[Redacted] Academy – Week One

WOW . . . Where do I start? I think i’ll start by telling you about what a typical day at [Redacted] is like.

Our day starts at 10:00am with a lecture, the lecture usually covers the lesson from the day before and is chromecast for the entire class, after the instructor goes though the lesson we have a Q&A session.

After the morning lecture we move into pair programming but pair programming is hard. None of us are at the same level — Some of us get it, some of us don’t, and I lie somewhere in the middle. I understand that the idea behind pair programming is that each person will gain something no matter what their skill level because the person who is flying through the lesson is forced to slow down and verbalize to the person that isn’t getting it and when you verbalize (teach someone) something you’re reinforcing what you’ve learned.

Then there is the afternoon lecture which includes the “Tip of the day”, this is usually some sort of shortcut or an “a-ha” moment. Then we talk a bit about where we are in our current lesson and have another Q&A.

After the afternoon lecture we return to pair programming, the entire time we’re coding the instructors are walking around and peeking at our screens to see if we are struggling or to see if someone is moving too fast, if someone is moving too fast then they may throw a wrench in the code to slow us down (it builds character).

Our day officially ends at 6:00pm but a lot of us stay later — either to code or just hang out.

This is the basic structure so far, the only difference is that on Fridays we have “Study Hall” and that gives us time to catch up or get extra one on one help.

Now, let’s talk a little more about how it’s going . . .

The Awesome:

Every single woman at [Redacted] is brilliant and I feel such gratitude to be a part of this group. . . Maybe even a little intimidated. I mean, these are just scary smart ladies!


All of our instructors are awesome but today I want to give a special shout out to our main instructor, [Redacted] because she is amazing! I am not trying to be a kiss ass, I only speak facts.

Even though I don’t know [Redacted] very well you can tell by the way that she teaches that she chose to be an instructor, there’s a big difference between a teacher who loves to teach and a teacher who is teaching for a paycheck and [Redacted] is clearly passionate about turning women into bad ass developers. [Redacted] has offered more than once to stay late and help those of us who are not understanding certain concepts but unfortunately, [Redacted] is only one person and while I know she would willingly live at [Redacted] and work 24hrs a day trying to make each and everyone of us great, I just don’t think that’s a fair request.

The Needs Improvement:

Everyone has a specific learning style. My learning style is a combination of visual and tactical which means that ideas, concepts, data need to be associated with images and techniques. Once the visuals set in then I need to carry out a physical activity, rather than just listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. I noticed that [Redacted] leans towards the auditory learners (a person learns through listening) which is great for some but not for me. I need to see bits of code or have a white boarding session. Comparing technical concepts to something tangible is extremely helpful for me — During one lesson they compared input and output to funnels and when explained in those terms I got it but sometimes I end up writing notes like this.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 1.40.24 PM

I went into [Redacted] nervous but I felt prepared, I spent a lot of time on Learn Python The Hard Way, Code Academy, Code.org, and Googling but when I walk into [Redacted] I feel like I know nothing about code and everything I thought I knew is gone. . .  I feel like i’ve been dropped off in France without a translator. Most of the class finished four lessons this week and I finished ZERO! Right now I am looking at three half finished lessons and to tell you the truth, I don’t even understand the halves that are done. What I’ve been doing is i’ve been coming home after [Redacted]  and studying until midnight (at least) with the intention of finishing the lesson and being better prepared for the next day, I did this all week. I am a fairly logical person and I know that I should sleep so that my brain can reset. I know that if you have that rest that you’re able to get more out of the next day but at the same time I feel like if I don’t self study then I am not going to move forward.


Quitting is NOT an option, not learning is NOT an option. I have an amazing amount of support and my family has made sacrifices — My kids don’t see me, my husband is now full-time Mr. Mom, as well as the sole provider, my friends are toting my kids around when Colin can’t, and people are letting me crash on their couches so I don’t have to commute. Everyone around me is giving up something so that I can eat, sleep, code, repeat and that is not something that I take lightly. My only job is to learn and that is exactly what I will do.

All that said, I am realistic and I don’t expect to complete [Redacted] and be a Sr Developer and I know (and hope) that there will be a lifetime of learning ahead of me. Right or wrong, I think that I need to be more selfish over the next 10 weeks. I don’t want to sort of learn something, I want to really know what the fuck I am doing and WHY. I need to actually learn during my classroom hours so that I can come home, spend time with my kids, and go to sleep. Staying up all night trying to understand that days lesson just isn’t going to work long term. I will burn out BUT I have a good feeling about things moving forward,  I think that as the weeks go by and the instructors spend more one on one time with us that they will have a better understanding of how to structure lectures so that we’re all getting something from it.

I survived week one, it was scary, exciting, humbling, and brain melty but it’s worth it.