Project Update: The Guide Program’s First Month

The Guide Program was launched by the Training Team at the beginning of September 2023. This program empowers new contributors to the Training Team by providing them with comprehensive training resources and opportunities to strengthen their skills, through mentorship with experienced contributors. For more details about the program, please see the Guide Program handbook, and for further background, see the original proposal post.

In this post, we’ll go over the key aspects of this program, and recap its launch. We’ll also share some feedback and learnings from the first month of the program, including potential next steps.

Guide Program Goals

  • Provide a structured and effective onboarding process for new contributors to the program
  • Provide leadership opportunities for experienced Training Team members
  • Foster a supportive and inclusive learning environment within the Training Team
  • Help new contributors to the Training Team learn how to leverage their skills and identify their area(s) of contribution
  • Inspire and empower community members to contribute to the Training Team and share their expertise

Pilot Launch and Setup

At the beginning of September, we matched 9 new contributors with one of 5 Guides. If a Guide was supporting multiple contributors, some chose to run the program as a cohort, but many worked one-on-one with them.

For this pilot month, the program closely followed the structure in the Guide Program Handbook, but we also ended up integrating some additional processes that were inspired by the excellent Contributor Mentorship program:

  • A dedicated, public SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at channel was created for everyone participating in the program to connect with each other, including all new contributors and guides.
    • A weekly thread in this channel was made at the end of each week to call for individual learnings, wins, and challenges.
    • All contributors and Guides were encouraged to connect with each other in this channel outside of the weekly thread.
    • With a public channel, anyone in the community is also welcome to join the channel to observe and support the participants.
  • A private Slack channel was created for Guides to discuss the program, and support each other in their roles.

How did the Guide Program do?

At the end of September, a feedback form was shared with participants. As of October 16, we have received 6 responses to this form. The following information was gathered from this form, as well as from Slack conversations, so the below activity might not be comprehensive.

Contributions made by participants

  • 3 Translations made
  • 1 Meeting notes taken
  • 8 Tutorials reviewed
  • 1 Training Contributor badge earned
  • 1 Translation Contributor badge earned

Success Stories

Most of the respondents to the feedback form feel more confident and prepared to contribute to WordPress! Below is a selection of success stories we’ve heard from our newest contributors.

I was the meeting note taker at the 26th September and will try to do it once a month. Also, learnt how to translate and review content. I will stick to the training team and attend the meeting for future contributions. Thanks to my mentor @sumitsingh and all the mentors.

It is with great joy that I share with you all that last week I was able to make my third contribution to the training team. It was a great achievement and I am excited to be able to continue making positive contributions to the team. With hard work and dedication, I am confident that I will make many more important contributions going forward.

I participated on September guided cohort program and learned a lot about contribution. 

@courtneypk and @kafleg helped a lot in my journey. I translated 3 high priority content this month. Planning work as note taker on next available date.

Thanks for the excellent guided program.

After some time spent getting to understand the contributors roles, I began contributing as an editor a couple of weeks ago. While reviewing tutorials, I continue to attend virtual Meetups and consuming published tutorials in Learn.WordPress. I appreciate the support of the community in our cohort and look forward to being a more active contributor in the future.

If you participated in the Guide Program in September, please feel free to share your own success stories in the comments!

Suggestions for Improvement

Overall, input from participants in the Guide Program has been largely positive, but we also heard some suggestions for improvement, which are dependent on the participant’s individual experience. Suggestions that have been shared so far include:

  • Strengthen Guides’ abilities to plan and manage time effectively
  • More synchronous check-ins
  • Hands-on sessions to demonstrate and walk participants through the contribution processes

Next Steps

The Guide Program is significant in expanding the Training Team’s reach and support system for contributors, and it will continue! That said, there are some changes to the program that we intend to integrate.

  • Since the idea for the program-specific Slack channels was integrated after launch, we should make it an official part of the program and include it in the handbook.
  • A “Best Practices” handbook page could help Guides be more effective.
  • A section in the handbook to help Guides facing common challenges (e.g., low engagement, time management, etc.) could be helpful.
  • For Check-in 3, it is currently suggested for “The Guide prepares an update to share at the next Training Team meeting to introduce and acknowledge the new contributor and their area(s) of contribution.” We could modify this to be flexible and make a few recommendations of when and where to do this, instead of just being limited to meetings threads.
  • It would be ideal to have this program run on an ongoing/rolling basis instead of tied to a calendar month. That way, new contributors can get the support they need soon after joining the team. This would make the program more focused on one-on-one mentorship, which can be more reasonable for Guides’ bandwidth, and give new contributors more focused support.

This is just the beginning!

If you participated as a contributor in the Guide Program, please take a moment to complete the feedback form that was shared with you, or comment on this post. The insight that you share is important, as it will help us evaluate our newest program, and guide us in iterating on it to best serve new contributors in the future.

All contributors, whether new and experienced, are encouraged to participate in future Guide Program pairings! If you are interested in participating, please go to the Guide Program handbook page and submit the form that is relevant to you.

Thank you to @piyopiyofox for reviewing this post.

This post was last updated on October 17 to update the “Contributions made by participants” section.