TAing at a Canonical RailsBridge Workshop
Earlier this year I hosted a RailsBridge workshop. While it went well I definitely felt like it could have gone better. I decided that I would not host another one until attending one given by a more experienced leader. This past weekend I got to help out with one hosted by the very person who sparked my idea of hosting a RailsBridge in the first place, Desi McAdam. In terms of RailsBridge workshops they don’t get more experienced than her as she’s known to travel the world hosting workshops.
The environment was awesome. We had 10+ volunteers and so many attendees for the installfest we filled six offices at Bendyworks. There were so many attendees we killed their network (note to self put downloads on USBs). Some attendees may think of the installfest as a painful experience but I like to think of it as us generating a topic for the attendees to use to meet one another. Or at least as something for them to rally together against and revolt. To each their own.
At the end of the evening Desi got all the teachers together and used their feedback to organize the attendees in different experience groups. She also considered pairs of people that would enhance each others educational experience.
The second day we held the workshop at the Madison College. We had a huge room with about eight tables to subdivide the groups. Each table had its own teacher while Desi took on the role of floating and leading the class with introductions, shutting down the class etc.
I was charged with helping out the beginners. One good tip Desi gave me was not to take anything for granted. To even consider explaining exactly what’s happening when one types a url in to their browser and presses enter. This blew my mind as I consider myself to be pretty good a bridging the empathy gap but I guess the lesson here is we can always be more empathetic.
Other tips from the workshop
- Its essential to have TAs of various genders, races, and backgrounds. Their stories can serve as inspiration for those considering to join our community.
- With beginners each person works at their own pace so it was better to have two stopping points for the day rather than ensuring everyone is at the same spot all the time.
- You can change your tone and energy depending on the group you’re teach. An expert level technique in my opinion
UPDATE: It was kindly pointed out to me that the workshop was held at Madison College. That’s what I get for showing up a couple minutes late.