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How to stand-up

Daily stand-ups are a tool in agile software development to help keep teams synced up and to help build more efficient lines of communication and keep teams from wasting time. These meetings happen at periodic intervals, usually daily, and at the same time, every time. Stand-ups are short in nature, with the whole meeting taking 5-10 minutes, ideally no more than 15 minutes. During these meetings, that every one on the team attends, each attendee answers three questions:

  1. What did I do since last stand-up?
  2. What am I working on next?
  3. What, if any, blockers do I have?

This helps managers see what is going on, as well as help the team reduce blockers, thus getting more work completed. A good example of a stand-up status is:

Yesterday, I completed the CSS and HTML for the dashboard.
Today, I am working on mobile bug display bug the CSS and HTML for the user profile page
I am waiting on the API so I can hook up the dashboard with real data

The idea of streamlining the feedback loop for a team, can be transformed into streamlining feedback for instructors and students. This can be done by changing the questions to a new format:

  1. What is one thing that I struggled with last nights assignment
  2. What is one thing that was a success with last nights assignment

The successes shared help with identifying the strengths in knowledge that class collectively has, and conversely, the struggling topic reveals the gaps in knowledge and other stressful factors. These struggles can then be taken into account by the instructors to tailor the curriculum to help address those struggles.

Even though the successes boost moral and make students feel good when sharing, the real value is in the instructor hearing the struggles. The struggles can be technical skills or personal stresses. For example, if the students, collectively share that they are feeling stressed and tired, it might be a good day for review.

Some good example statuses:

Last night I was able to get my menu to be responsive, but I struggled with reading the JSON from my API
My success is that I was able to get my page to update every 10 seconds, but I worked on it until 11, so I didn't get to the gym
My success is that I made it to week 6, my struggle is still react-router

Stand-ups happen for a few big reasons. First, its a good way to start the day. It gives the students a good first thing, and kicks off the rest of the daily schedule. Second, it builds a sense of togetherness, quicker and across cohorts. This togetherness shows when they students go and work on projects.

The biggest reason why stand-ups exists are to give the instructor another form of feedback to adjust the schedule accordingly. Without stand-ups the instructors only perspectives are through questions during lab/lecture and through homework, which a student could easily slip by. But with the stand-up, every student is constantly sharing their status going through the program.