At our most recent Rochester Ruby meeting, I facilitated a mini coderetreat. My grand plan was to get a feel for the job before the day of #gdcr13. Luckily for me, I had just taken Jim Hurne's excellent training and I felt like I was prepared with plans and printouts.
I was not terribly surprised to discover that my initial planning was a waste of time. During Jim's training, he was very clear that carrying some index cards and making notes while you observe is helpful. At the meeting, we had time for 2 sessions, and I was completely blown away. The process of observation during the session was just amazing.
It wasn't until I was looking at their code, listening to them talk things through, and then watch the little successes and failures unfold that I started to get it. It wasn't until after everything that I understood how that makes me a better programmer.
Some of the attendees were new to OO, or eschewed OO, or thought they were grand masters but didn't seem to get OO at all. They didn't write a lot of code, and TDD was some kind of kryptonite hipster mountain they didn't want to climb.
For the 2nd session, we tried basic ping-pong. One team (out of 3) was having a really hard time. Nothing I said about "why TDD?" helped at all, until we talked a little bit about why OO.
I really focused on just asking questions as the only way to coach. It wasn't until I had to explain OO that I broke out of that, and I sat down with them to do it. It seemed to help. By the end of the session they had red -> greened their first tests of the night, probably ever. They at least acted like they were pretty happy about it too.
I am really looking forward to 12/14, hopefully with more surprises!
I am glad you liked the facilitation concept so much. Coderetreat is an event that triggers learning both for the participants and for the facilitators.
But I have just one observation: the concept of the code-retreat is a having day-long coding event. We care on not having names like "mini coderetreat", because the whole day concept gives a total different meaning to the practice. So please consider in naming these kinds of shorter sessions coding dojos or just coding practice sessions.
Have fun during GDCR13!
I'm glad you had such a great time facilitating. You are totally ready to facilitate a full-day coderetreat and I know you will do a great job!
If you have more thoughts like this one after December 14th, feel free to blog about them (and post the blog on this site, we'd love to share it with others).
"I really focused on just asking questions as the only way to coach." <-- I like this a lot! Thanks for posting.