Teaching: 15 min
Exercises: 15 min
  • What is The Carpentries and how do we approach teaching?

  • What should you expect from this workshop?

  • Identify common ground with some of your fellow workshop participants.

  • Understand a general structure and core goals of The Carpentries.

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

  • Know where to find The Carpentries Code of Conduct and how to report an incident.

Pronouns and Names

Using correct names and pronouns (e.g. “she/her”) is important to setting a tone of respect. Learning these is hard to do quickly, so we recommend displaying it prominently during the workshop.

In an online workshop, give everyone a moment to update their display name to reflect how they would like to be addressed.

At an in-person event, we recommend supplying name tags and markers, or using plain paper to create 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.

Photograph of an icebreaker ship
A different kind of “icebreaker.” Photo credit: Grand-Duc, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Grand-Duc

Before The Course Begins

Getting to know each other

If the Trainer has chosen an icebreaker question, participate by writing your answers in the Etherpad.

Code of Conduct

To make clear what is expected, everyone participating in The Carpentries activities is required to abide by our Code of Conduct. Any form of behaviour to exclude, intimidate, or cause discomfort is a violation of the Code of Conduct. In order to foster a positive and professional learning environment we encourage you to:

If you believe someone is violating the Code of Conduct, we ask that you report it to The Carpentries Code of Conduct Committee by completing this form.


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

For the multiple choice questions below, please place an “X” next to the response(s) that best apply to you. Then find yourself a spot in the Etherpad below to write a short response to the last question.

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?

This exercise should take about 5 minutes for responses, with an optional 10 for additional discussion as time permits.

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

Image of action figures in a workshop with Instructor, Co-Instructor, Helper, and Sticky Notes labeled

Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, and Library Carpentry are official Lesson Programs of The Carpentries. Together, they form a global community of volunteer researchers, educators, and others oriented around improving basic computing and data skills for researchers through intensive, short-format workshops.

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

These four goals are broken down into four main themes 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.

Creating a Positive Learning Environment

One part of making this a productive experience for all of us is a community effort to treat one another with kindness and respect. The Code of Conduct is one piece of this. We will also be discussing and practicing teaching techniques to create a positive and welcoming environment in your classrooms, and will spend some time talking about why this is so important.

The Carpentries History and Culture

In addition to the teaching practices and philosophy that have been adopted by The Carpentries community, it is helpful to become familiar with our community structure and organisational procedures as you prepare to join our Instructor community. The greatest asset of The Carpentries is people like you - people who want to help researchers learn new skills and share their own experience and enthusiasm. Meeting your fellow trainees and Instructor Trainers at today’s event is your first step into The Carpentries community.

What We Leave Out

We will not be going over Data Carpentry, Library Carpentry, or Software Carpentry workshop content in detail (although you will gain 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, called Checkout, 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. The Carpentries now has a growing subcommunity dedicated to lesson development, along with its own onboarding curriculum. For more on lesson development, see The Carpentries website.

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

What Questions Do You Have?

We hope and expect that you will have many questions during this training! Please do not keep them to yourself. If you find something unclear, chances are good that others will have the same question, too. It is ok to ask even if you think you might have missed an answer already given (e.g. during a distracted moment or a dropped connection)! Depending on the time available, your Trainers may ask you to share your questions verbally, in the Etherpad, or otherwise.

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 evidence-based teaching practices and how they apply specifically to The Carpentries.

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