why we still believe in classroom instruction


Surefoot founder, Jim Medema, has conducted FileMaker training classes, coaching, and mentoring students on all things FileMaker for nearly 25 years, from coast to coast, and at the annual FileMaker Developer Conference.

While online videos abound, many people find an in-person classroom experience to provide much better learning results, especially for beginner and intermediate developers. We watch them ourselves (yes!) for reference and continuing education. But there’s something that happens in a hands-on, in-person training session that cannot be matched in video training or reading through PDF downloads.

Here are common refrains from Surefoot training students:

  • The simple act of getting off-site and away from the phones, emails, meetings and other distractions was the biggest factor for me. I just couldn’t make progress when I was at work – too many interruptions. When I’m here, I can focus!
  • The videos are great, but I can’t stop them and ask the instructor to address my question, or ask them how it applies to my situation. The opportunity to interact with an expert instructor throughout the day helped me the most.
  • I’ve found the videos helpful if I had specific topic area questions. Then again, finding a video to that addressed my specific situation was often impossible to find.
  • To get the benefit of what I learned in 3 days of in-person instruction, I would have had to sit through 3-times as many hours of online videos. I just don’t have that kind of time.
  • I’m still pretty new to development and the information online was too scattered. Having a single, coherent 0-to-60 kind of hands-on training was exactly what I needed.
  • It was odd how much I learned when other students were asking questions about their systems and situations. It provided perspectives that I could never have gained if the only thing I had seen was example files and my own database. Truly, my world opened up about what databases can do and where and how they can be used!

And while some consultants say that they offer training, most don’t offer classes or have anyone on staff who was trained as a teacher, has written curriculum, or has the years of teaching, coaching and mentoring that Jim has.

Interesting Fact: Jim Medema was the original developer behind the most-used example file in the original FileMaker Training Series called “Bonsai Gardens.” It is the single most-studied database file in FileMaker history and has been taught to tens of thousands of people worldwide.

Read the information below, or call (612-743-9527) to learn more about our FileMaker Training offerings and find out which one is best for you!

 surefoot founder teaching at devcon

2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and again in 2019!

Permit me to answer the question you haven’t asked: “Is this guy a good teacher and is he qualified? What credentials does he have?”

Surefoot founder, Jim Medema, Surefoot founder, Jim Medema, has been teaching since 1990 and conducting FileMaker Training classes for over 25 years. During this time he has impacted 1000’s of students from nearly as many organizations. He is one of about 25 people in the world who have earned every Developer Certification and every Authorized Trainer Certification. Jim has been a speaker and teacher at the last FIVE Developer Conventions and will again be teaching again at the 2018 Filemaker Developer Conference in Dallas, TX, alongside epic heros in the FileMaker community Cris Ippolite, Matt Petrowsky, Bob Bowers, Matt O’Dell and Jeremy Brown.

Regarding his work at the Filemaker Developer Conference, in 2016 and 2017 Jim taught the full-day Beginning FileMaker class. The year before (2015) he taught the Intermediate FileMaker class and in 2014, he presented 2 different breakout sessions. Jim’s first session “Essential Data Modeling: Avoiding the Nightmare and Getting it Right” was extremely well-received and hilariously retitled by a non-technical friend “Essentially Dating a Model and Getting it Right”! His second session was titled “”0-60: Starting and Growing Your Business as an Independent Consultant” has been referenced by several subsequent DevCon speakers as a great resource for developers who want to become entreprenuers.

what sets Surefoot training apart

All trainers cover key concepts, like Surefoot. Where Surefoot stands apart is in how we guide an ongoing conversation in every class about best practices – the tasks, techniques and habits that set apart the exceptional from the average. In the same way that knowing how to use a hammer and saw won’t make you a master carpenter, knowing what a FileMaker feature does won’t make you a star developer.

Learning a trick with slider panels is nice and, of course, we want to teach you how to implement a slider panel. But we also want you to learn why and teach you how to evaluate whether it’s a better option than tab panels or a card window for your specific use case. By learning to think like a developer, the tips and tricks will fall nicely in line.

And for those who want more than just curriculum-based training, our 4-day “Outfitter Package” offers a student-focused day when we focus on designing and building your solution in a workshop style format. Students who take this course have something to show the boss when they get back to work on the following Monday!

Finally, for those who really want to make the most of their training, Surefoot offers an as-needed coaching program that is customized to your needs, your timeline, and your budget. We’re here to help, whatever that looks like for you and your organization!

Read more about it below!

Training Guarantee

Surefoot unequivocally guarantees that you will grow in your knowledge and skills as a developer and user! If you are not delighted with any course you have taken with Surefoot, we will fully refund your registration fee. No questions! No fine print!


  1. Review the Training Formats to see what format  best meet your needs
  2. Review the Course Descriptions to find the course that best matches your objectives
  3. Review the Course Calendar to select the dates that match your schedule
  4. Review the Training FAQ at the bottom of the page
  5. Call Surefoot with questions or to discuss mentoring or custom training
  6. Register!


This format is exactly what you’d expect from a traditional hands-on training course: curriculum-driven teaching with hands-on exercises and time for discussion. The greatest strength of this type of classes is the structured nature of the content and the deliberate intention to work through the curriculum.

Due to the sheer amount of information covered in these classes, the expectation is not necessarily a mastery of knowledge, skills and techniques. There’s simply too much. Rather, students should expect a thorough introduction on a broad range of topics that will, at minimum, be “familiar terrain” when revisiting them again in the future.

The “Intro to FileMaker: Newbie to Power User” and “FileMaker Advanced” classes follow this classic format. These are 1-day and 3-day classes, respectively, and are highly recommended for students who want a broadly focused FileMaker training experience. The 3-day is fashioned on the original  Authorized FileMaker Training Series: Advanced (FTS Advanced) curriculum that comprises over 800 pages of the best, most thorough curriculum available. The 1-day Intro class is what Jim teaches at the FileMaker Developer Conference and is perfect for those who are new to FileMaker, those who want to ensure that they have solid grouding before taking the Advanced class, and those who want a small taste of basic development skills.

Custom training is available for groups desiring training in specific concepts and skills. You can pick and choose the concepts, topics and techniques you want to master and, if desired, you can request custom curriculum written for your specific needs. Training can be focused on using your database or we can provide example files for the course. Together we set the format for either hands-on or lecture, or a mixture of both, whichever serves your group best.

Custom training sessions can be held onsite at your offices or another convenient location, or at Surefoot’s training center in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, MN.

For users desiring one-on-one coaching/mentoring/training, Surefoot can work with you to set up the exact training experience that will benefit you most – all based on your needs. We can use standard curriculum or work together on your database at a pace and timeline that fits your schedule! Onsite and remote mentoring options are available. Call 612-743-9527 to discuss your training needs.
Even with the latest and greatest screen sharing technologies and the prevalence of webinars, students who are physically present in a group learning environment learn and retain a great deal more than they would in an online course. As such, Surefoot only performs online training only for one-on-one remote coaching and for short lecture-style training sessions. If online training looks to be the best fit for you, contact Surefoot directly to discuss your specific training needs.

a teacher that speaks “human”

Jim Medema, FileMaker TrainingOriginally trained to be an educator, Surefoot’s founder, Jim Medema, has trained over 1000 students in the art and science of relational database development using FileMaker products and related supporting applications. And there’s this added bonus: Jim’s B.A. was in English, so your chances of actually understanding the class without a geek translation device are extremely high!



This is a perfect class for users who are new to FileMaker, investigating FileMaker as a possible platform for their database, and for those who want to move towards the title of “Power User”. This course follows the classic instructional format and is a fun and full day covering all the basics of using FileMaker. We also dip our toes into the waters of development so users get a taste of what it’s like to design and develop a database using FileMaker Pro.

This course is best suited for:

  • Users who are new to Filemaker
  • Users who are investigating FileMaker as a possible platform for their organization and want a solid user orientation
  • Users who want to ensure a solid foundation before attending the FTS Advanced class
  • Users wanting to dip their toes into the shallow waters of development

This is, by far, our most popular class! To prepare students for the course and to help us understand how we can ensure their success, we interview every student a week or so before the class. We want to understand more of your background, experience, and what your objectives are for attending the class.In this hands-on, exercise-intensive classroom atmosphere, we will power through a lengthy list of key development concepts in a guided, information-packed format using the best curriculum available.This course is best for students who want to get a thorough education about developing in FileMaker in the shortest possible time frame. At times it may feel like you’re “drinking from a fire hose” but trust us – you’ll love it!These classes utilize the official Authorized FileMaker Training Series: Advanced curriculum, the most-used and most comprehensive FileMaker curriculum available.Then, to wrap up your training, all students receive a complimentary 1-hour follow up consultation within a few weeks after the course. Our objective, from start to finish, is to do all we can to ensure that you learn, and learn well, the core concepts of developing with FileMaker.IMPORTANT: Remember going to a fair and seeing the signs near each ride that says “You must be THIS tall to go on this ride”? Right there on the sign was a painted line where kids would measure themselves to see if they were allowed in. In the same way, this course assumes some core knowledge and experience with FileMaker, without which a student is likely to struggle through some of the more difficult concepts in the class.If you are an active user of FileMaker and feel confident in your user skills, you should be just fine. However, for people who are really new to FileMaker, we encourage students to consider first attending the Intro to FileMaker class (“Newbie to Power User”) before registering for this class. If you’re not sure whether you’re ready for this class, give us a call and we can help you figure out what your smartest move should be.

This course is best suited for:

  • Users who want to get a broad introduction to as many core FileMaker concepts as possible
  • Users who are assuming (or want to assume) a larger role as “Developer”
  • Developers who want to kick their knowledge level up several notches

Pre-Requisite: FileMaker Advanced: Develop (3-day)

IMPORTANT: If you want to take the “My Day” class immediately after the Develop 3-day, please register for the “Outfitter Package” so you get both classes on a single registration. If you have already taken the 3-day class previously you may register for this class.

Enough with the curriculum and example files! I want help with MY system!

So, you’re done ‘drinking from a fire hose’ in a 3 or 4-day class. You’re exhausted (but happy!) and have a thousand questions you desperately want to be answered, and you want to focus on YOUR database. From initial planning to data modeling to layout design to well…anything, this day is about YOUR needs. You will leave saying ‘Hey, look what I did!’

We strongly recommend that students take our “FileMaker Advanced: Develop” 3-day course so that all students start this session with the same core understandings, same terms and core skills. The objective here is not simply to be a cheap tech support for a day. Instead, we will…

  • Help you plan out your system: Data model, Layout List, Layout Theme
  • Take a whack at some of the more complex elements of your solution
  • Help you lay out your next steps and answer “where do I start” and “where do I go next?”
  • Gather information to estimate the time required to complete your work
  • Document the benefits of your proposed app so you can justify the time and costs to management
  • Clarify decisions you need to make on hosting
  • Plan an overall strategy for your project from start to finish
  • Discuss which tasks you can do yourself and which ones you may want to hire out
  • Talk about whether mentoring is an option that would work well for you

We will discuss that morning each student’s situation and set specific objectives for the day. The cross-pollination of learning when you look not only at your solution, but also hear other students work through their situation is truly magical!

We are very excited to introduce a special new package of classes that are entirely designed to GET YOU STARTED on your project! Here’s some of what we know:

Most students who attend FileMaker training…
  • Have an actual project in mind that they need to work on when they return from training
  • Want to get started immediately on that project when they return
  • Are “full to the brim” with new knowledge after the 3-day Advanced class (“overwhelmed” is a common refrain)
However, when the training is over, most students…
  • Get back to their workplace and are overtaken by their normal work tasks, emails, phone calls, meetings, etc.
  • Find it difficult to set aside time for development and may eventually forget how best to get started
  • Wish they could have gotten started immediately after the 3-day class when everything was fresh in their mind
  • Wish they had the chance to discuss THEIR project in detail, regardless of how good the training curriculum may have been
  • Wish they were more confident in the data structure of this new solution they are tasked with building
  • Wish for some honest and expert guidance and feedback on the new solution they are starting
We can help! And here’s how…

We are combining the 3-day Advanced class along with the 1-day “My Day” class into a single, comprehensive, 4-day session! You get everything from the FTS Advanced course (the pre-class interview, the 3-day Advanced course, and the complimentary after-class consultation) PLUS a full day of attention on your system and expert guidance to help you actually start building your solution.

With this single registration you can get 4 full days of expert training and guidance that wraps up it’s final day on helping you and addressing your specific situation and needs!

“I live in Mississippi and traveled to Minnesota for the Surefoot 3-day Advanced training session, followed by 2 days of intensive training, and it was worth every mile of the trip. There were all levels of FileMaker developers in my class, which allowed us to learn from each others’ varied experiences. In spite of the immense amount of material we worked through, I never felt stressed or overwhelmed because Jim made the classroom setting so comfortable and laid back. I am also working with Jim now via the Remote (online) Training and cannot believe how much more I’ve learned and have been able to accomplish with Jim’s help and guidance. I give this course a 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone working on developing a FileMaker solution, no matter what your skill level.”

Karie Sorrells, eKnowledge Curator, Hybrid Plastics Inc. - Hattiesburg, MS

Training FAQ

Most students take their own laptops to the class and you are welcome to do so. With the exception of “Intro to FileMaker” class which only requires the standard version of FileMaker Pro 15, ALL CLASSES REQUIRE STUDENTS TO USE FILEMAKER PRO 15 ADVANCED. If you are taking your own computer, the appropriate FileMaker software must be installed and tested before class.

Yes, Surefoot will gladly provide workstations for users who do not take their own laptops. We normally require at least 4 days notice to prep workstations. If you do not yet have FMP Advanced, there are a dozen reasons why everyone doing regular FileMaker development should! Click here to Compare FileMaker Pro with FileMaker Pro Advanced.

Review FMP and FMPA
Surefoot’s primary training location is at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, MN, a first tier western suburb of Minneapolis just 10-minutes west of downtown. In addition to a being a great facility, there are dozens of restaurants within walking distance and several hotels within a few miles. If you are traveling to Minneapolis and want ideas of great things to see and do, let us know! The street address is 7520 Golden Valley Rd, Golden Valley, MN 55427.


Surefoot regularly provides custom training for clients in all of the following formats:

      • One-one-one and small team coaching/mentoring sessions (in-person and remotely via screen sharing)
      • Design and development of custom training materials and quick-guides (double-sided “cheat sheets”)
      • Small and large group training based on client’s requested areas of focus
      • Onsite training at client sites or another desired location

We have found that students who attend a training course before starting a coaching/mentoring relationship are more successful in building and supporting their databases.

Student Cancellations: Students who must cancel a class must contact Surefoot at least 7 days before the class begins. Please note that other students may be traveling long distance for the class and may have already paid for flights, etc. Late cancellations can have a significant impact on other students if a class must be cancelled due to insufficient enrollment.

Surefoot Class Cancellations: Surefoot reserves the right to cancel classes due to insufficient enrollment or other unforeseen circumstances. If your class is cancelled due to insufficient enrollment, we will notify you as soon as possible, but at least 5 days before the class start date. You may then transfer your registration to another scheduled class, or receive a full refund.

We know that learning new technologies can be overwhelming when it comes all at once (“drinking from a fire hose”). You may retake any of our courses for only $99 per day. Please note that retakes are on a space-available basis.