The “Reflect As You Work” pattern reminded me right away of the agile software development practice “inspect and adapt.” This practice is mentioned later in the writing as a more formal and specific version of this pattern, whereas an apprentice reflecting as they work involves self-analysis which encompasses all the projects they’ve worked on. The writers recommend periodically asking yourself whether your practices are up to date or becoming obsolete. They ask you to reflect on both the positives and the negatives about your current work, recognize how things got that way, and think about how the negatives could be improved. As one way of helping to apply this pattern, they suggest creating personal practices maps. Unfortunately the source they give for examples of this is gone, so I’m not sure what this ought to look like. I can take note of any changes in my approach as time goes on, however.
This pattern is all about maximizing the amount of useful information you get from your experiences, and utilizing it will make the difference between being an experienced developer and a skilled one; you can have lots of experiences without extracting much meaningful knowledge out of them. Therefore, the writers emphasize that your goal should be to become skilled, not experienced. I found the highlighting of this difference interesting, and it seems intuitively right that it’s possible to become experienced without gaining skill.
One of the authors is used as an example of the power of noticing and reflecting. He explained to his new teammates the pair programming technique the team used which hadn’t really been discussed, and which had simply emerged from their experiences. Once he’d noticed that this was a specific programming practice that should have a name, he blogged about it, and that quickly led him to writing columns for a prominent Software QA website. For me this connected to and reinforced broader lessons I’d already been taught about the importance of observation and noticing; the person who discovered the smallpox vaccine didn’t invent anything, just noticed that people who’d had cowpox didn’t get smallpox.
The author’s experience is also an example of another application of this pattern, which is to observe and reflect on the practices of other developers and adapt your own accordingly.
It’s already my natural inclination to reflect on what I do, so it should be no problem to incorporate this practice into my future profession.
In this Apprenticeship pattern “The Long Road”, it gives us an overview about “the journey” that an apprentice goes through to study, learn, and develop his own craft. Considering that there may be shortcuts towards mastering your craft, it always best to let the journey carry you as a developer because the little things you experience along the way will help you become better overall. Not only the experience is important, but it is also important to understand that there isn’t a literal “mastered” status for a developer where you stop learning or stop to further develop your craft. It is always ongoing because there will always be something new in the programming realm to learn and study for the simple fact that technology is always a growing and advancing industry.
“First, accept the fact that you may be considered a bit strange for what you want to become. Second, keep your focus on the long term. During your apprenticeship, value learning and long-term growth opportunities over salary and traditional notions of leadership. People aspiring to become masters of software craftsmanship need to plan for the long term. This long (yet bright) journey will bring you a rich set of abilities. You will become skilled at learning, problem solving, and developing strong relationships with your customers. You will come to wield knowledge and technology as the samurai uses his short and long swords. You will come to comprehend and appreciate the deeper truths of software development. But all this will take time.”
This idea stood out to me the most and it definitely changed the way I think about the journey on mastering my craft as a developer. Back when I was just learning my first programming language, which was C++, I thought that quickly becoming proficient proved that I was a “master” at it. Now I realized that wasn’t the case. After realizing this, the process of mastering a craft has to take time. The process can involve making mistakes, but that’s fine. For me as an individual, I learn best after I make the mistakes so I know what not to do and I know how to approach the problem the right way.
Considering that I do want to become a video game developer, this pattern also taught me that aspirations to be in leadership positions such as a manager or other promotional positions can get in the way of the learning and growth opportunities on becoming a master craftsman. Now when I approach the position of a video game developer, I’ll be sure to love the journey to grow and become the best developer and programmer I can be.
Our Software Development capstone course is very team intensive. I think it would be helpful to research ways I can improve as a contributor in a team-based environment. I’d like to discuss the Reflect As You Work apprenticeship pattern. A successful application of this pattern ought to not only improve myself as a teammate, but could help boost the overall efficiency of my team as well.
The authors assert we should be assessing our personal identities when applying this pattern. The goal is to identify relative connections in our life achievements. Also known as “Mind Maps,” drawing Personal Practice Maps is suggested as an effective way to evaluate ourselves.
The following is a template of a Personal Practice Map that I found on scrum.org:
I believe this type of mapping is beneficial not only for self-reflection, but for anyone reflecting as they work in any team environment.
One of the primary goals of Personal Practice Maps seems to focus on establishing connections between experiences and achievements. On somewhat of a personal level, these type of maps can also help us get to know more about our teammates. For instance, we can see the above template outlines many aspects of Susanne, including her goals and values, as well as her personal and professional life. A personal map such as this can help other teammates see what motivates each team member. Since many teams are likely to be considerably long lasting, I feel it is important to have a general layout of each teammate’s personal motivations. This is to help us reflect as we work, and Personal Practice Maps can assist in achieving this.
The authors describing the Reflect As You Work pattern remind us Personal Practice Maps can also be used to help identify potential roadblocks we are facing. For instance, we could use this type of diagram to map out projects we are working on. We could then look back at how we approached it. Perhaps there were techniques we used that could be improved. The more detailed a Personal Map is, the better we can use it to identify ways to improve our goals. We can then adjust our maps accordingly.
I’ve set a personal goal for myself to design a Personal Practice Map prior to entering my professional career. I believe it will be beneficial for me to evaluate my strengths, weaknesses, and areas that could use improvement. This ought to be a step in the right direction of personally applying the Reflect As You Work apprenticeship pattern.
This week, I read the apprenticeship pattern “Dig Deeper”, and as the title suggests, this pattern was about trying to gather a much lower level understanding of some of the tools and the libraries that we use daily. The author acknowledged the fact that you do not always need to be an expert in everything to get the job done, sometimes a superficial level of many technologies is more valuable. This pattern suggested that a superficial level of understanding is needed in times where you need to just get something working, maybe you have a deadline, or you are satisfied with the way the product performs. This pattern also did a fantastic job of highlighting the value of digging deeper.
Like many of the patterns in this book, if applied, they will make you more desirable as an engineer. This pattern will not always lead to you acquiring a new skill, but rather it will sharpen your skills and give you an understanding so deep that you may find new ways to use the tools that you’ve always been using, as well as finding new solutions to that problem that has been glaring at you. One personal experience that I’ve had with this pattern was during an internship. I’ve previously had a very basic understanding of REST, and for the most part, that was enough for me to get by, but I was eventually assigned a task that required knowing more than just the basic GET, POST, PUSH, and DELETE requests. This task forced me to dig deeper into rest to understanding things like authentication, query parameters, and other low level details. Having been forced to dig deeper, I now have a much better understanding of REST and with this understanding comes the freedom to write better APIs as well as being able to diagnose issues much more quickly.
I find this pattern extremely useful, and although it may not always be possible/viable to dig deeper when working on a project, I now believe that it is always worth it to make the effort because the benefits are almost always worth the time investment.
Sweeping the Floor is a saying for doing the dirty work that no one else wants to do. This pattern highlights what you can do to stand out as the new guy on the team and make yourself valuable to them. This pattern was an excellent read, you can read it yourself here: https://www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/apprenticeship-patterns/9780596806842/ch04s05.html
The pattern makes it obvious, almost every team has a job that no one WANTS to do. I have seen this at my own jobs. Things like cleaning, writing well thought-out documentation, and even answering the phone are some of the small tasks that people would rather not do. Step in and volunteer to do those tasks. This will enable you to gain trust and socialize with the team so you can get your foot in the door. The authors go on to talk about how there are some negatives to sweeping the floor. However, In my opinion they are all avoidable. These negatives would be getting stuck as the teams scrub (someone who they make do all the menial tasks and never ask more of), or you will be too intimidated to try and step out of your comfort zone. Both of these are avoidable by being more assertive once you’ve gained trust and a place on the team.
I really enjoyed this pattern because it will be extremely relevant to me in the upcoming future. I am applying to (what feels like) hundreds of jobs to try and join a team when I graduate. I know I will have to prove myself and this pattern has given me a way to do it. Take pride in the small jobs and do them well, this will help you make a stand in your team. The only thing about this pattern I didn’t like was the fact that they added consequences to it. I feel like that really brought down the overall inspiration of the pattern. The consequences weren’t on my mind when I was reading the pattern until, of course, I read that part. They should have stressed that you need to be confident in your abilities to learn and continue to try and climb the totem pole.
Overall, the pattern is an excellent inspirational read for someone who just joined a team and are looking to prove themselves. I can certainly see myself doing this in my future jobs.
This pattern is one among the many which I have drawn so much knowledge and think will go a long way to help me grow in my future employment activities as far as software development is concerned. Educationists will tell you that learning is a gradual process and I know it’s not going to end in the classroom when the time come and I am out of the classroom to the field to face the world. This pattern has just reaffirmed that learning is still going to take place afterward. It is really hard as David H. Hoover admitted to say you don’t know when they expect you to know what they are asking you to deliver. But for my own good I will not be tempted to give quick answers to questions that will put me in trouble later on. Again, this pattern has also given me the idea that as an apprentice, my goal is not to become an expert but that will come naturally as I go the journey and explore deep into an interesting areas of learning.
I strongly agreed with the point that when your answer questions, you become clarified of your own knowledge. This is true because, anytime I help someone do something or explain something to someone, I will never forget that subject again; that is stick in my head forever. I used to be shy to speech in public even if I know the answer but as I grow and become more familiar with difference group of people, things began to change. From then, anytime a question is asked in the mixed of people, I always try to be first to respond to it if only I have an idea of what is being asked because I know how it help me in understanding the scope of my knowledge better.
I have been trying to cherry pick these patterns but I realized going through all of them will help me more because, they are interconnected. So far, with what I have learned, all the patterns has something unique that I think if carefully adopted will go a long way to help me deal with all the problems I will be facing as an inexperience apprentice.
The context for this pattern, as described by the authors, is that you have found gaps in you skill set that are effecting your everyday work. The problem here is that your knowledge of essential tools and concepts is lagging behind that of your coworkers but you are expected to already have this knowledge as a prerequisite for being a productive member of the team. The authors explain that this particular pattern goes hand-in-hand with the “Expose Your Ignorance Pattern.” They stress the importance of adopting both of these patterns simultaneously as just adhering to one or the other can present problems of their own. For instance, by only exposing your ignorance and never confronting it you may end up in a constant state of ignorance and being overly dependent on other team members when it comes to completing essential tasks relating to the project at hand. On the other hand, if you only confront your ignorance without ever exposing it you may be missing out on valuable insights your team members could provide you not to mention the fact that you may spend too much time trying to learn specific concepts that could have been easily explained to you by a team member who already has the knowledge you are seeking. According to the authors, the solution to this problem is to “strike a delicate balance” between these two patterns in order to ensure you are learning the essential skills necessary for your role without wasting to much time and allowing you to be as productive as possible.
I found this pattern to be quite relatable in my current role as a Security Analyst. When I first joined the team I had very little knowledge when it came to essential information security concepts. For example, in security it is crucial to have a fundamental understanding of how the different layers in the OSI network model function. This can be quite overwhelming at first considering that each of the seven layers have different functionality along with a multitude of associated protocols that they must adhere to. Luckily my team has been really supportive in helping me gain the necessary knowledge and skills by giving me practice problems and either providing me the resources necessary to learn essential skills or pointing me in the right direction to where I can find helpful resources. I think up to this point I’ve been able to maintain a healthy balance of exposing and confronting my ignorance but the advice provided in this pattern will definitely be useful going forward.