Essentials Meetup Runbook

Essentials meetup runbook

This guide describes everything that needs to be considered when running an Essentials meetup covering the makeup of a lesson and how to create lesson plans for each lesson.

Meetup structure

An Essentials meetup is made up of the following individuals

  • Two hosts - The hosts are responsible for the planning and execution of an Essentials lesson. Their goal is to ensure the students achieve the learning outcome set for the lesson. Having two hosts ensures a more diverse range of experiences, whilst allowing each other freedom to share ideas and facilitate the room.

  • Students - Students are the primary attendees of the lesson. They are the primary focus of the learning outcome (mentor outcome may be added later). Ideally, the number of students will outnumber the other individuals in the lesson.

  • Mentors - The mentors are arguably students as well, but come to the lesson with prior experience and knowledge of the material. Mentors are there to learn more about leadership and mentoring skills by assisting the students in their learning. A ratio of 3 students to 1 mentor is ideal, however, based on location and context, this might not be achievable. If it’s not, tailor your lesson plan to work for a room that is predominantly students.

  • Facilitator (optional) - A facilitator supports the hosts with activities such as the timings of the lesson, providing materials for lessons, welcoming attendees, recording material for social media use, etc. This role is not essential but can make life easier for hosts. To find out more about facilitation, you can read this excellent guide written by Simon Tomes who has facilitated multiple lessons.

Building an Essentials meetup lesson plan

Rather than apply a set way of defining and teaching concepts around testing, the Essentials meetup enables hosts to build their own lesson plans. This allows hosts to plan activities that play to their teaching strengths and experiences. It also enables hosts to provide a teaching environment that matches the context of the people attending. For example, a host will need to consider:

  • Audience size - Depending on the size of attendees will determine whether big group discussions or smaller group discussions are better.

  • Student / Mentor ratio - Some events will have more or fewer Mentors attending. This may determine which exercises you choose to run.

These factors (and potentially others) will affect the best way to teach.

That said if you don’t feel confident creating a lesson plan or simply don’t want to. There are example lesson plans captured for each set of learning outcomes that you can find here.

Building a lesson plan

The purpose of a lesson plan is to capture and plan how the hosts intend to enable the students to achieve the learning outcomes of a lesson. Whilst the outcomes cannot be modified, how the hosts teach them can be. There are numerous things to consider:

  1. The structure of a lesson plan template
  2. The activity types to choose from

A lesson plan template will consist of the following key areas:

  1. Before the session - We have many introductory videos that help set the scene for a student before they join the lesson. You will want to plan what material you want the student to engage with before the lesson starts.

  2. Start / End time - To help keep track of what you can fit into a lesson. Typically a lesson runs from 6:30pm to 9:00pm.

  3. Outcome - As mentioned before, the host’s goal is to ensure that a student has achieved the identified learning outcomes for the lesson. Putting the outcomes into your template can help you identify what activity you intend to run and why you are running it.

  4. Activity - Here you capture what it is you intend to do to help the student towards achieving a learning outcome. You will want to capture a short summary of what activity types you intend to cover, points you would like to cover and other important notes. Below is a list of activity types you can choose from.

  5. Resources - The majority of activities will require some sort of resources whether it’s whiteboard and pens to exercise materials or laptops. Noting them down in the plan ensure you keep track of what you need to bring to a session.

  6. After the session - Much like we can share content or activities for the learner before a lesson. You may want to consider other activities the learner can do after the lesson to help the learner achieve the learning outcomes further.

Activity types

Below is a description of the different activity types to consider adding when developing a lesson plan.

Studies have shown that avoiding sticking to one style of teaching leads to better engagement with learning materials as well as increasing the ‘stickiness’ of the information being shared. Therefore, to create an engaging lesson it is worth selecting a range of activities to go into your lessons. These are the common activity types that are carried out in a lesson:

  • Big group discussion - All students and mentors gather together with hosts asking questions that the students are expected to answer. Answers are typically mind mapped on a whiteboard. You can find 20 different types captured here.

  • Small group discussions - Students are split up into smaller groups with one or more mentors to have a discussion about a topic that has been set by the hosts. There are many styles to facilitating a discussion. You can find 20 different types captured here.

  • Whiteboard session - Hosts will describe their approach or ideas about a specific topic to the group. This will involve hosts typically mind mapping or diagramming ideas on a whiteboard.

  • Exercises - Students are split up into smaller groups with one or more mentors to carry out an exercise that has been set out by the hosts. You can choose what sort of exercise you would like to run (providing they meet the learning outcomes). Your choices are to build one or check out the exercise bucket to see which exercise might suit your needs. ( Note: if you create an exercise, share it with the other hosts so we can add it to the bucket)

  • Debrief - Students are invited to share lessons learned or actions carried out during an exercise or group discussion with either another group of students or with the full group.

Putting it all together

The output of a lesson plan should be a list of activities that match to the specific learning outcomes of that lesson. As mentioned before a mix of activities makes for a better lesson, but here are some points to consider:

  1. Make time to introduce the lesson at the start. Use it to introduce the meetup, talk about upcoming sessions, any other business and frame what you will be discussing in the lesson.

  2. Additionally, make time for wrap up at the end. A quick five minutes that summarises what the students have learnt during the lesson.

  3. Small group discussions are a great ice breaker and can lead to big group discussions nicely as it allows the small group to form ideas before sharing with a wider group.

  4. Debrief after exercises make for excellent conversation points and help groups share their experiences.

There is a lot to consider when planning your own sessions so it may be worthwhile reviewing the example lesson plans captured for each set of learning outcomes that you can find here. These will help give you an idea of what a lesson plan will look like when captured.