State of the State: Instructor Checkout

Authors: Erin Becker BLOG

“An updated history of how new Instructors become certified”

This blog post is the second in a series examining the roles and contributions of the different parts of the Carpentry community. In case you missed it - read the first post in this series, about Maintainers.

Carpentry Instructors are the core of our community. Without Instructors, there would be no workshops. Because of the vital role that Instructors play in advancing the Carpentry mission, we as a community take preparing Instructors very seriously. Before becoming certified Instructors, trainees must show familiarity with our curriculum, demonstrate their teaching skills (with a focus on the Carpentry pedagogical model), and interact with the broader Carpentry community. Software Carpentry Instructors also need to demonstrate familiarity with Git and GitHub.

Since 2015, these goals have been served by a three-part checkout mechanism: Submitting a lesson contribution, Participating in an instructor discussion session, and Presenting a short teaching demonstration.

These steps are estimated to take a total of 8-10 hours and are overseen by the Maintainers group, the Mentoring Subcommittee, and the Trainers group, respectively. These groups frequently discuss how to ensure that our checkout process is continuing to meet the needs of new Instructors as our community grows and changes.

Recently, staff facilitated a set of discussions with the Mentoring Subcommittee, Maintainers, and Trainers, to understand whether there were reasons to remove one or more of the steps of the checkout process, and more broadly, to understand how members of these groups feel these steps are meeting Instructor’s needs. Getting input from each of these groups proved to be vital, as different parts of the community had different perspectives about these steps and how they affect Instructor preparation. Although the decision at this time was to maintain the current checkout process, there were many ideas raised about how we can change this process in the future to better align with the needs of new Instructors.

The three topics raised for discussion were:

To summarize, although all three steps of the checkout process will remain the same for the time being (with the minor change that trainees will now be able to schedule their teaching demonstration with any Trainer), there have been many good ideas generated during this discussion process that will help us as we plan future revisions to continue to meet the needs of our community. If you’re interested in learning more about these conversations, read:

Preparing new Instructors is an important job that is shared across our community. There are many ways you can be involved!

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Dialogue & Discussion