While in London I’ve been lucky enough to attend 20 or so codebar events - over two summer internships. codebar is a weekly mentoring initiative with the goal of improving diversity in technology - for those who didn’t know. They’ve got a website that you can check out here.

Last year I tutored for HTML, CSS and Ruby - this year I’ve been tutoring with students working on their own Rails projects. During my time as a coach I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t know, ways to phrase some common sticking points, and more - here are some suggestions for getting the most out of being a codebar coach.

Getting In

The first step to being a coach is to qualify as an attendee - host offices have limited space and there’s only so much pizza to go round! Sign up to receive invitation emails for the meet up nearest you. Invitations are normally sent out mid-afternoon on a Friday and it’s a first come first served process.

Normally the event is full in a few hours for coaches - I’ve heard it can be an even shorter period for students. There is a waiting list but the only time I moved up the list enough to attend on a tube strike day!

What to Coach

Students attending say what they’re working on when signing up for the event, some work on codebar tutorials but more and more people are working on their own projects. When all the pizza’s gone students names and topics are called out and coaches volunteer to be paired up.

I’d recommend trying out tutoring on both the tutorials and projects.

Tutorials are good if you want to review the content beforehand or want to hone your explanations of a certain set of concepts. However, I found doing the same set of tutorials each week to be somewhat repetitive.

I think tutoring projects is much tougher, coming up against a wider range of concepts and problems further from the core issues is the best lesson around in what you don’t know. We’ve all read that working outside your comfort zone is the only way to learn. If this aligns with your thinking then give tutoring projects a go. It’s pretty tiring work but you’re set to learn about as much as your two students!


Summing Up

I also tutored Rails for a year at university, I’d say this mind dump is based on around 80-90 hours of tutoring Rails to absolute beginners. I can’t recommend it enough - you’ll get just as much out of it as your students - just don’t forget to bring a loud voice and as much energy as you can find! And, leave some room for pizza!