Brit Butler is a Rails Engineering Instructor at the Atlanta Campus.
I can’t believe it’s already the end of week 5. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the most important quality for an “IronYarder“, instructor, and student alike is emotional resiliency.
An Iron Yard cohort is a serious endeavor: It entails 3 months of peak performance, without breaks. But no one is perfectly consistent (nor can we expect them to be). For the first 2 weeks every successful, engaged lecture was a high achievement, my proudest moment. Every muddled lecture that left my students exhausted felt like a tremendous burden and anything but a “high” achievement.
But this isn’t necessarily a surprise as it is part of the process of learning difficult things. Students will often times find themselves flipping back and forth between a feeling of empowerment when their code actually works and then despondence of “not getting it”.
There is almost no way around this. Every engineer is going to struggle with this back-and-forth when they attempt to apply concepts in written code, especially when these concepts are completely foreign. I, for one, experienced this heavily for the first few years of my programming experience and many seasoned developers would say the same.
But at The Iron Yard we have a plan and a method that works – you see:
One benefit of our program is that we have a balanced approach between teaching a student concepts and demanding execution. Through consistent execution (i.e. a ton of practice) we’ll get as much of that sh*tty code out of your system as possible.
This give-and-take, this “up-and-down” experience, if you will, is helpful to remember as a student because, as a natural result, you learn to recover and regroup after a very difficult day. You will learn to pull yourself together, rather than being harder on yourself or beating yourself up.
The Iron Yard demands patience and knowing when to have a beer, get outside for a minute, walk dogs, call friends, or see a loved one. That kind of self-care and patience with your progress is incredibly important. Especially for the moments where you feel like you’re not getting it.
When I talk to prospective students I’m interested in their motivation and their commitment, but I’m equally interested in how they take care of themselves. Emotional resilience is quality number one. If we can avoid burnout and have some empathy, then we all will excel, together.