Follow-up Task from Global Review Meeting: Adapt coaches guidelines for learners


(bettina) #1

Hi @robert,

just to give a status update on the task re: Adapt coaches guidelines for learners: @starkcoffee and I are meeting on Saturday to go over my rough draft. They will probably not be ready for the OTS workshop immediately afterwards, but we will try :smiley:

Thanks for following up!


(Robert Lehmann) #2

Care to present them at the Community Call on Monday?


(bettina) #3

@robert - On Mondays I have plans already.

However, I will paste it in here cc @starkcoffee Please keep in mind that it’s a first draft and has gone through no edits; more like a brain dump.
Edited to add: I typed out things I would say but I had in mind more of a slide format for this, so I would bullet point the big ideas rather than have so much text.

I specifically want some help with the community aspect. I focus a lot on having the right mindset to learn and get over being ignorant and lost, but I also want to focus on the community aspect of OTS. I thought someone more from a coaching perspective could help.

Also, I put in some "DON’T"s that sound kinda negative and would like to phrase them positively and not in my usual too-direct manner.

Feedback welcome!


Learners’ Manifesto

Suggestion for a learning mindset

  1. Destigmatize discomfort.

You’re here to learn. That means, you don’t know everything. If you do, you can coach!
That also means, there might be concepts where you don’t know, where you struggle, where there is discomfort.
That is ok.

Look around you. You are not alone. We’re all here to learn. We’re all here to go from zero SQL knowledge to a little bit more SQL knowledge.
So it’s normal to feel uncomfortable when you’re learning.

Even your coaches once upon a time had same or even less knowledge about SQL than you. So it’s ok to feel frustrated and uncomfortable and not the “smartest” in the room about SQL. And most likely your coaches are STILL learning about SQL. This is actually what I find so cool about the tech world: there’s always more to learn.

Not knowing is normal and natural, almost expected. Everyone feels like this once in a while. This is where you belong.

  1. Neutralize negative thoughts.

It’s ok to make mistakes. Pros do so too!
It’s ok to take breaks.
Any critical thoughts you have is like graffiti on the wall, radio murmurs, and electrical impulses.
Pay only attention to the thoughts that serve you.

  1. Persist using your reason why.

Knowing why you’re here for this afternoon can keep you going through the hard times.

So WHY do you want to learn?

I want to live in the future. One of my favorite thinkers about technology, Alan Kay, said: The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
So that’s why I do this: I want the future of technology to be diverse and welcoming.
What you can envision and describe can be built.

slides from #codingbecause

Practical Tips:

  • Ask questions. Rephrase questions if the answer you get you don’t get. There are no dumb questions.
  • If it’s something you’re not sure you get, explain it back to the coach in your own language to check if you really got it.
  • You may not know much about SQL, but you are an expert in how you learn. Ask for a drawing if you learn best visually. Ask for an example or a metaphor.
  • Typing IS also learning. Type on your own keyboard even if your coach has to spell out what to type so that you learn where backticks, open brackets, and other programming-only keys are and what they’re called.
  • There is no “behind.” The coaches and community 100% support you in going through the material at a pace that feels right to YOU.
  • Learning is more important than getting through all the material at hand. If you chart your own way by taking ‘detours’, you are directing your own learning. That’s a useful skill too.
  • At OTS we create a welcoming environment for hands-on, experiential learning at your own pace. Learn through exploration.
  • You may have zero knowledge about SQL but you have infinite intelligence.
  • Whatever you make today is great! And beautiful. You really CAN do it.
  • Coding is collaboration.
  • Coaches are not perfect. They may not know everything. They could be accidentally insensitive, laughing at questions or rolling their eyes. or they could be inappropriately hitting on people or advertising their own companies. This is NOT ok. Feel free to call them out ?
  • Most programmers have preferences for tools and languages, just like anyone. Don’t ask them for their preferences, however, as they may lead to an outright war between coaches! ?
  • Do not put up with ego-centric personalities or downer attitudes.
  • Reaching the mountaintop is rewarding because it is hard.

OTS Newsletter - March 2016
OTS Newsletter - March 2016
OTS Newsletter - March 2016
(bettina) #4

Hi @robert and @starkcoffee - Thanks so much for your support so far!

I am going away for a whirlwind trip to NYC and Texas on Saturday for 10 days and will not work on the Learners’ Guidelines until I come back.

Just fyi.

See you around!


Community Call #15.9
(bettina) #5

OTS Learners’ Manifesto.pdf (977.9 KB)

Here’s my revised version incorporating the learners’ feedback from early September. As soon as you all here give me feedback, I will incorporate it and put it into the OTS branded slides.

cc @starkcoffee @robert


(bastianalbers) #6

I think this is great, you pretty much nailed it on all the slides. The last few “Beware of ‘helpful’ behavior” slides sligthy rub me the wrong way, though. I can’t completely say why yet, but i think the whole slide set ends a bit too much on the defensive side here.

I’m not saying these should not be in there, but maybe in a different order or a bit more compact, don’t know. I feel like this might prime learners against coaches a bit too much, maybe? But then again this is exactly the kind of coaching/learner behavior we want to get rid off, so maybe it’s not too bad.

But overall these are great guideline for learners, thanks @bettina


(bettina) #7

Thanks so much for looking over my slides and giving me your feedback @bastianalbers

You pinpointed exactly where I’m uncomfortable: how to address potential unhelpful behavior without pointing fingers. @starkcoffee showed me that addressing it with humor helps, which I copied by copying her names for these behaviors, but in a written document it’s hard to get that tone across. Maybe if I included her cartoons in there it would help?Should I leave one or more slides out to make it more compact?

It would be great if other coaches can give me some feedback here…@xmartin @robert @ellen @anaketa @Autarc and anyone else you think might be interested in helping here.


(Martin Stadler) #8

Spontaneous feedback:

I do like the full manifesto pasted above with the explanations and examples. For me using only the tag lines like in the slides doesn’t bring the message across that well. Maybe because the wording is sometimes quite playful and needs the context to work.

I’m confused by the “internal:” thing.

I also feel uncomfortable about the very negative last part. I would put things in a positive way if possible. Like: “Coaches will not touch your keyboard because we believe you’re learning by doing and it’s ok if you need your time. You may of course ask a coach to type something for you if you want.” Or: “At OpenTechSchool we try to help each other with the tasks we’re trying to accomplish and avoid pointless discussions like language X is better than language Y without context”. And maybe just at the end encourage people to call out non-compliant behavior.


Communication infrastructure
(bettina) #9

Hi @xMartin : Thanks so much for your feedback. I guess the humor really doesn’t come out on slides/text and framing it in the positive behavior v. shaming the negative behavior is definitely more inclusive. I would love to have more coaches share their opinion on this part, because it is a hot topic.

As for calling out non-compliant behavior, can I list the event organizer as a contact person in case the learners don’t feel comfortable calling out this behavior? I’m hoping that more coaches will have time to give feedback after WTF is over.

Instead of the manifesto I went with the slide format based on the learners’ meetup feedback, because 1. no one reads and 2. the coaches’ guidelines are also in slide format.

“Internal” in this context means mindset/attitude whereas “external” is with others. Good point, maybe I just use “mindset” or “attitude” here.


(bettina) #10

Here’s the revised version, updated with feedback from @xMartin @chiara @nicolai on Monday.

What do you all think? @starkcoffee @anaketa @bastianalbers @robert @ben and everyone else!

Learners’ Manifesto

Suggestions for an optimal learning mindset

  1. De-stigmatize discomfort.

You’re here to learn. That means, you don’t know everything. If you do, you can coach!
That also means, there might be times when you don’t understand concepts, when you struggle, when there is discomfort.

That is ok.

Look around you. You are not alone. We are all here to learn. We are all here to go from zero knowledge to a little bit more knowledge. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable when you’re learning, because you’re doing something new.

Even your coaches once upon a time had same or even less knowledge than you. So it’s ok to feel frustrated and uncomfortable and not the “smartest” in the room. And most likely your coaches are STILL learning. This is actually what I find so cool about the tech world: there’s always more to learn.

Not knowing is normal and natural, almost expected. Everyone feels like this once in a while. You belong here.

  1. Neutralize negative thoughts. Learn for yourself.

It’s ok to make mistakes. Professionals, those who get paid to code, make mistakes too! No one, absolutely no one, is perfect.
There are no expectations on you to perform in any way; our only expectations are that you play, explore and have fun!
It’s ok to take breaks.
Any critical thoughts you have is like graffiti on the wall, radio murmurs, and electrical impulses.
Pay only attention to the thoughts that serve you.

  1. Persist using your reason why.

Knowing why you’re here can keep you going through the hard times.

So WHY do you want to learn?

For me, I want to live in the future. One of my favorite thinkers about technology, Alan Kay, said: The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
So that’s why I do this: I want the future of technology to be diverse and welcoming.
What you can envision and describe can be built.

slides from #codingbecause

  1. You are in control of your learning.

Help your coaches understand what you want to learn and how you like to learn. Coaches are here to learn how to coach, so give them the feedback on how best to help you learn.

Try to type everything. Typing is also learning. Type on your own keyboard even if your coach has to spell out what to type so that you learn where backticks, open brackets, and other programming-only keys are and what they’re called.

Even if some coaches are so eager to help, try to take time to explore on your own.

Most programmers have preferences for tools and languages, just like everyone. Don’t ask them which ones are the best, however, as they may lead to an outright war between coaches. Especially if you’re beginning to code, focus on learning without getting too deeply into the tool choice. If you are still interested, however, in the “best” tools and languages, try to get a range of different opinions.

Coding is collaboration, and Open Tech School is a co-learning community. Help your coaches become better coaches! Lean on your fellow learners. Come back as a coach or organizer!

Practical Tips:

  • Ask questions. Rephrase questions if the answer you get you don’t get. There are no dumb questions.

  • If it’s something you’re not sure you get, explain it back to the coach in your own language to check if you really got it.

  • You may have zero knowledge about the technology but you have infinite intelligence.

  • You may not know much about the technology, but you are an expert in how you learn. Ask for a drawing if you learn best visually. Ask for an example or a metaphor if that works better for you.

  • Typing IS also learning. Type on your own keyboard even if your coach has to spell out what to type so that you learn where backticks, open brackets, and other programming-only keys are and what they’re called.

  • There is no “behind.” The coaches and community 100% support you in going through the material at a pace that feels right to YOU.

  • Learning is more important than getting through all the material at hand. If you chart your own way by taking ‘detours’, you are directing your own learning. That’s a useful skill too.
    – Reaching the mountaintop is rewarding because it is hard.

  • At OTS we create a welcoming environment for hands-on, experiential learning at your own pace. Learn through exploration. Whatever you make today is great!
    – Coding is collaboration, and Open Tech School is a co-learning community. Help your coaches become better coaches! Lean on your fellow learners. Come back as a coach or organizer!

No racism, no sexism, and no discriminating behaviour will be tolerated.
Don’t look away!
If something seems off, just ask and take care of each other.
If you need help, please contact the event organizers.