Personal Retrospective :: Focus Week

 Takeaways - Being the worst person in the room

For focus week, the gSchool class was split into three groups: Emerging Group, Progress Group and the Challenge Group. 

Deciding which group to work with was fairly difficult. The Progress Group was working with Jeff(@j3) to shore up the foundations and learn new ways of looking at old projects - while the Challenge Group was going to work further with Ruby Processing to draw out a functional tic-tac-toe game. 

I definitely needed some shoring up and I liked the idea of working with Jeff(@j3), since I've never gotten to attend a smaller session that he was running… but I've noticed over the last few weeks that unless I get to play with a concept, it rarely sticks… so in class lectures are a thing that I get enthusiastic for and then start to drift out of quickly. 

In the end, I tentatively jumped to the challenge group (thanks to some encouraging from other challenge group members, who are by and large incredibly patient teachers). 

The first day I worked only with @SimonTaranto, and on the second day we pulled @WVMitchell into our group. It might be the single most fun week of the class for me so far… but maybe that has more to do with my work partners being generally very fun. In my experience so far, the 'challenge' group students tend to approach errors in code as funny things or challenges to conquer rather than seeing them as individual sources of frustration. They are also a little better at dropping things that they're stuck on and then coming back to them.

I definitely feel I understand a little better how to pair program after this week. Part of week was that we were told to work in pomodoros, and to take a five minute time before the pomodoro to set a goal for the next 25 minutes and to review how well we did in hitting our last goal. While this felt kind of silly, it was actually incredibly helpful.

I still need to practice being able to understand a concept when I'm not actually the one typing. I ended up spending time last night and this morning taking apart the code from the project and trying to write in a way to add images. It's hard for me to tell when I'm grasping the actual concept, or just the outline.. until I'm sitting in front of a computer and having to create something. 

I enjoyed learning in a small, similar-skill-level group but I'm not sure that I would want that to be the layout of the class for the next 24 weeks. I was probably one of the least advanced programmers in the challenge group but I very much benefited from working with higher skill level students. If we were always split up, some of the students that were too hesitant to pop into the challenge group or wisely chose to shore up their foundations would be missing out on that group's energy and skill-set. 

Next week we will be moving into starting web applications. I actually have a lot more experience in creating web applications, so I'm not nervous… However, I am really enjoying learning the nuts and bolts stuff though, and hope I still get to focus on it. Trying to keep in mind Aimee from last class's advise to not just do the things that you're good at and to instead try the things you suck at.