Last week at our full-company get together, each person was asked to say two things to the group: 1. What do you want to get better at? 2. What do you want to learn?

Unfortunately I was out sick and unable to participate, but I heard it was a great session. Had I been there, here’s what I would have said.

1. I want to be a better teacher. I feel like I’ve been guilty of “drive-by teaching” over the last year or so. Someone will show their work and I’ll see an opportunity to make it better. But instead of spending time with that person to teach them what I see and how to make it better, I’ll drop some quick comments in Campfire (or IM or email) and then just move on. Things like “That sentence is a bit wordy – let’s try it this way” or “I think there are too many horizontal lines going on here… Can you remove some?” It’s not that the comments aren’t useful, it’s that I drop them and move on. That’s not teaching, that’s just critiquing and suggesting and that’s not going to help people get better. Teaching is about encouraging understanding — and patience. I want to be a better teacher. I’m going to be working on that this year.

2. I want to learn Rails. I’m surrounded with some of the best Rails programmers in the world, yet I’m mostly clueless when it comes to Rails. That’s gotta change. It’s time to get a good basic understanding of Rails. I’ve always enjoyed what little programming I’ve done. Be it back in the day with FileMaker (that’s barely programming, but it let me make programs I wanted), or what little PHP I knew. It’s a constant frustration for me that I can’t make my designs work on my own. I can design it, but I just don’t have the knowledge to hook it up. I also believe learning Rails will make me a better designer. First step: I signed up for the Getting Started with Ruby on Rails tutorial at Windy City Rails. I’m really looking forward to it.

Those are my two things. What are yours?