A coding resolution for the new year (deja vu?)

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Image Source: http://coachtoddreed.com/2013/make-this-new-years-resolution-stick/

I have not traditionally been a person who makes New Years resolutions. I do believe resolutions are important, as the act of declaring some kind of promise with the intention of self-improvement is a wonderful practice. I simply believe it can be worthwhile to declare resolutions throughout the year.

This being said, I have recently come to realize that perhaps there is something I have overlooked about the practice of declaring resolutions for a new year. There is something important about the time between Winter Solstice, marking the shortest day/longest night of each year, and the first day of the Gregorian Calendar, January 1. This stretch of roughly eleven days can easily cause disruptions in one’s mental and physical health. Cold, darkness, holidays, travel, and an increase in social obligations cause typical routines to shift. For teachers of all kinds, the stretch between semesters can provide time for rest, but can also necessitate more time spent finishing work from Fall semester and planning and organizing for Spring semester. All of this can leave us feeling disconnected and anxious, creating a need for self-renewal.

January 1 isn’t necessarily the day when I feel my energy needing a specific renewal effort, but I do always feel that need at some point in January. My typical formula for self-renewal includes more yoga, more tea (less coffee), less sugar, and more quality time with friends and loved ones. This year, I am adding an additional variable to my formula: more coding. More specifically, I’m re-committing myself to the resolution I made almost 4 months ago to learn to code.

I have taken an extended break from my own coding studies over the last several weeks, and have been feeling guilty about it. Part of that time was spent coding with children to celebrate and learn from “Hour of Code”, and part of that time was spent simply focusing on my professional goals and responsibilities for 2015. It has become glaringly obvious, however, that I have been neglecting my personal goals, which gives me pause for reflection.

I want to learn to code for several reasons. Perhaps the most important is to give myself a new, exciting, and hard challenge. I am a teacher, but I want to give myself an opportunity to be a student as well. I want to explore something that is completely different from anything I’ve learned about before, and explore new ways of thinking and understanding the world.

I launched my personal coding goal in October, and learned a great deal since that time. Even though I have not been actively practicing coding for the past several weeks, it have been tremendously helpful to have some time to process the learning that I did, and connect with the new learning I hope to continue to do. Perhaps my winter break from coding was representative of the reasons why any break is important in an intense learning process. Perhaps this is the reason why semester breaks are traditional in most educational contexts.

At any rate, I am ready for renewal. I am throwing caution to the wind and declaring a New Year’s resolution: I resolve to learn to code in 2015. I also resolve to continue to explore the process of learning to code through this blog. Over coming weeks and months, I plan to do the following: 

  • Continue to learn Ruby, and move on from tutorials to coding actual projects
  • Continue to explore the process of coding with children, using tools offered by code.org, and Scratch
  • Connect with others learning to code, both educators and non-educators
  • Explore the types of thinking necessary for coding, and discover pedagogy for teaching these concepts in ways that children and teachers can understand and connect to
  • Explore my own process of growth in coding through reflection on how I handle encounters with the unexpected. Inspired by a colleague and co-teacher, I consider this to be a necessary point of reflection as we propel toward a future we can’t predict or imagine. Since this is an assignment we gave our wonderful graduate students this semester, I dedicate this goal to them in the name of practicing what I preach!
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Image Source: http://coachtoddreed.com/2013/make-this-new-years-resolution-stick/

Despite the fact that I am making this resolution in January, I also resolve to recommit myself to my goal of learning to code whenever necessary. I have to say that it feels pretty good to make a New Years resolution that I already have a head start on, and I can not wait to see where it takes me this year!

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5 thoughts on “A coding resolution for the new year (deja vu?)

  1. Second thoughts: the above site seems to think that you know about programming in another language.
    But the “Try it” screen/window lets you enter your own code, and it works.

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  2. Hey thanks Howard, I will give this a try! I have been going back through the Codecademy tutorial I did in the fall to refresh myself, and I definitely need to move on from that. I was also recommended theodinproject.com, which is supposed to be a great next step after tutorials, because it gives you little projects to try. You can also share your solutions and see other users’ solutions.

    Did you ever get Ruby to run on your computer?

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  3. “Did you ever get Ruby to run on your computer?” > Not yet, other stuff took over !
    I had a look at the odinproject.com site, it looks a bit heavy as well.
    I have a question: What do you want to do with Ruby when you have cracked it? It looks to me as though the main purpose of Ruby, and all the examples given, are about text processing, searching, etcetera, all what I would call background programming.
    Do you want to write code that your kids can use?
    Do you want to have a go at graphics?

    Sorry, that is now three questions.

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  4. Haha, I understand other things taking over for sure!

    Those are great questions about Ruby, and ones that I have asked myself for sure.
    I want to learn to code in order to discover for myself the types of thinking necessary. Coding is not something that I understood at all before I started this project. Thus, I chose to learn Ruby because it was the easiest for me to understand right out of the gate. Thus, I’m primarily using it as a vehicle for detecting what this coding thing is all about.

    That being said, I have started to identify some possibilities for ways to use it in my work as a teacher educator. These have mainly been ideas around better ways to keep and manipulate data (tools I wish I had), and ways to build little tools that my (adult) students could use.

    I am always drawn to graphics, and I think it would be wonderful to be able to program things children could use, but I’m not even close to there yet. I was convinced (by peers) early on that an education in “back end” development would serve as a good foundation for understanding “front end” (and make learning front end faster and easier in the future). I’ve since encountered other perspectives on this matter, but am staying this course in the name of experimentation for now. I’m a lover of the Vygotskian notion of Zone of Proximal Development, and I want to see how far I can take myself before I need major interventions (or a change of course) to progress. Make sense?

    Have you played with Scratch? It’s like the next generation of Logo. I’m curious what you would be able do with it!

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