Tomorrow is the first day of school for the Hackbright evening courses. This semester, there will be three cohorts for the ‘Intro to Programming’ class and one cohort for the ‘Frontend Development’ class. In comparison to last semester’s offerings, where there was one cohort for each class. The additional classes were added this semester due to the increase in demand.
I am one of the instructors for the Frontend class. While I am excited to meet the new cohort of ladies who are eager to code, I am still surprised when I learn others have an interest in learning the field in which I’ve enjoyed for so many years.
‘So, why do you want to learn to code?’
This is the first question that my students can expect to hear tomorrow. My hope is that the students have seriously thought about this and their goals before making both the time and financial commitment of joining the class. I hope to communicate that ‘learning to code’ should not be the goal in itself. Because unfortunately that goal is unattainable and unreachable. Even after fifteen years professionally, I am still learning how to code. Everyone learns differently. For me, learning is best when it comes with objective goals and results.
‘What do you want to build by the end of this class?’
This is likely the second question that I will ask. What are your deliverable results for this class? I’m not a learning expert, but I believe learning can be more effective when there is an achievable and visible finish line. For my class, the final project serves as this finish line. In the past, some of the students have found cool ways to incorporate code into their current work responsibilities or passion project. Its also best when the deliverable aligns with the ‘why’. There may be some students who are looking for a career change. Building an interactive site which serves a portfolio item and/or includes some info that’s relevant to their dream companies is a good example. Some students have entrepreneurship goals. Their project may include building a site to serve as a prototype for their idea.
My secret: I’m not really teaching you how to code
Many of the students will end the class and be able to name all the technologies and languages they were exposed to within the class. But this really is not my goal. After the class ends, the same technology they learned within class will change. There will be many more programming languages and frameworks. My goal is to teach the students how to learn. That is the part that will exponentially grow beyond the classroom and hopefully fuel their motivation to continue on.