Teaching: 10 min
Exercises: 15 min
  • Who are we and how do we approach teaching?

  • What should you expect from this workshop?

  • Introduce yourself to your fellow workshop participants.

  • Describe what will and will not be covered in this workshop.

  • Understand that The Carpentries is a community of volunteers who develop lessons and teach workshops on basic computing and data skills for researchers.

Pronouns and Names

Using correct names and pronouns is important to setting a tone of respect. Learning these is hard to do quickly, so we recommend displaying it prominently during the workshop.

If on Zoom, give everyone a moment to update their display name to reflect this information.

If in person, encourage attendees to put this information on worn name tags or table-displayed name placards.

Note that pronouns are personal and some participants might prefer not to share them. Do not force people to share their pronouns.

Before The Course Begins

Getting to know each other

If the Trainer has chosen an icebreaker question, participate by writing your answers in the course’s shared notes.

Code of Conduct

To make clear what is expected, everyone participating in The Carpentries activities is required to conform to our Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct applies to all spaces managed by The Carpentries including, but not limited to workshops, email lists, online forums and on GitHub. Please review the Code of Conduct to familiarise yourself with it.


Introductions set the stage for learning.

— Tracy Teal, Former Executive Director, The Carpentries

Hello everyone, and welcome to The Carpentries instructor training. We are very pleased to have you with us.

Today’s Trainers

To begin class, each Trainer should give a brief introduction of themselves.

(For some guidelines on introducing yourself, see some content from later in the workshop: Workshop Introductions)

Now we would like to get to know all of you.

Reviewing The Carpentries Experience and Goals

Please answer the following questions in the shared notes document:

Have you ever participated in a Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, or Library Carpentry Workshop?

  1. Yes, I have taken a workshop.
  2. Yes, I have been a workshop helper.
  3. Yes, I organized a workshop.
  4. No, but I am familiar with what is taught at a workshop.
  5. No, and I am not familiar with what is taught at a workshop.

Which of these most accurately describes your teaching experience?

  1. I have been a graduate or undergraduate teaching assistant for a university/college course.
  2. I have not had any teaching experience in the past.
  3. I have taught a seminar, workshop, or other short or informal course.
  4. I have been the instructor-of-record for my own university/college course.
  5. I have taught at the primary or secondary education level.
  6. I have taught informally through outreach programs, hackathons, libraries, laboratory demonstrations, and similar activities.

Why are you taking this course? What goals do you have for today and tomorrow?

If time permits, the Trainer may have you discuss these answers in small groups (in breakout rooms if online), or all together as a group.

To make sure everyone has the same context, we will give a brief overview of The Carpentries organization before starting the training.

A Brief Overview of The Carpentries

Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, and Library Carpentry are official Lesson Programs of The Carpentries. Together, they comprise communities of volunteer researchers, educators, and more who develop lessons and teach intensive one to two day workshops on basic computing and data skills for researchers.

The main goal of The Carpentries is not to teach specific skills, per se - although those are covered - but rather, to convey best practices that will enable researchers to be more productive and do better research.

Instructor Training Workshop Overview

The goal of this two-day training is to provide you with the skills and information you need to become a certified Carpentries Instructor. Our expectations of certified Carpentries Instructors is that they:

These four goals are broken down into four main modules of content:

How Learning Works

One of our main emphases will be discussing the “best practices” of teaching. We will be introducing you to a handful of key educational research findings and demonstrating how they can be used to help people learn better and faster.

Building Teaching Skill

Just like learning a new language, a musical instrument, or a sport, teaching is a skill that requires practice and feedback. We will have many opportunities to practice and give each other feedback throughout this workshop. We welcome questions and dialogue at any point. We will be using the Etherpad to help facilitate discussion. Please feel free to ask questions verbally or to put them into the notes or chat box of the Etherpad.

Creating a Positive Learning Environment

One part of making this a productive two days for all of us is a community effort to treat one another with kindness and respect. This training, as in all Carpentries workshops, is subject to the Code of Conduct. We will be able to give our best effort (and have the most fun!) if everyone abides by these guidelines. We will also be discussing and practicing teaching techniques to create a positive and welcoming environment in your classrooms.

The Carpentries History and Culture

We will be introducing you to the teaching practices that have been adopted by The Carpentries community, and our overall philosophy and procedures in order to prepare you to teach Carpentries workshops. The greatest asset of The Carpentries is people like yourselves - people who want to help researchers learn about these ideas and share their own experience and enthusiasm. We hope that this training gives everyone a chance to meet new people and share ideas.

To orient yourself, there is a schedule on the workshop webpage which is linked through this workshop’s Etherpad.

What We Leave Out

We will not be going over Data Carpentry, Library Carpentry, or Software Carpentry workshop content in detail (although you will get familiarity with some of the content through the exercises), This workshop is a significant requirement for becoming a certified Carpentries Instructor. The additional steps for certification will require that you dig into the workshop content yourself. We will talk about that more tomorrow afternoon.

We also do not discuss how to develop lessons. Many of the ideas we present can be applied to lesson development, and we will briefly touch on a method of lesson design called “Reverse Instructional Design”, but it will not be an emphasis of this particular course.

If there is a particular topic that you would like us to address, let the trainers know.

Let us Get Started

Now that we have a road map of what we are covering we are ready to begin our training. Our goal is that by the end, you will have acquired some new knowledge, confidence, and skills that you can use in your teaching practice in general and in teaching Carpentries workshops specifically.

Key Points

  • The Carpentries is a community of practice. We strive to provide a welcoming environment for all learners and take our Code of Conduct seriously.

  • This episode sets the stage for the entire workshop. The introductions and exercises help everyone begin to develop a relationship and trust.

  • This workshop will cover general teaching pedagogy and how it applies specifically to The Carpentries.

  • Learner motivation and prior knowledge vary widely, but can be assessed with a quick multiple choice question.