Starting a coding club at school boils down to making change, right? You've noticed something doesn't exist, and now you need to take the steps to make a change.
In fact, feeling empowered to make change is one of the most important things kids can experience at a young age...that, if you aren’t happy with the status quo, there might be steps you can take to shift course.
If you want spending money, well, you can look into getting a job. If you want a puppy, then you can try to prove to your parents that you’re ready to handle such responsibility.
Now, this doesn’t always translate—I’m sure you would love to fight for the right to not have to do any homework! The education system is pretty rigid in this regard, and on most topics.
Same goes for the subjects you are asked to learn in the classroom; there isn’t much wiggle room. Meaning, math, science, and history—it’s all pretty standard and concrete, leaving many students without the opportunity to learn something like coding at school, or having the means to make change.
Luckily though, not all is lost for those of you with alternative interests.
For instance, if you’re interested in coding during the school year, you have another outlet—coding club; a valuable after-school enrichment activity that can blend fun and learning for an educational jumping off point.
How to start a coding club
While a coding club is more about getting like-minded students together to talk about and perhaps work on coding projects together versus learning, there are still many benefits to trying to get a club established.
In doing so, though, there is a process!
Here are some tips you should follow when trying to start a coding club at your school.
Check out your school’s existing clubs and get a feel for the approval process
You might be surprised to learn about the many clubs that already exist at school. So, the first step is to double-check that a coding club doesn’t already exist!
The best place to start is by visiting the school website, as most sites list all of the available extracurriculars.
If coding club isn’t already taking place, great!
If it is, even better!
Either way, another valuable thing you can do at this point is to make note of the currently-active club sponsors or moderators (usually teachers) who are in charge of managing the group of students.
If there is a teacher you are familiar with, it’s probably a good idea for you to have a chat with them and gain some insight about the process for starting a new club.
Survey students and gauge their interest in joining a coding club
This is a less formal step than what it might sound like. Really, the goal here is to see if any other students (hopefully a few) would be interested in such a club. You can start by simply floating the idea past your immediate group of friends, and then branching out to other classmates, perhaps by asking a teacher to make a short announcement in class.
This interest-gauging is an important step to take, and one that should be taken early, for obvious reasons—if there aren’t enough interested individuals, the club will quickly fizzle out, or not get approved to run at all in the first place.
Talk to administration about the process for starting a new coding club
Every school is different, and while it might seem like starting a club is easy given the existence of your school’s baseball card club or other niche group, you never know!
One thing is certain, and that’s that you will need to go through some sort of registration and approval process before you can start making headway with your coding club.
Such processes include filling out paperwork and/or having conversations with school staff about the club’s activities, goals, how others can join, etc.
Define the coding club’s goals and mission
Sometimes the easiest questions require the most thought, and you might actually find this to be a difficult step.
Why? Because on paper, a coding club sounds awesome! You have an interest in coding, and have only been able to learn coding at summer camp, so, why not?
But when it comes down to it, are you able to formulate a statement around what is the true purpose of the club?
If you are struggling to articulate, here are some ideas:
Maybe your goal is to introduce coding to those who have never given it any thought. Or, perhaps you’d like to make coding club a place where experienced minds can come together to discuss their challenges with current coding projects.
Maybe you’re trying to find a sponsor who can actually help teach basic coding, like scratch programming for the younger crowd, or something like python for those a bit older. (The teacher leader can also facilitate bringing in volunteers to help teach certain coding aspects, or to talk about the importance of STEM, etc.).
Other possibilities include working on a larger project together as a club, or maybe prepping for a local STEM competition.
I wouldn’t say the world is your oyster in this regard, but there are a lot of different directions you can take your coding club.
Get school-approved and make the club official
Once you have gone through the process of vetting the interest in your proposed club, have come up with the goal for creating it, and now have a good handle on how to apply in order to make your club official, the next step is to apply to make it official!
We covered most of this above, so this step is really just about you following the application process you’ve already learned about.
Once the club receives the green light (fingers crossed), the school may provide additional info in terms of which teacher can moderate, and also communicate guidelines for meeting times, meeting places, and other bylaws.
Things like whether or not club members can/should bring their devices, if permission slips are needed, where clubs will be held, attendance needed to keep the club in good standing, and more should all be discussed and understood at this point.
Let people know the new coding club exists
Once approval is received, time to spread the word! Many schools offer the opportunity to advertise clubs in the following ways:
- On a school community bulletin board
- On the school marquee
- On the school website
- Via school social media
- In morning announcements
- In teacher moderator classrooms
- In school assemblies
- In school folders and parent messaging
There’s no shortage of opportunities to get the word out!
A valuable experience, from start to finish
In the end, you should feel proud of getting a club instituted at your school!
As you can tell from the above, coding is important, sure, and the availability of another club at school is great in itself, but think about all of the other benefits the entire experience can yield:
- Interacting with and getting “face time” with school officials
- Socializing with friends and making new acquaintances
- Thinking through the goal-setting process and developing a mission
- Undergoing a formal application process
- Acting as a group leader
- Learning basic advertising and promotion skills
And this is all before club sessions even commence!
Thus, if you are interested in starting a coding club, or any club for that matter (read more about robotics clubs), do your best to pursue action and progress.