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In the Bootcamp Classroom: A Day at Launch Academy

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What does a typical day at Launch Academy actually look like? Will you sit in a lecture hall? A computer lab? How many people will be in your class? Will you work independently? And most importantly, when is lunch (Lunch Academy)? 

It’s probably best to start with the flipped classroom approach, used in every Launch Academy cohort. In short, a flipped classroom means that lectures take place outside of class hours, and classroom time is spent building things with your peers and instructors. 

We’ve found that the best way to teach web development effectively is through a unique philosophy that emphasizes challenge-based learning in a simulated work environment. You won’t pick up the concepts solely by reading about them or watching someone else apply them. 

You just do it.

The “typical Tuesday” actually starts Monday night (we meant it when we said immersive!) when you’re exposed to a new skill, concept, or tool. The idea here isn’t to get you to a point where you’ve mastered the topic. It’s a starting point for the next day’s learning, when we’ll address your questions and allow you to apply the concepts you’ve learned in a meaningful context. Many students choose to stay late at Mission Control (aka on campus) Monday evening to complete this step, working through the new material with their peers.

When you arrive on Tuesday morning, you’ll start your day by meeting with your mentor group—a small team of eight to 10 peers who you’ll meet with every morning for the first six weeks of your cohort. During mentor group sessions, you’ll review the topic from the previous night by presenting and discussing the challenges you faced and the topics needing more clarification, etc. You can bounce ideas off each other and solidify concepts collaboratively. Our Experience Engineer team leads our mentor groups, with one EE mentor per group. Mentors are present each morning to guide the sessions, elaborate on any concepts the group is struggling with, and answer questions. 

After your mentor group meeting, the entire cohort will come together for a facilitation. During these sessions, one of our Senior Experience Engineers will dive deeper into the day’s topic. You’ll learn more about real-life applications, advanced syntax, nice-to-know tips, and other related topics. Every facilitation concludes with a Q&A session where students are encouraged to ask about any concepts that still require clarification. 

After the facilitation, you’ll be given a real-world challenge problem—and you’ll be required to use the knowledge you’ve just learned (as well as everything else you’ve learned up to that point) to solve it.  

But before you tackle the day’s challenge, eat some lunch! If you’re in a Boston cohort, sample Downtown Crossing’s many restaurants, the culinary highs and lows of nearby Chinatown, walk to the food trucks at Dewey Square, or go to the Launch fridge and grab the sandwich or leftovers you brought from home. If you’re in Philly, check out the many restaurants in and around nearby Rittenhouse Square, Center City (especially Reading Terminal Market), and Chinatown. 

Now that you’ve got some food in your belly, it’s time to tackle the day’s challenge. Many choose to work in pairs and collaborate, which we encourage. (This is good practice for pair programming at your first web developer job, too.)  

Throughout the afternoon, Launchers also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with an EE during daily Office Hours. This is a great opportunity for more direct attention and help if you feel you need it.

Typically, there is also an optional afternoon clinic each day. During this time, one of the EEs will lead a discussion on a particular topic, program, or concept for any Launchers interested in attending. A clinic could cover How to Build a Rails API, Data Visualization and Charting, Analytics/Marketing/UX, or Advanced Javascript. Topics covered in daily clinics are designed to complement the core Launch Academy curriculum. 

By the time you’ve completed the day’s challenge, you’ll be really comfortable with the new material. Good thing, too, because the cycle starts over again the next day! The new material you’re about to dive into in the evening builds on everything you’ve just learned. 

Hopefully that gives you a sense of what an average day looks like at Launch. If you want to learn more about our instructional philosophy, mentor groups, pair programming, or anything else that crosses your mind, let us know! We’re here to help.

Jim Bruno is a former senior member of the Launch Academy marketing team.

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