Pair programming across skill levels - without the drama

A 150 minute Workshop by:

Irina Tsyganok


Nat Pryce


About this Workshop

Pairing junior and senior developers on tasks is seen by many organisations as a mutually beneficial learning and mentoring practice. However, learning and successful mentoring are often mixed with frustration, disengagement and stalled progress. These difficulties are usually not acknowledged by the organisations or by the developers themselves.

Together with the audience Irina Tsyganok (YOOX Net-A Porter) looks at a range of problems encountered when pair-programming across skill levels. She analyses causes and effects of pairing ‘sins’ committed by senior and junior developers, and explores physical, technical and organisational impediments and solutions.

The issues range from the obvious and easily solvable, such as disengagement caused by bad physical space, to the more subtle and often overlooked issues related to self-esteem, and experts' amnesia as to the process by which they acquired their expertise.

Irina hosts problems as short sketches acted by the presenters, interspersed with commentary and audience participation. The session concludes with a group exercise to share ideas on how to address the underlying causes of dysfunctional collaboration and put better ways of working into practice.

About the Speakers

Irina Tsyganok

Irina Tsyganok is a software developer at YOOX Net-A-Porter Group and an active member of the agile and wider technology community. This session is based on, and leads on from, her paper, “Pair-Programming from a Beginner’s Perspective”, which she presented at XP2016.


Nat Pryce

Nat Pryce is a co-author of 'Growing Object­-Oriented Software Guided by Tests'. He has delivered business-critical systems that range from embedded devices to large computer farms supporting global business.

As a technical lead, his responsibilities include mentoring developers and establishing common ways of working between disparate, distributed teams.


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