Progress – Not Perfection

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“Progress – Not Perfection” is a quote by Kathy Freston, a best selling author on the body/mind/spirit approach to health and wellness. This quote reminds us that even though we have a way to go before we become accomplished web developers, we don’t have to be stressed about being perfect right now.  What’s important is that we keep on our path and continue learning code –  brick-by-brick, hour-by-hour, two hours a day – until we reach our goal.

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Today, we take a breath on our code trail and and see the view of how far we’ve come along so far.  Since the launch of our code-learning journey in 2014, we have definitely made progress.  Last year at this time, we had just finished a course on HTML were then learning how to make background colors with CSS.  Now here we are, creating for-loops, objects and variables so we can duplicate the hour blocks to our “Mountain of Code Tower” with javascript.  We still have our foam board grid and colored pens, but this year we will also create a tower with code (HTML, CSS and Javascript).

We are deep in the woods of our code learning journey and are making progress daily.  I feel like Cheryl Strayed from the book Wild, I’ve gone too far to turn back and I look ahead and see the many miles we need to go.  At least I still have my boots!

We are not perfect, but that’s okay.  We are getting some traction and have moved beyond the newbie stage of last year.  With Treehouse, Code Academy, and independent practice, we have delving into: frameworks, advanced CSS, HTML forms, Javascript, jQuery, responsive design, Sass, Console, Git basics, web optimization and more.  All these topics are like different puzzle pieces that we need to learn how put together.  We are starting to understand the different shapes of the puzzle.  Now it’s time start learning how to build something beautiful.

Detour – Proofreading Code

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After learning about linear gradients on Treehouse, which  blends two colors on a web page background, I decided to add it to my codemoms project.  Yet, when I tried to add the code, it only covered half my page and not the entire background.  What was I doing wrong?  I had to stop on my path to figure this out before I went any farther.  It was a detour worth experiencing.

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I learned that there are sites that will check your code for errors.  This is very helpful since we are remote students with no teacher in the room to look at our work.  So I uploaded my html file to the W3C Markup Validator.  WC3 checked my code and informed me that I had more than one error (I won’t say how many).

Even though my web page was functional, I could see that the code was not really clean.  The validator helped me go through my code, line by line, and understand my mistakes.  When I reloaded my html, it said I passed.  Yay!

The big lesson we learned today is that coding needs to be clean, lean and orderly.  I am so glad that we had this detour at an early stage of our trek, so we can build good work habits.  So, after cleaning up my markup and learning a lot, we’re ready to hit the trail.

Learning Code – Keep on Trekking

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As we began our coding journey, I looked at the long road ahead and it looked a bit daunting.  My son wants a career in programming.  Me?  I’m just along for the ride (and to help).  But it wasn’t long before I discovered that I also like learning code.  I realized I’m really not too old to learn a new skill.

Keep on Trekking

So now we look at the path ahead.  How do we get from “wanting” to be software engineers to “becoming” them?  How do we successfully reach the summit of mastering code?  Over my life, I have learned that when confronted with a monumental challenge, it is best to take small steps and pace yourself, and above all – keep on trekking.

So we made a contract with each other, and so far, we have been on a steady incline up the path.  Here is what we agreed:

1. Designate 2-4 hours a day to code.  By learning code for at least two hours a day (up to four if we are on a roll), we know that we are taking small steps and over time, those steps will all add up.

2. Keep a journal.  This is basically our road map.  It has a daily schedule, a monthly summary, it keeps track of our progress, it notes hours spent coding and the computer languages we are learning (currently javascript), as well as listing other classes taken on on line platforms (like math, english, humanities, etc).

3. Work as a team.  Just like having a workout buddy at the gym, being a coding team keeps us trekking the steady climb.  When I originally volunteered to pair code with my son, I thought I would be tutoring him because I am older and wiser, but half the time he is helping me.  He “gets” things I don’t see and vice-versa.  We discuss problems and learn together.  Working as a team keeps us motivated and successful.  Two heads are definitely better than one when learning code.

The trek continues…..