Where to go after year one
Once your Dojo has gotten past the ‘getting started’ phase and you’ve got some Ninjas who are really getting into coding, you should make some small tweaks to how you are running things.
Towards the end of your first year, or the beginning of the second, you will probably have some experienced Ninjas who have been coming to Dojo sessions for a while, and some newer Ninjas who are learning, or have just moved past, beginner-level skills. This generally means that in your sessions, you’ll have two or three groups that are learning different technical skills or working relatively independently on their own projects.
Ninjas should be encouraged, but not pushed, to move from one group into the next as they progress, eventually reaching the level of pursuing independent projects. Some of the more enthusiastic members of the ‘independent projects’ group may also be interested in becoming youth mentors and assisting at your Dojo. You should make them aware of this possibility and encourage their efforts to do so. Youth mentoring is both a great way for Ninjas to develop and share their knowledge, and a way to reduce the load on your adult mentor team!
Your mentors are vital to the running of your Dojo, and you need to make sure they’re not overworked or stressed. Most Dojos are always looking to find an extra mentor or two to ensure that if a mentor leaves (for whatever reason), the Dojo won’t be struggling to support its Ninjas. A successful and lively Dojo is great for getting potential mentors interested: if you can convince them to come along to a session to find out what it’s like, they’re usually hooked!
As well as watching out for your mentors and making sure they’re not overworked, you need to make sure that you’re not pushing yourself too hard, and that you’re not indispensable to the Dojo. You may suddenly need to step back, or even move away!
Therefore, you should try to find a co-champion among your mentors and other volunteers. This person will help you with some of the organising, and will know all the vital Dojo information you do, including:
- Email and social media passwords
- Champion status on the Dojo’s listing page on coderdojo.com
- Contacts and relationships with venues, sponsors, etc.