Overlapping batches

Hacker Schoolers have helped to define a lot of what makes Hacker School great. This is true both in the obvious sense that Hacker School is fundamentally composed of the people who participate in it, but also in the deeper sense that they organize and create many of the things that make up the Hacker School experience.

When people come up with ways to improve Hacker School they don’t need anyone’s permission to see them through. If a Hacker Schooler wants to organize a seminar on Lua or get more regular code review, they can make it happen.

In past batches, people have started SICP and Nand2Tetris reading groups, set up the Hacker School Beverage Coalition, run Iron blogger challenges, and organized everything from poker nights to Code Review Thursdays.

But because we have month-long gaps between batches, we effectively throw out all of these additions to Hacker School at the end of each batch, and we never get to take advantage of the momentum we’ve built up.1 It’s also emotionally and psychologically taxing to always be starting fresh and to have to reestablish the social environment.

Beginning this summer, we’re going to try an experiment: We’re going to have overlapping batches, with a new batch starting every six weeks. This is different from what we’ve done for the past three years, which was to run three batches a year with one-month breaks in between. Batches will still be about three months long.

Since batches will overlap, each batch will get to spend about six weeks with the batch that started before it and about six weeks with the batch that comes after it.2 We’re calling each six-week period a rotation.

Overlapping batches

We think this will improve Hacker School in several ways.

First, more of the improvements people make to Hacker School will persist between batches. We think this will increase the rate at which Hacker School improves.

Second, Hacker Schoolers will still get a core group of people to bond tightly with — the people in their batch — but they’ll also get to meet and work closely with more Hacker Schoolers than they otherwise would be able to.

Lastly, Hacker Schoolers starting their first rotation will benefit from being around the people who are doing their second rotation. The Hacker Schoolers who have already gotten the lay of the land will be able to help the newcomers more quickly acclimate to Hacker School’s environment.

  1. Starting fresh each batch does have at least one advantage: it lets us more easily recover from mistakes we’ve made.

  2. This won’t be true for our batch beginning on June 9th, since it will only overlap with the following batch. This means there will likely be fewer people at Hacker School during the first half of the batch compared to our past batch and more people during the second half of the batch.