After being an AGSS volunteer last year, creating and co-leading my own workshop this year gave me an inside look at how much time and energy goes into the final workshop that everyone experiences. So, this is an overview of our process, specifically using the example of the scratch workshop, for anyone considering volunteering or just wondering how the process runs within AGSS.
The first step for any volunteer who wants to lead a workshop is to create a workshop proposal, most of which are presented at our annual summer volunteer meeting (for current 8th graders interested in volunteering next year, we’d love to have you there!). These proposals generally include an overview of topics the workshop will cover and some ideas for activities. In the scratch workshop, we had planned to have a few shorter challenges with a longer project at the end in our proposal, and included drafts of slides on useful blocks and debugging. After presenting, the people proposing the workshop will receive feedback and ideas of things to add from anyone watching. For example, since our workshop was a very simple overview of scratch, we decided to limit the age range to younger participants who were more likely to have never encountered scratch before.
Once a workshop has been approved and put into the schedule, the leader(s) start creating and working on their slides and activities. As it gets closer to the workshop date, the leader(s), president, vice presidents, and curriculum directors (eg. we have directors of technology who would help out with programming workshops) hold 2-3 development meetings, running through activities, giving feedback, and helping to plan. In the first development meeting, we had a first draft of a completed slideshow, with planned activities and the information we wanted to cover. Before the second meeting, the other people present at the meeting went through our slides in more depth and gave us more feedback. Meanwhile, the other workshop leader and I worked on the suggestions we had received during the meeting, such as an extension packet for participants who already knew scratch and a volunteer cheat sheet so they could help the participants even if they didn’t know programming. The second meeting was more detail-oriented, as almost everything was complete.
With all of these details worked out, the workshop finally happens! From my experience, I know how much we as volunteers enjoy helping and interacting with all of our participants. Workshops are definitely a highlight of each month for me, and I know we’re all excited to see everyone at the next one!