Instructor Training: Checkout Instructions

Instructor Checkout

After completing the Instructor Training workshop, there are three final steps to complete before qualifying as an Instructor. Briefly, the three steps are:

  1. Make (and send us a link to) a small contribution to a lesson or glossary.
  2. Take part in an online community discussion session.
  3. Take part in an online teaching demonstration session.

All trainees have 3 months (90 days) from the end date of your training to complete checkout. If you need more time, 3-month extensions may be requested by emailing instructor.training@carpentries.org. Extensions may be granted for any reason up to 1 year from your training date.

1. Lesson Contributions

Keep It Simple!

The purpose of the lesson contribution is to demonstrate that you are prepared to draw upon your experience teaching Carpentries lessons to contribute towards their maintenance and improvement in the future. For this reason, we suggest starting small! Consider commenting on an existing issue, fixing a typo if you find one, or contributing a single term to our multilingual glossary. If you would like to help us out with something more substantial, consider selecting an item from our Help Wanted page.

What is an Issue? GitHub 101

The curriculum for this workshop, like all Carpentries curricula, is hosted on GitHub. This gives you access to a ‘back room’ where the code for the curriculum website is freely available, suggestions for changes can be proposed, and conversations about potential changes can be held.

To get there, try looking for a link that says “Improve this page”. In this curriculum, that is located at the top of the page.

Screen shot of the header for this page with Improve this page circled

Alternatively, you can find links to the GitHub repositories for each lesson next to the links to the rendered lessons on the websites listing Data Carpentry, Library Carpentry, or Software Carpentry workshops.

The browser view of the GitHub repository for this workshop looks like this:

Screen shot of Instructor Training GitHub repository in a browser with Issues and Pull Requests tabs circled

There are two tabs on this page that offer opportunities for interaction with the community that maintains this curriculum. The first is the “Issues” tab. When someone has an idea or suggestion, they can start a conversation about their idea by creating an Issue. Others can then comment on the Issue to provide feedback. Issues can be searched, using the search bar at the top:

Screen shot of Instructor Training GitHub repository with Issues tab selected and search bar and New Issue button circled

If you have an idea, it is a good idea to search first to see if anyone else has already suggested it! If so, you can add your thoughts as a comment on the existing issue instead of starting a new one. Either way, you will get credit for your contribution to the conversation. Note that you must be signed in to GitHub to be able to see the comment box at the bottom of each issue.

Screen shot of Instructor Training GitHub repository with a single Issue selected and comment box circled

If you find something that you know how to fix by changing the code of the lesson, you may instead wish to submit a Pull Request (PR). You can also view and comment on existing PRs. We will not cover the details of how to create a PR, but there is a community-contributed guide that can help.

Each lesson repository has a document, named CONTRIBUTING.md, that outlines contribution guidelines. The one for this repository is here. Maintainers for each repository may choose to customize their own guidelines.

Alternatives to GitHub

All Carpentries curricula (including this one) are hosted on GitHub. Learning to interact on GitHub can have many benefits, including the ability to contribute to other open-source projects! However, we understand that there are many reasons why trainees may wish to avoid engaging on GitHub. That’s ok!

For this checkout task, you may email your contribution to instructor.training@carpentries.org. Be sure to include a link to the lesson or site that you are addressing in your contribution. A Carpentries Core Team member will add your contribution to the relevant repository on your behalf (e.g. by creating an issue), and will send you a link so that you may view any responses by the maintainers.

Help Wanted: Breaking Down Barriers

At The Carpentries, we know all too well that tools and technical procedures can present a serious barrier to progress. That is why we exist! So we appreciate the irony when participation in our community demands tools or technical procedures that may not be familiar or accessible to all who wish to contribute. GitHub, in particular is often recognized as an obstacle; this is something our community has discussed extensively.

We are actively invested in making our processes as friendly and inclusive as possible, and that includes supporting our community in surmounting the barriers presented by our own technologies of choice. Watch our channels for opportunities to develop your skills as a contributor! In the mean time, if you have any ideas about how we can make our resources more contributor-friendly, please let us know.

Eligible Repositories

Contributions to repositories that are not managed by The Carpentries, including forks of Carpentries repositories, are not eligible for checkout contributions. This is because The Carpentries Code of Conduct does not apply outside of Carpentries spaces.

We recommend that contributions be directed to:

With the exception of Glossario, please be cautious about proposing new content or exercises. Most of our lessons are full to bursting! The greater challenge, in most cases, is identifying where and how to cut.

What Comes Next?

If you submit your own contribution, be sure to send an email with a link to instructor.training@carpentries.org. Pay attention to GitHub notifications in case the Maintainers or others have follow-up questions or requests. However, also keep in mind that Carpentries lesson Maintainers, like Instructors, are mostly volunteers! Some repositories are vigorously maintained; others may have slower response times. Do not take it personally if your contribution does not get a prompt response. Your contribution does not need to be reviewed or accepted in order for you to become an Instructor.

2. Community Discussion

The purpose of having you attend a Community Discussion is to introduce you to other members of our global community and to demonstrate an ongoing resource for support and advice as you develop your teaching practice.

Community Discussion meetings occur several times a week and may take different forms. The most common type of Community Discussion meeting is designed to support Instructors in preparing to teach an upcoming workshop and to provide a forum for sharing lessons learned by those who have recently taught. If there are no workshops to discuss on the agenda, then the facilitator will lead a conversation about teaching and preparing to teach, engaging the interests of participants. These meetings are most often led by a member of the Instructor Development committee or The Carpentries Core Team.

In some cases, a Community Discussion meeting may be used for regional community-building, to invite the community to connect with representatives from specific Carpentries committees or subcommunities, or to address a theme of special interest to our community.

When signing up on the Community Discussion Etherpad, be sure to examine the description of your event carefully. Also, take care to double check the time zone, and mark your calendar after signing up! At the time of the event, the Zoom link may be found at the top of the Etherpad.

Carpentries Tools: Etherpad

The Etherpad is a collaborative note taking tool that is widely used in Carpentries workshops and many other activities in the community. We also use Etherpads for sign-ups and notes on recurring events, like community discussions and teaching demonstrations. Most Etherpads for recurring events are linked from our “pad of pads”. This is a great one to bookmark and use as a reference throughout your checkout process and as a newly minted member of The Carpentries community.

What Should I Say?

Joining a meeting to “discuss” teaching practices with strangers can feel a little intimidating! If you have enjoyed meeting the people at your Instructor Training workshop (we hear this a lot!) you will probably enjoy meeting people at your discussion session, too.

Being prepared to participate does not mean you need to do any homework in advance! However, it can help to put a little thought into what questions you have about training. In case you need a little inspiration, here are a few themes to consider:

Community Discussions are Not Just for Checkout!

Community Discussion meetings are an excellent opportunity to get help as you prepare to teach and to engage in vital reflection on your teaching practice while connecting with a community of like- minded Instructors. You are invited to attend these at any time! If you think you might enjoy hosting them, or would like to help develop other opportunities for Instructors, consider joining the Instructor Development Committee.

Ongoing support

Instructors are highly encouraged to participate in Community Discussions before and after each workshop they teach, so that they can continue to learn from each other and advance their teaching skills. To work more intensively on specific aspects of your teaching practice, consider participating in The Carpentries Mentoring program!

In-Person and Virtual Alternatives

Occasionally, a special in-person Community Discussion event may be approved to occur in-person. This is most common in areas with limited internet access or in association with larger events like conferences or extended workshops. In addition, Carpentries communities occasionally host conferences virtually or in-person that invite you to form a deeper connection with your local or global Carpentries community. Registered in-person Community Discussion meetings, CarpentryCon, and CarpentryConnect events are all eligible to satisfy the Community Discussion requirement.

Getting Credit

After each Community Discussion meeting, hosts submit a form that includes the names of attendees who identified themselves as fulfilling their checkout requirement. This is indicated by writing “checkout” next to your name in the Etherpad. As long as you indicate that you are completing checkout and attend the event you are signed up for, it is not necessary to email us after attending a standard Community Discussion meeting.

If you attend an in-person meeting or a CarpentryCon/Connect event, please verify with your host if they plan to report checkout attendance. If you are not sure whether your attendance has been reported, you can email us at instructor.training@carpentries.org to confirm.

3. Teaching Demonstration

The teaching demonstration serves several purposes. First and foremost, it is an opportunity to both give and receive feedback on a more polished presentation after you have had some time to reflect on your lesson and what you have learned in this workshop. In addition, it is an opportunity to spend some time preparing a lesson well in advance of your first workshop. This will ease your preparations when the date of that workshop approaches. Finally, it is an opportunity to receive feedback from a Carpentries Instructor Trainer (like your Trainers at today’s event), who will help make sure you are prepared for a strong start.

Not a High Stakes Test

It can be nerve-wracking to perform in front of others! This is true when you teach, too. As much as possible, try to relax and enjoy this friendly opportunity for feedback and connection with others in our community. Remember to embrace your mistakes!

In some cases, an Instructor Trainer may ask you to repeat your teaching demonstration another time prior to certification. If this happens, they will be very clear about exactly what they would like you to change on your second appearance, and why. These requests are made with your interests in mind – we want you to be prepared for success when you set out to teach!

Trainers draw from their own experience and training when they evaluate teaching demonstrations, but we do provide a rubric for their reference. This can be a helpful resource as you prepare.

1 Lesson = Several Episodes: preparing to teach a lesson.

For your teaching demonstration, you will prepare to teach a complete lesson from one of the Carpentries lesson programs. Please refer to the lists of Data Carpentry lessons, Library Carpentry lessons, and Software Carpentry lessons on the websites.

A “lesson” corresponds to a single line in the lesson table and a single repository in GitHub. (An example of a lesson: R for Reproducible Scientific Analysis. Some lessons have supplementary modules. You do not need to be prepared to teach the supplementary modules for your teaching demonstration.

The Trainer hosting the teaching demonstration session may choose any episode of the lesson from this list of suggested episodes for you to teach. (An example for an episode could be: Data Structures). Because we are particularly interested in your use of participatory live coding (or participatory work with spreadsheets etc.), you will not be asked to teach episodes that lack participatory content or that require files or other output from previous episodes.

If your chosen lesson does not have any suggested episodes for start points listed or is not on the list, please consider choosing a different lesson. Alternatively, if you think your lesson has good start points for participatory instruction, you may email the Trainer hosting your demo to request advice on whether your lesson will work for a checkout demo. Be sure to give yourself time to change course if your planned lesson will not work.

Sign-up and Set-up

To sign up, select a session that works for you on the the teaching demo schedule Etherpad, and add your name and a link to your lesson of choice to the Etherpad. Be sure to double check the time in your local time zone by clicking on the converter link posted. Also, examine the demo description to ensure that it is not a special session targeting a specific sub-community or language (unless you are part of that target group).

The link to connect to the video conference is at the top of the Etherpad. Your Trainer may send an email with confirmation and/or additional instructions prior to your demo. If possible, plan to use a headset with built in microphone for the best audio experience.

During the Demo

For your demonstration(s), you will screen-share and live code (or teach other participatory content) for 5 minutes. You may use whatever notes you want, but please do not display them on your screen. Teach as you would in an actual workshop. When your five minutes are up, the Trainer leading the session will call time, and then you and everyone else taking part in the session will give feedback on your teaching. You will be asked to give feedback on yourself as well as on others; your Trainer will likely recommmend a feedback structure using two axes of positive vs. negative and content vs. presentation, just as you have done during this workshop.

Languages Other than English

If you want to do your demonstration in a language other than English, please let us know in advance so that we can attempt to find someone to moderate. We may not be able to accommodate all languages.

Getting Credit

After each teaching demonstration, Trainers submit a form that includes the names and passing status of each attendee. They will also email you to let you know, as this information is typically not shared during the demo session. It is not necessary to email us after you have attended your teaching demonstration.

4. Tracking Your Progress

After you complete this workshop, your application will be matched to your training record and a profile will be created in The Carpentries database, AMY. You can monitor your checkout progress by logging on to our database, AMY, using your GitHub ID. If you have any questions or did not provide a GitHub user name when registering for training, please email us at instructor.training@carpentries.org.

Keeping your profile up to date with a current email address and local airport helps us to keep in touch about teaching opportunities. You may also adjust your preferences to select whether you want to have your profile shared on our Instructors page.

5. Congratulations!

Approximately 1-2 weeks after your last step is complete, you should receive an email with your Carpentries Instructor badge. Hooray!