage deploys, consulted on the user experience, and everything in between. It was a big project with a lot of late nights. I learned a ton. in LA, then moved to New York, where I have worked on projects as a freelancerSome highlights include customizing Jekyll for A Working Library, designing and building a mobile-optimized site for Buzzfeed, and redesigning the David Korins Design website. Honestly, I’m kind of terrible at freelancing. and for the past several years as a partner at Cantilever.I worked on websites and apps for NYU-Poly, Sugar in the Raw, Hoefler & Co., Northeastern, Droga5, Designer Pages, Animal New York, Handi-lift, IEH, Rustic Pathways, and Jaime Morrison.