What is Python Unbound? Learn from My Journey Back to Code after 20 Years

What is Python Unbound? Learn from My Journey Back to Code after 20 Years

python unbound
image above generated using NVIDIA GauGAN2 AI Art Tool: http://gaugan.org/gaugan2/

I have a love and hate relationship with coding and technology. I never considered it as a career path, but I’ve always engaged in them as hobbies in some form or another. 

Learning Python helped change my perspective and showed me how much the field has changed – both by dramatically expanding and evolving entire new fields that didn’t exist when I first explored coding. This blog will serve to chronicle my learning and experiences returning back to the field after almost 20 years – and cover topics from my unique perspective along the way. I am starting this blog to share about my journey and what I learn along the way. First, let me tell you about myself and my story.

Who am I

My first interest in technology and computers began back in 1998. When I was 13 years old, I took a computer apart and put it together again and tried to figure out why it didn’t work. I never figured that puzzle out, but that curiosity drove me to want to learn more. I entered college as a Computer Science major. When I first entered college, coding wasn’t as accessible as it is today. It wasn’t as easy to learn or troubleshoot errors in your code. The early classes I took turned me off from coding for numerous reasons. I decided to pursue a different degree, but there were always things that brought me back to coding in various ways.

Graduating college in 2008

stock market chart

I graduated college 2008. Graduating during the housing market collapse was a difficult experience. Work was hard to come by. I worked multiple odd jobs for six years after college. I made ends meet, but wasn’t financially independent. I cut and produced videos, developed websites using CMS tools, dabbled in PHP, CSS, SQL, and a few other languages, and did various odd-jobs. 

I got hired to teach History at an urban public high school in 2014. This experience was challenging, wrought with stress, but it was the first time I was able to be financially independent. I threw myself into the work as I valued the independence it brought me more than anything else. I lost touch with a lot of my passions and disconnected from communities that mattered to me. I spent most of my off time trying to escape the constant stress and pressure. I stuck it out for four years to keep the independence I had earned, but the work was far less than fulfilling and I was looking for something different.

New opportunities

When an opportunity arose in my school to transition into a different role, I did. Instead of teaching, I began to manage student technology, digital systems, and data reporting for a urban high school of 900 students. I initially developed tools for managing inventory and reporting on student data using Google Sheets and Google Data Studio. These tools solved many problems, but their limits presented many more and led me to want to learn more about how we can use code to understand the story behind larger sets of data. Once again, something pulled me back to code.

How I got started with Python

Probably the biggest opportunity I had came about as the result of school closures due to COVID. I got my first serious break from work in many years. During the first two weeks of closure in my district, administration was not allowed to talk to teachers, largely because of an agreement with our union. This allowed me to reflect on my experience and consider bigger questions. Where am I headed? What is my goal / what am I trying to achieve? How do I get there? What is currently in my way of getting there? All of these questions led me to one conclusion – I need to learn a field that will support the work I am doing now and help me reach for something greater.

I signed up for a Data Science class and began my journey learning Python after researching the field of data science. I had casually heard of Python and had a limited amount of exposure to it. I was aware of the role of machine learning and algorithms in daily life, but had never quite explored it as an option for a career. The course covered everything from Python Basics to Machine Learning algorithms and AI. It helped me see the possibilities that are out there now in the fields of technology and coding in a way I had considered before – and it re-ignited a passion I haven’t had in many years.

COVID-19 and Education

I want to also say something about how COVID impacts teachers and people who work in education. School closures due to COVID impact everyone. Students lost critical learning time and social connection. Teachers were asked to do and learn more in the past two years than during my entire tenure in the field, going back 13 years. All of this came at a cost – sometimes one that is far far higher than it should be. We’ve lost colleagues, students have lost family members, whole communities have been shook in ways that will have long-lasting impacts. Educators have put so much more of themselves into their work than they had before and put in impossible situations having to decide between our safety, the education of the students we care about, and the job that so many of us love.

My experience during COVID

As the person in charge of student technology at our school, I had my hands in everything. I was organizing educators into trainings so they could learn Google Classroom. I developed and implemented entire reporting systems to track how remote learning was going. I personally setup and issued laptops to scholars, sometimes delivering them to their homes. I also saw everything – and began to see how problematic the education system is in this country.

I don’t want to give any platitudes about how courageous teachers are or how people in our field did this or that important thing to “help keep the country going” or some other nonsense. We all struggled through the pandemic, we still are today. It is having impacts on everyone – in every job – and some workplaces more than others. No one should be put on a pedestal, but we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respected as human beings for what we do. I don’t think this has been the case for *most* working people during the pandemic – and educators in particular have often been forced back under unsafe conditions and promised things that weren’t delivered. As I write this, numerous fellow teachers in my school are quarantining, countless students and families have been effected, and the numbers just continue to rise. 

There are countless stories of this all over the country – if we are willing to look. This experience taught me one thing more than anything else – in moments of crisis, we will be asked to pay a price and see little gain from it. For me, its time to make a move – and so I am working on projects like this blog to help build my path into a new career.

Content Goals for Python Unbound

My goal in running this blog is two-fold: I want to help others connect to code in ways that de-mystifies the field and have a platform to express some of what I have learned, its meaning, and the stories that data can help us see. This blog is meant to put this goal front and center – sharing what I’ve learned about Data Science & coding and to do so in ways that help relate the content to everyday people – Python Unbound. Over time, I will expand to cover more coding languages and topics.

Future posts will share various aspects of what I’ve learned / learning. Subscribe below to get emails whenever a I post something new – and you might just learn something useful!


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