Reflection on a daily retrospectives

Posted by Marcus Hammarberg on May 31, 2019
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I have created a course, a boot camp to teach people to become programmers in 12 weeks. It’s quite amazing and you should apply if you want to change career. Check out Salt - School of applied technology

Obviously, that cannot be done. But we do it anyway. And we succeed - we get rave feedback from the places where our awesome students are working.

There are a few ingredients to the successes; people being highly motivated (I can write books about that) and mob programming are two of them.

But in this post, I wanted to write about something that I think stood out for me after observing 3 classes in a row now. And it’s something that you can do and get a lot out of too.

Memory lane

I think (hope) that everyone has a favorite teacher that they remember from their early school years. I do and his name is Ulf. He was my Math, Social sciences and Physics teacher. He was an amazing teacher in many ways but one thing that stands out in my memory is a quote from Ulf.

When we complained about doing a lot of math tasks over and over he said:

Repetition is the mother of all knowledge

I’ve used that quote many times but I’m starting to think that he got it a bit wrong. Now I would rather say:

Reflection is the mother of all knowledge

Just repeating gives you experience, reflecting over this experience gives you knowledge. (Hey - that was pretty good… I even found someone else that thought along those lines).

Let’s see how to put those ideas with a reflection into action. Fast repeating action.

The </salt> bootcamp setup

At </salt> each day look the same and we are running at an extreme pace. The days starts with a short lecture (20-60 mins) about a topic; HTML, Functional Programming, Docker or React components are examples (but check out the our topics here).

We have then mobs of 4 (sometimes 5) that will work together during the rest of the day, on a lab/task around the topic for the day. It’s pretty though and we are not expecting everyone to complete the task during the day. That’s ok - the goal is not to finish but to learn.

But moving at this extreme pace and still learn is very hard - so we have added reflection time to the schedule of each day.

Daily retrospective

Before each lecture, in the morning, we are requiring that the mobs meet and have a fika (we are in Sweden, so that’s kinda mandatory). More seriously they are required to do a daily retrospective.

This retrospective is very informal and basically answers two questions:

  • What did you learn yesterday? (go around the team and share)
  • How can we make today even better? (discuss and see what can be improved)

We are not looking to make any big changes, but rather just “Turn up the good” little by little. Every step is small and easy.

Conclusion

By nudging (pretty hard, I have to say) our teams to do daily retrospectives we are emphasizing and creating reflection on a daily basis. This turns their newly acquired experience into knowledge, in small, frequent and fast steps.

It’s proven very valuable to the learning for the </salt> students that, through this, learn faster and the learning stick better.


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Published by Marcus Hammarberg on Last updated