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Thinking about Running a Coding Program? Top Tips from Javier Iglesias

By May 1, 2017

By: Valerie Brokamp-Meza, Employee Engagement Manager,

A growing number of technology companies run volunteer led coding programs at their offices to help support young people throughout their STEM journeys. These programs, usually aimed at school-goers range from teaching the basics of Scratch, right the way up to teaching Javascript and other programming languages used today at enterprise level to develop business apps and products.

Getting from the point of thinking about running a coding program to actually launching it, can be a slow and often daunting task. There are many questions you might ask – do we need to have parental consent, should we work with a school, where should we get the materials, how many volunteers etc.. – you’re not alone in this, every company goes through the same process.

Coding MouseAt Salesforce Madrid, the team has been running coding classes for 25 young people since May 2016, supported by Salesforce volunteers. They were lucky to have the support of other Salesforce offices who were already running programs to help them get started, as well as some seriously dedicated volunteers and evangelists. Now this team is sharing their knowledge and supporting other companies who want to run coding programs through their Teaching the Teachers program, led by Javier Iglesias, Senior Director of Solution Engineering at Salesforce.

The team has welcomed a number of companies to partake in the program, including Accenture Spain, and also sent Salesforce mentors out to some of those companies to help with their first Dojos. We asked Javier to share some of his top tips and pearls of wisdom for starting a company Dojo.

Top Tips for Starting a Coding Program – Javier Iglesias

  1. Don’t be afraid about starting a Dojo – it’s very easy and fun!
  2. It’s more important to have mentors with open attitudes than coding gurus.
  3. If you knew anything about COBOL or older programming languages, please forget them 😉 
  4. Kids are very knowledgeable about new technologies. They learn really quickly and are familiar with many different types of devices. As a mentor you only need to guide them – you don’t need to be the master of masters.
  5. Check the local laws and rules regarding dealing with kids. e.g. school rooms must be kept open during classes when adults are involved, etc.
  6. For a class of 12 ninjas (kids) we recommend 4 mentors – a 1:4 ratio is recommended. 
  7. Ask the more advanced kids to mentor the newer ones. CoderDojo champions peer based learning.
  8. Be sure to keep gender and diversity equality across classes.
  9. Practical classes tend to work best, and I’d suggest to mix things up with activities like robotics (arduino, raspberry, etc.).
  10. Don’t forget to have fun!

Ready to start your own coding initiative? Be bold, be daring and take on the challenge, you won’t regret it!

Learn more about STEM initiatives here >