From Special Ed Teacher to Technophile

This is a blog dedicated to my attempts to studying computer science and code by myself and recovering from an injury.  Many people have done it before me, and many people will do it after me.  So why blog about it?  In September, I was rammed into a wall while blocking a student from punching me, and he kept swinging.  I’m a special ed teacher who works with emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children, so I’m aware that getting physically assaulted sometimes happens when the best interventions and motivators weren’t successful for a multitude of reasons.  In this particular case, I had decided to intervene when the student was strangling himself after weeks of asking district administrators for advice on how to help him since I felt out of my specialty.  I was repeatedly told they believed in my professional judgment after I had told them that due to his self-injurious behaviors either I would be allowing him to harm himself or intervene and be harmed.  Neither of these scenarios were particularly appealing to me, and while we used a plethora of positive interventions that worked in some cases, a history of mental illness and abuse was not something that I could resolve within a few short weeks by modeling, coaching, and reinforcement.  This was indicated by a number of scars he had left on me prior to that day when he continuously banged his head on the wall, and I decided to intervene.

I ended up with a shoulder injury that limited my mobility in my right arm.  Thank goodness I’m left-handed.  The doctor pulled me out for 2 weeks, which as a fairly active person was very dull for me, and then once I was placed back I kept getting injured more severely and being pulled off work again.  After a few months of this, human resources decided to pull me out of the classroom occupied by a variety of sometimes physically aggressive children until my shoulder was up to snuff longer term and the district offered me light duty work reviewing student IEPs.  It’s not the most mentally engaging work, but I’m pretty good at it and it’s way better than being off work.  I’m just grateful to be working again.

Most people would be pretty thrilled to have had time off from work partially paid.  I was not.  My brain on boredom is very obnoxious, and I wasn’t capable of doing a majority of my previous hobbies anymore.  Prior to September, I had the following hobbies: swimming, rock climbing, paddle boarding, knitting, gaming, cooking, hiking, reading non-fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy books, attending all day concerts, board games and running with the dog.  After September, my hobbies included gaming for 15 minute intervals, attending short concerts, board games, reading, and walking the dog.  You’ll notice that list includes very, very few things physical and even decreased intensity of non-physical activities.  With rock climbing and gaming out, I needed something to keep my brain busy while my husband played League of Legends for hours without me, and making yarn replicas of Poros was getting a little awkward since my dexterity, as you can imagine, is fairly limited in the right hand in comparison to what it once was.

The solution?  Well, I’d spent the beginning of the year teaching my students basic programming as a way to bridge their disinterest in math and their struggle with accuracy and truth in math (read: they got pissed off if they solved a problem incorrectly, and pissed off for some of my students means very violent.  Long term, we’re working on realizing that learning comes from hard work and if mistakes are made it’s more important to realize why to grow from them, but short term safety is a priority.).  There’s something pretty amazing to just about anyone about making your own multiplication table for the first time using a nested while loop.  I had never really gone beyond the basics myself, however, and so I decided to take the time I once spent gaming, making winter hats, feeding myself, and exercising to learn a new skill.  My physical therapist, 3 months after the incident, put me at another 8-12 weeks away from being in reasonable shape, so that should give me plenty of time to put all my extra energy into healing and coding.  This blog is to keep a record of my progress in both.  So!  Without further ado…

12/19/2014 – I can make a multiplication chart in C++, and when the physical therapist moves my shoulder into the right position I can hold it where it belongs for about 10 seconds without using compensatory muscles.  I’m still pretty certain I’m doing many of my home exercises with my shoulder in the incorrect location, but I am trying my best to get it there!

To start, I’m using a few resources from to learn C++ to remember the basics of coding again, and then I’ll start accessing web design since I have an old domain I’ve owned since high school that could use some serious TLC and purpose again.

For anyone curious, here’s how to make a multiplication chart with C++ (or at least how I’ve been doing it!):

for (int i = 1; i <= 12; i++)
for (int j = 1; j <= 12; j++)
cout << i * j;

cout << endl;


Any recommendations are much appreciated!  I would love any suggestions about books about algorithms.


Lady Liu

From Special Ed Teacher to Technophile