Peers Make Great Teachers: Alumni Tutoring and Mentorship at The Flatiron School

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Learning to program doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a process full of happy highs and stubborn lows that takes a lot of trying and failing. You can struggle with something for days when suddenly it just clicks.

We think we’re pretty resourceful when it comes to helping students understand the stuff they’re learning. Instructors will assign more labs or hold 1:1 tutoring sessions—but sometimes getting the material is just a matter of hearing someone else’s perspective on it.

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To make sure students in our Web and iOS course get as many of these perspectives we can give them, our alums volunteer to share theirs. Every Sunday, alumni hang out for a few hours (or more!) to hold office hours, help students out with labs, and go over any questions that pop up.

If alums have a new way of explaining a topic that really makes it stick, great! Students get a valuable perspective from their peers. And for those doing the teaching, they’re crystallizing their knowledge while learning how to teach—a skill they’ll be able use over and over again.

It’s no secret that teaching others is one of the best ways to learn. To tutor, alums have to prepare ahead of time to work through material that might be somewhat new to them, too. These sessions will not only help current students make connections and find answers. They’ll also help give our alumni a way to reinforce what they learned here. Win-win.

Last Sunday marked our first alumni tutoring session of this semester—and so far, so good! Fifteen students and 11 alums went over the week’s topics and worked through questions.

.@FlatironSchool on a Sunday. High schoolers, adults, and alumni. Just nerding out with code.

— Avi Flombaum (@aviflombaum) October 5, 2014

… But Sunday was just the beginning. Longer term mentorship opportunities are available. And we plan to keep collecting feedback and adjusting the process until tutoring sessions are as helpful and fun for everyone as possible.

Huge thanks to our alums for making this possible. If you’d like to start mentoring or tutoring Flatiron Students, you don’t have to have gone to school here. Just get in touch!

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