Becoming a Coach

You heard about Rails Girls Summer of Code and want to be a coach for a team? Here you’ll find all you need to know about what coaching actually means.

What it takes to be a coach

  • Patience and an open mind
  • Some experience in coaching
  • Time for coaching during office hours

First of all, coaches are patient, tolerant and open people! Our students are people with various coding levels (everything from novice to medium), as well as diverse backgrounds, mentalities, mindsets and goals. We want this to be considered and respected.

Ideally, potential coaches have some experience in coaching already - either from a coding event (like a local workshop), or from guiding junior developers at work.

For your students, learning the process will be more important than learning the tools; whatever gets them started, curious and eager to learn is a perfect tool, no matter your personal preferences. Keep in mind that your preferences – just like the "common knowledge of the community" – are the result of a long, long learning process which you, and the community, have gone through. Give your students the same chance to discover. Our goal is to get people started, learning and staying excited about coding!

Why should I be a coach?

We think that coaching will help you to:

  • give back to the community
  • share your knowledge
  • improve your work as a programmer

There are a lot of good reasons to become a coach. First and foremost, you will be giving back to the community for a great cause: by empowering women to contribute to open source. It's a great way to share your knowledge. We also believe that coaching can be really rewarding for your own work, that it can improve the way you write code and help you grow as a developer, as well as make you think about concepts you take for granted. And above all, we promise you an overwhelming buzz looking into the happy faces of your students when they succeed.

Can I coach remotely?

The short answer is: Yes!

We highly recommend that students and coaches spend their summer of code in one location, ideally sharing one workspace. We believe that sitting together in front of a screen with your team to help them solve problems or explain concepts is often more beneficial (and easier), both to new and seasoned learners. Sometimes, this just isn't possible — and that's when remote coaching becomes a good, alternative solution.

What will I be doing as a coach?

  • Going over the basics if needed
  • Guiding students through coding steps
  • Showing how to debug and troubleshoot
  • Showing students the way to a solution

It is important for coaches to teach the process of programming - showing the way to a solution rather than telling the answer. This will sometimes include going over the basics, showing how to debug and troubleshoot, or discussing concepts on paper. Coaches should spend time with their students, guiding them through the relevant coding steps (eg. by asking mindful questions). Every project is different; just make sure your students really understand what you are trying to teach them, at the risk of not being DRY :)

While we know that sometimes life gets in the way and that unexpected events happen: We really encourage all coaches supporting a team to try their hardest to commit, and not to drop out of the program halfway through. Your support is essential for teams to succeed!

Should I have in-depth knowledge of the project(s) chosen by my team?

In-depth knowledge of the project(s) chosen by your team is not required. However, we do expect you to have some expertise in the technologies used in the project. We also recommend getting acquainted with the project’s technical design and codebase once your team is accepted in the program.

How much time does coaching take?

  • 1-2 hours a day during office hours
  • Availability via chat or email, for important/urgent matters

During the period of the Summer of Code (July-September 2017), we recommend around 1-2 hours a day of personal time plus chat or email. If it works best, in-person coaching can be "blocked" to a whole day or afternoon a week, making it easier for you to combine it with your day-to-day work.

Coaches are not expected to work together with their students full-time! But from a student's perspective, as they will constantly run into problems they need help with, it is best for them and their progress if they have a coach at hand most of the time, which is why we recommend that coaching be shared between a few coaches. Each team must have at least 2 coaches, but is allowed to have more.

We also encourage you to ask your company to become a Coaching Company.

Ways to find a team and register as a coach

  • Register as a coach on our Teams app
  • Reach out to local Rails Girls/PyLadies/WomenWhoCode/etc. chapters
  • Get in touch with local developer user groups and study groups
  • Write an email on the RGSoC community mailing list
  • Spread the word on Twitter

As a first step you can register yourself as a coach on our Teams app; just log in with GitHub and, under “My Account > Edit”, select what you're interested in helping with (as a coach or as a remote coach/helpdesk).

If you don't know any students yet, reach out to your local female developer initiatives like Rails Girls, PyLadies or whatever is available in your city and fits your technology stack. There you can get to know students and other coaches. We also recommend reaching out to local developer user groups, as well as study groups (if there are any in your area).

We also have a Rails Girls Summer of Code community mailing list: send an email introducing yourself, specifying your areas of expertise and location, and offering to become a coach. Additionally, you can spread the word on Twitter mentioning @RailsGirlsSoC and we'll retweet and help you connect to students.

If you have any further questions, drop us a line at contact@rgsoc.org.