A recap of our weekend CSM

This weekend Agile Learning Labs held a memorable Certified Scrum Master training. We capped admission at 28, and had a wait list–a first for us. The distinguished student body included people who flew in for the event from Tennessee, Michigan and Dubai, and a good mix of current agile team members, independent consultants, and job seekers–fewer job seekers than usual as the employment market improves, we’re happy to report!

The atmosphere was bubbly and energetic from the start. People showing up for “corporate training” on a Saturday morning aren’t always all that fired up, but this group arrived fully charged: when Chris called for order at 9:00am on Saturday morning, the buzz of conversation was so thick he felt as if he were interrupting an open bar cocktail party.

One of the issues we have wrestled with in designing our CSM curriculum is the diversity of experience people bring to it. Our feedback forms told us consistently that however we handled the “intro to agile” portion of our material, people were either disappointed that the class was “introductory,” or frustrated that the class was “too advanced.” The problem is that CSM classes by nature are taken by both Agile newbies, and experienced practitioners retro-fitting their resumes with certification.

Chris’ solution, implemented in the last couple of classes, has been to divide the students into groups and charge each with preparing a presentation on some core aspect of scrum–this mixes the experienced with the curious into small groups, and lets them learn from each other (hey, if you’re experienced in something, nothing helps you cement that knowledge quite like explaining it to a noob). The students took the assignment to heart–the first group presented their material in the form of a Doo-Wop number complete with synchronized backing vocals, and the team charged with defining “product owner” came up with a set of cheers “P is for…!” that Chris and Jeff singled out later as being astonishingly accurate.

Day two saw four teams engage in The Agile Game, a half-day simulation of an Agile project, completing three sprints–four if you count Iteration Zero. The culmination of all this fun was a graduation “ceremony” in which Chris presented each student with a certificate, a Scrum Master button, and a secret Scrum Master handshake (you’ll have to take the class to find out what this consists of, but suffice it to say that it involves Ken Schwaber, a bicycle accident, and a sheep dog).

We’re currently planning our 2011 schedule of classes, which will include CSM, CSPO, as well as brand-spanking-new courses in OpenAgile, TDD and other offerings, so sign up for our infrequent newsletter or check the website soon to see what’s coming up.

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