This weekend I wrapped up my work on the Programming Foundations course at Launch School and passed the 109 assessment. I certainly won’t be discarding those foundations as I move on, but I do look forward to the wealth of new material ahead.
Speaking of that assessment — what a learning experience it was for me. It was my first experience live-coding with someone watching every keystroke I made. If you have ever performed on stage, you know that feeling afterwards when you walk into the wings:
‘What happened out there? Did I black out? I don’t remember a thing!’
I was a bit frantic. I foresee many live-coding peer sessions in my future in order to reduce that anxiety and learn to code methodically under pressure. Ultimately, the assessment was a good experience. It was nice to chat with our Instructor a bit and get his insight.
Now, I move forward into Object-Oriented Programming. My goal as I continue through Launch School into courses 120 and 130 is to work with increased focus. It won’t be easy with a cross-country move coming up next month and a high-energy one-year-old who needs me in his every waking moment. During my first six to eight weeks as a Launch School student, I lacked commitment. I didn’t have confidence that I was ‘smart enough’ to learn to program, and I was constantly taking several days off in a row. This led to increased frustration when I would finally sit down at my computer and I had forgotten some of what I’d previously learned. The more time I’d taken off, the harder it was to get back in ‘the zone’. I’ve realized in the past month that it’s more about commitment and hard work than intelligence. Squeezing in two or three hours of work on even the busiest days can go a lot further than you think. When I feel like I’m taking only the tiniest of steps forward, I look back and see how far I have come. Let’s get real — a few months ago I didn’t know what a string was.
If you’re brand-spanking-new to programming like I am, circular learning is key. There is so much new information to digest all of the time. It’s impossible to retain it all equally at once. When I first started working on the Launch School curriculum I felt at ease with arrays, but was intimidated by hashes and loops. By continuing to revisit these concepts via reading materials and code exercises, I became completely comfortable using them.
I know that I will reap the rewards of a mastery-based approach later on, so I try not to concern myself with rushing through course material in a certain timeframe. It would be a mistake to hurry along without having gained a deep understanding of the concepts at hand, because the resulting gaps in knowledge could have negative affects on my skills in the long-term. For now, I practice patience and trust the process.
I’m proud of everything I have learned so far, and I look forward to the transformation of my skills over the next few months. OOP is going to open up a whole new world and I’m excited to dive in!