Lessons Learned, Tips & Tricks for New Hosts

During TestBash Manchester, Wanda, Vernon and me sat down to talk about any Lessons Learned on hosting a Clinic - I thought this might also make a good topic here. A lot of the things we initially picked up from other hosts, and then fitted them to our needs.

Mark & me usually:

  • Meet up up 1ish week in advance to go through Lesson Plan (1-2 hours)
  • We especially focus on the Objectives - are they clear to us? Do we think we can reasonably cover objective using the exercises and discussion / whiteboard sessions?
  • We make a copy of the lesson plan, adapted to our needs, e.g. changed timings, descriptions, sometimes swapping exercises or changing objectives
  • We roughly assign who is driving which section
  • We check if we have special requirements - games need ordering, room requirements, any tools, do mentors need to bring laptops?
  • We check back with Dan/Mark or other hosts if anything is unclear on any of the exercises - this helps a lot, and often they can point us to good resources used before
  • We try to email students and mentors on the weekend before the session. Mentors also get a link to the lesson plan (and we have copies on the day for them)
  • And we iterate who’s responsible for all the organisation (putting up on meetup, mailing people etc)

In preparation (~ 4 hours), I usually

  • sketch out the plan by hand, to cement it more in my head
  • note the length of the sessions (so I don’t have to calculate in my head)
  • listen to the 99 second talks
  • go through the exercises myself
  • read the examples of previous sessions from other clinics on the club (treasure trove!)
  • make sure that I have some basic models, definitions, categories at hand for the whiteboarding sessions

On the day

  • we make sure mentors are ready and have a lesson plan
  • we are happy to respond to the flow, not worrying if we run a section over for a few minutes (or are shorter)
  • … and have dropped a section on occasion, if need be
  • … sometimes we are cutting into the wrap-up though - this is an area I’d like to improve more on, as I think it’s really important.


  • we put up a section on the club with further resources.

What do others do? Similar? Different?

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