Take a Step Back – Day 6

Vertical Learning versus Horizontal Learning

As of yesterday, I have decided to dig deeper into HTML. I need to master one concept at a time versus learning several and not retaining anything, especially during the challenge exercises. As of Day: 5 of the FreeCodeCamp curriculum, I  have completed 111 challenges. Up until this point, I honestly didn’t feel I was moving too fast through the material. After my first portfolio performance the other day and self-reflection, I am not pleased with my results. As a result, I need to reevaluate my entire approach.

In an effort to stay organized, which is a project in and of itself, I will take the necessary time to review what I’ve learned about my journey so far. I want to ensure that I focus on the things that move toward my goal. This requires additional research from different sources and formats. Covering a topic from different perspectives help identify what was overlooked or I failed to notice. Since deciding to employ a vertical learning technique from this point moving forward, I’ve realized helps answer unresolved questions that I was not able to bring forward from the back of my mind.
By working vertically through the full stack curriculum forces me to develop habits and soft skills of a good developer. I have seen an instant improvement in my ability to:
  • understand and connect my pain to an unresolved problem.
  • form a hypothesis and challenge any assumptions I’ve made.
  • immediately identify the right solution when it presents itself.
  • better organize my thoughts into cohesive chunks of visible information.

These are skills I will carry with me throughout my career. Mastering the details, understanding the big picture, slow down to speed up. I realize it’s not that we lack ability; we lack clarity. Once we form a clearer picture, we can focus on what’s in front of us.

Mastering the Details

As I mentioned above, I am going to slow down my pace, take a couple days to decompress, and organize my thoughts around what I’ve learned so far. Although I feel that I am working in the right direction, I could refine my thoughts into a working model that reflects my understanding of HTML. I want to master the details. So I must go back over my work, dot my I’s and cross my T’s. Therefore, I will update the FreeCodeCamp Challenge that I have completed and improve it.
So yes, I could bulldoze straight through the example and challenge exercises, but how would this benefit me? It’s not breadth that matters most, but depth, demonstrated proficiently, and measurable improvement, right? It’s about ensuring that my best work is documented in my GitHub repository. I am a firm believer and repetition is the parent of skill. Just like any person of high skill, I will only get better by focusing on the fundamentals and mastering the details.
It’s like I’ve drawn a stick person – it’s basic. Now I need to learn how to draw cartoon characters, and over time I will work towards creating a masterpiece. Does this make sense?Basically, I have a feeling that my work isn’t complete and should be considered a first draft.
Knowing my work ethic, whenever I feel my work is unfinished, I’m usually right. I usually continue to work until I am satisfied with the final outcome. (Of course, this is all within a reasonable amount of time). So far, this approach has always worked to my advantage and has served me well. This method may require more time, which improves as I improve my ability. I like to think that time and skill are indirectly related. Since I currently have a low skill threshold, coding will take more of my time to complete. Yet, hard work pays dividends. As my skill improves, the time once required to complete similar tasks, decreases.
I’d much rather spend the necessary time right now to focus on the details so that later I can focus on bringing value to my employer or client and solve their problems.

Getting a Big Picture from the Details

I also noticed that need to work on my communication style as a key competence. At this point, I am not talking so much about the technical aspects of my writing ability, grammar, or spelling that a good tool can resolve. I am primarily addressing the strategic, organization, and flow of ideas approach in my writing.
Note: Speech is not exempt. Personally, I tend to speak as they write – which is really fast. With intentional edit/organization, can be more polished and impressive, I am aware that this is one of my weaker points, not because I am incapable, but because I tend to work and move at lightening speed and most people cannot keep up, so I must adjust so that nothing gets lost in translation or causes me rework. Taking those few extra moments to frame what it is I have to say, help demonstrate the best representation of what I have to offer. This takes being aware, much practice, and consistent patience. It is something I will continue to hone throughout this process so that my ideas sell.
What I am referring to is easy how quickly we can neglect good essay structure and outline skills, and editing writing when we forget everything is a component of a bigger picture. I want to make sure that my ideas are cohesive and clear so that anyone can understand the progression into my career. Communication that is marketable, and methodological. In the end, every little thing counts. Even if no one visits my website, I still must approach this blog as if it’s a showpiece and critical component within my portfolio. At the very least, it is a marketing piece to future employers. Whenever we put things into the public sphere, we must remember that everything matters and first impressions count.
I am not saying I am the best writer or speaker, but competent communication must be a strong point when working with ideas.
To help me with this, moving forward, I will shorten the amount of information covered in each post, section my ideas to provide a better view of how the details fit into the bigger picture, and of course edit by work to fit good writing conventions.
Limiting posts into 3-4 supporting ideas should help me improve and better demonstrate my written communications skills, complement my research and study habits, and outline outstanding needs for further review.
My goal is that this website documents my overall progress, which is as much for me as it is for anyone following a similar path.

Slow Down to Speed Up

As I’ve I have mentioned several times before, sometimes we have to “slow down to speed up“. It may seem like a prolonged approach to learning, but it’s actually necessary front end work to prevent repeating sections. I want to avoid wasting unnecessary time on simple tasks that can be easily prevented by mastering the fundamentals and optimizing reasonable ease and command. These are things that many of us already know. The trick is putting what we know into practice, which is what I intend to do, and why I am documenting it. Documentation helps create accountability.
My approach is to become a “mad scientist”. Meaning, I will make my computer my laboratory as I test different elements, attributes, and values to understand how they interact with one another. Invariably, this requires me to slow down, but it also has the added effect of giving my mind time to absorb new information, stretch out ideas, and retain it all.
I don’t want to remember syntax because I was told about it, I want to know the syntax because I tried it and know.

My Next Steps

Now it’s time for me to summarize what I discussed and put it into practice. Below is a manageable list of three (3) action items to be implemented immediately within the next couple days.

  • Edit wrote content so that it’s organized and centered around a major theme of 2-4 supporting ideas.
  • Rework and re-record the FreeCodeCamp Challenge #1 to show improvement (and be sure to practice speaking slower in videos).