What Learning to Code Taught Me
After spending three full days learning how to code, my brain is full. I now dream about coding, wonder if I forgot a semicolon or didn’t close a bracket and have a fiery desire to learn more. While cramming many weeks of learning into three days led to a lot of overall knowledge gain, it led to frustration and reflection as well.
As an educator, I forgot what it felt like to be a student. It’s been awhile since I’ve truly been in an experience where I was learning basically brand new content for the first time. It really was a humbling reality check. While I knew the overall outcome, WHY I was learning the content and even how I’d apply the learning in my real, everyday life, there were times when I wanted to give up. During work time when struggling, I found myself wanting to collaborate, ask questions to my peers and sometimes just walk around to think. Why as a middle school student in a class is this scolded depending on the teacher? Why as a 27 year old adult in a classroom, this behavior is okay? What type of hierarchy have we set up in schools that students cannot take a break when needed even if they know that’s the best chance for them to refocus?
I was set up for this to be a successful experience. I was a student who went into the class as a choice, knew the long term goals and outcomes of the class, understood the “Why” behind the learning and was challenged. How many times can we even say we hit one if not all those things for our students in our classes? Again, this led to more thought. There are times no matter how dedicated and focused the student; sometimes, students need a brain break, a time to collaborate or time to walk around. Our instructor did a great job of launching instruction and building our necessary knowledge bank in roughly 20 minutes and then we were set off to explore and problem solve. He never gave an answer when we were stuck, instead he guided us to our own “a-ha” moments.
Why, in this experience, was a task that required hard work, critical thinking and problem solving inspire instead of discourage? What was setup to let us know failure was okay? For one, he told us this was tough. He told us we were learning essentially tasks that take weeks in three days. He let us know this requires a lot of patience and perseverance — ahead of time. We had an “all in this together” mentality from the beginning. Even though, I was with people I had never met — we all wanted to see each other succeed. How do we work to set this up better in our own rooms? How does something as rigorous and critical as coding become integrated into math or science instruction? Tasks that might seem as overwhelming and intimidating for some of our students.
I was SO grateful for the three days at DevCode Camp and the opportunity to immerse myself in coding as a learner. I am very thankful for our instructor, Andrew, and the time he took to teach teachers. I am appreciative our district worked to set-up this opportunity for us as educators. My spark has been ignited and I cannot wait to continue to learn more, both with coding and bettering my instruction as an educator.