At Pace University, I host an open lab practice. Anyone can come and go as they please. Students who attend more frequently statistically do better in the actual competition. Every week, I cover one new challenge category and one review challenge category. Attendees are welcome to work on challenges with me and the group or work on their own materials. Students most frequently chose to listen to a short 20-minute lecture to introduce new materials and then work by themselves for the remainder of the lab, asking questions when stumped.
One of my biggest rules is that I never answer a question or provide specific directions. I have worked hard to understand the challenges and the road blocks that a competitor might run into. I coach by asking the right questions. This coaches guide will show you how I instruct the various challenges and give you examples of the questions I ask my students to help guide them.
Why Do I Do It This Way?
During the competition, as a coach, you cannot help your students directly. You must learn to give guidance without telling them what to do. You will also need to work with your students to teach them to accept this kind of guidance. I receive a lot of pushback from students the first time I try to help them this way, but I truly believe in this method.
Teaching students to work through their own roadblocks without help is much more useful than telling them what to do. Sure, if you help them that way, they will know what to do if they run into that specific problem, but what if they run into something different? How will they learn to troubleshoot this type of issue if you do not train them?
The following is my informal list of the topics I attempt to cover with my students before they begin the National Cyber League Games. These are the foundational skills they will need to navigate the competition without learning challenge by challenge. This is not a comprehensive list. This is only what I attempt to cover at a very introductory level before the first competition. The goal should be to create familiarity over mastery so the student can explore and develop their own mastery during the competition.