The Very First Sprint | Introducing Students to Agile Development

Week two! After a heavy injection of JavaScript at the beginning of the week, we turn randomly selected teams loose on their group project. It’s exciting to see a cohort dive into their first group assignment. They find their real estate either in the hackery or in the classroom, roll their whiteboards over to begin organizing, and really get their first glimpse into what a career in software development will look like. Cohort 19 has the added benefit of learning sprint methodologies from their first project on, something we haven’t done since at least Cohort 9.

Fairly early in Cohort 7, stand ups became a familiar string threading through our mornings. We never went into full sprint mode; however, we did have impressions of what sprints entailed especially during the school’s site overhaul. For the current cohort we are introducing these procedures very early so students will have planned and participated in at least one full sprint by the beginning of their server-side segment. Our objective involves injecting sprint concepts sequentially into each group project where we can imprint the process upon our apprentices.

As the class works through their static web milestone group project, we introduce stand ups, project management via github projects, and generic ticketing. When asked about the effectiveness of the team’s project management board during their final stand ups before presentations, most groups can assert they used these planning tools to their advantage. The commonality of groups that did not productively use their project boards stems from a lack of sufficient initial planning in every case. These are the kinds of patterns we look for to heighten the learning experience and strengthen students’ insights.

Initially, planning can be one of the most difficult practices for students to embrace at the onset of this program. By slowly introducing these sprint methodologies over the course of the next five group projects we can help students start planning like seasoned developers. Their next project will expand on ticketing by enforcing the use of issue tickets for every piece of work that will be completed. By their final group project our newest developers will be employing product, feature and issue tickets, having daily stand ups and completing the project with a review and retrospective.

The value in teaching the sprint mechanism early becomes apparent once students hit the server-side. After a two-week orientation of server-side foundations, they will work in a completely agile driven software development environment, breaking into teams and participating in one sprint after another until their final capstone projects. An added benefit is that students can speak not only to the technological experience they’ve acquired, but also to a remarkably refined group process when potential employers engage them on demo day. My goal is to help teams integrate these processes into their workflow prior to the back-end so they can focus more intently on learning language syntax and server-side concepts.

For more on Cohort 19’s journey, read Back To The Front | The First Week of a coding bootcamp.

Greg Korte is a graduate of Cohort 7 and is currently a teaching assistant for Cohort 19.

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