First Mile How To Get Help

Learning Goals

  • Know how to get help
  • Better understand the purpose of Ask A Question (AAQ) and how it works

Introduction

As you go through the labs and lessons here, you do much of the work on your own. While this isn’t a bad thing (time for independent thinking and debugging is necessary!), you are going to get stuck sometimes! As with any new skill you learn, coding can be difficult and frustrating. After a certain point, being stuck on a problem becomes counterproductive - you’re stuck and you need help getting unstuck!

Many aspects of learning are inherently social, and it helps to talk problems through with individuals who have experienced many of the same problems as you! That’s where Technical Coaches (TCs) come in.

Who are TCs?

TCs help students get unstuck and guide students through pair programming. TCs are a team of Flatiron graduates, so they are intimately familiar with Flatiron School's curriculum. Some are recent graduates, and some are currently at other development jobs outside of Flatiron. With this experience, they are perfectly suited to give you a nudge in the right direction! You’ll know you’re working with a TC if you see a blue Learn badge next to their profile picture.

Technical Coach

Get Help In Real Time

One of the great things about AAQ is the responsiveness of TCs - when TCs are online, you can generally expect to receive a response within a couple of minutes, provided that it isn’t very busy! While you can open a question in AAQ at any time of day, TCs are only available for certain hours of the day. TCs generally support students through chat in AAQ and through 20-minute pairing sessions over Zoom. You can ask a question by clicking the purple “Ask A Question” button in the top right of your current lesson or lab.

AskAQuestion

Questions must be related to the current lesson or lab that you are working on. AAQ does not support questions related to portfolio projects, code challenges, or other personal projects.

AAQ exists to help Flatiron students learn to debug their issues successfully. This gets easier with practice! Whenever possible, you should try to troubleshoot your issue independently first before seeking help.

Some examples of independent troubleshooting might look like:

  • Checking out Learn's help articles - these articles include advice and answers to frequently asked questions from the Flatiron School Team: help.learn.co
  • Reading the Readme thoroughly for the lab you’re on to make sure you’re not missing relevant details
  • Reviewing previous Learn lessons that may apply to the error or issue you’re experiencing
  • Googling your error or related concepts
  • Using debugging tools like Pry to understand your error better

That being said, sometimes you are just stuck and truly need a hand - if you have tried the above solutions for 20-30 minutes, please feel free to open a question! We are happy to help. This article provides some pointers on how to ask a question effectively.

Who We Serve

Technical Coaches provide support for the programs listed in this article. At any given time there may be 2-5 TCs online; staffing is based on how busy it typically is during that time of day. Sometimes it gets very busy in AAQ unexpectedly! At any given time, there may be anywhere from 1-15 active questions (sometimes more!). Please be patient with us as we try to help.

Why do Technical Coaches Not Give Out Answers?

The goal at AAQ is to help students learn how to think critically about code - this doesn’t happen if we give you answers directly! We use a few different general strategies to help accomplish this goal:

  • We use the Socratic method and other questioning techniques.
  • We may recommend that you Google certain concepts, or give you suggestions on terms to Google
  • We may provide you with additional resources on a relevant coding concept to supplement your understanding or help you to think about a problem differently
  • We may provide you with some pseudocode or guide you to construct some pseudocode yourself!

Conclusion

Ask A Question is here to help support you as you continue your journey to learn to code. While ultimately you must hold yourself accountable for learning the concepts in this course, and for developing your debugging skills as a programmer, we are here to support you! If you are stuck, do not hesitate to ask for help!

Resources

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Learn about Flatiron School's Mission

With a new take on education that falls somewhere between self-taught prodigy and four-year computer science degree, the Flatiron School promises to turn students with little programming experience into developers.

In the six months since the Manhattan coding school was acquired by WeWork, it has spawned locations in Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, and London. Now, WeWork is opening a fourth Flatiron School location, this time in Houston.

Adam Enbar, Flatiron School's cofounder, believes now is the time to grow. "How the world is changing has impacted working and learning in very similar ways. We think education fundamentally is about one thing: enabling people to pursue a better life."

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