I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog post as much as I would have liked so far, but that’s with good reason. With week one behind me at Coding Dojo, I’ve put in close to 70 hours of work between writing code, reading code, lectures, debugging, and working on assignments. That figure would have terrified me before, but what I quickly realized is how much I love diving into these problems and assignments. It turns out I actually really enjoy the amount of time we’re putting in and the rate at which I’m writing better code in a shorter amount of time is phenomenal. This weeks assignments were getting a solid base with writing HTML and CSS, then adding in Twitter’s Bootstrap framework and LESS. Bootstrap and LESS have been invaluable additions to my budding development arsenal.
At first, my main concern was to get whatever I’m working on actually working and closely resembling the assignment. Now, I’m changeling myself to see how few lines of code I can write and produce the same result. Going back through older assignments and refactoring gives me an idea of what to do better next time.
Nonetheless, I have came away with some good lessons from the first week. One is to really embrace the Coding Dojo rules:
1.) Be Present – This is not a 9-5 gig, that’s for sure. Generally, I will arrive at the dojo around 7:30 – 8:00 (it’s a 6 mile bike for me, so some trips are slower than others) and work until at least 7:00. After my ride home, I’ll generally spend another 2 hours or so working on that days tasks or getting a jumpstart on the next day.
2.) Strength through struggle – I think this rule has been the most beneficial for me so far. Part of learning something that sticks with you is struggling through it. Also, I’ve found things that I’ve learned while trying to find a solution helps solve other problems down the road. It’s not like this is sink or swim. This rule comes with the wonderful caveat of the 20 minute rule. Don’t spend more than 20 minutes trying to figure out something on your own. Time is at a premium, and you really want to be as efficient as possible. After you’ve banged your head against the desk (metaphorically…at least most of the time) reach out to one of your classmates. Sometimes, the simple matter of saying your problem out loud, or thinking of it in a way to explain what’s going on to someone else can solve it for you. If you and some of your group mates can’t figure out the issue then it’s time to grab an instructor. I really love the system because it gives you a chance to debug other people’s code and work on problems in a group setting. If the group can’t figure it out, one of the instructors will explain the issue on the whiteboard for the whole class.
3.) Be humble – This should be pretty self-explanatory. Everyone is from different backgrounds, learns at a different pace, and has varying levels of experience with the material.
With week one down, I’ve met some amazing people from all sorts of backgrounds and watch my skill grow exponentially. Something that would have otherwise taken me about a couple to a few days, I can have knocked out in 6-8 hours of solid work. Really looking forward to see what week two has in store for me and my fellow code ninjas.