Become a Carpentries Instructor

We are always glad to welcome new Instructors to our community!

A Carpentries Instructor is a person who has completed our two-day Instructor training course workshop, and has performed the required follow-up tasks to complete the checkout process to become a certified (or ‘badged’) Instructor. Our Instructor training has the following overall goals:

  • Introduce participants to evidence-based teaching practices.
  • Teach participants how to create a positive environment for learners at workshops.
  • Provide opportunities for participants to practise and build teaching skills.
  • Help participants become integrated into the Carpentries community.
  • Prepare participants to use these skills in teaching Carpentry workshops.

Who are the Instructors?

Our Instructor community includes researchers, librarians, data scientists, and many others from a wide range of backgrounds, disciplines, career stages, and countries. Many of our Instructors are people who have attended a Carpentries workshop, and who have been inspired to go on and train as Instructors to share the skills they learned and now use in their work.

What knowledge is needed?

Some would-be Instructors worry about how knowledgeable one has to be about the material we teach in order to become an Instructor. While our Instructors have experience in one or more of our content areas, such as shell, git, SQL, Python, R, OpenRefine or spreadsheet software, some are relatively new to the skills.

Some people might be surprised to hear that feeling like a content ‘expert’ is not a necessary qualification to becoming an Instructor! We encourage newer learners to become Instructors. This is because:

a) often the best people to teach a novice level curriculum are not experts, but rather people who have recently been novices themselves (we’ll discuss why this is so in the training!) b) teaching is actually an excellent way to become more familiar with the material.

And because Carpentries Instructors never teach alone, you will always have help around if you get stuck!

Many Instructors add to the number of lessons they feel comfortable teaching only gradually. Not knowing the material well should not hold you back from applying to become an Instructor. However, if you do want to apply, it would be useful to have attended a Carpentries workshop either as a learner or helper and have some familiarly with at least one of the topics. That way, you will know more about what being an Instructor involves, and you can assess whether the workshop style and teaching method are for you. Having already participated in a workshop will be a plus on our scoring rubric if you decide to apply.

Motivation for people to train as Instructors

People train as Instructors for many reasons:

  1. To make their own lives better. By teaching their peers how to build and share better software, our Instructors are indirectly helping to create things that they themselves can use.
  2. To build a reputation. Teaching a workshop is a great way for people to introduce themselves to places they would eventually like to work, and a great way to make contact with potential collaborators.
  3. To get practice teaching. We are training more Instructors every year, and giving them opportunities to teach, which is useful for people with academic careers in mind.
  4. To help get people of diverse backgrounds into the pipeline. Some of our Instructors are involved in part because they want computational science to include people from a broader range of backgrounds.
  5. Teaching forces you to learn new things, or learn old things in more detail than you already know. See this paper: Graduate Students’ Teaching Experiences Improve Their Methodological Research Skills”.
  6. To make the world a better place.
  7. To acquire useful skills for careers. Instructors can expect to develop this skill set. You can re-use and re-purpose this wording for use in grant and job applications and for your CV.
  8. To join a community of people who care about inclusive teaching of computational skills.
  9. Because it’s fun. It really is !

Read more about Instructor motivations in Dr. Beth Duckles’s report, Value of Software Carpentry to Instructors.

Steps to becoming an Instructor

Anyone who supports the aims of The Carpentries is welcome to apply for Instructor training. However, we are not able to guarantee training to all applicants. While we would like to help everyone, we do need to prioritise people at our member organisations, who have provided funding to us to ensure that they can develop Instructor capacity in-house.

Therefore, if you are at an institution that is not affiliated to The Carpentries, there may be a substantial wait to become trained as an instructor.

We periodically review and score applications that have been submitted. When training places go unclaimed by member institutions, we invite applicants in order of scoring to fill any training seats unclaimed by a member institution.

How do we score applicants? See our scoring rubric.

To request training as an Instructor, please fill out this form.

Occasionally, open training events offered to the general public may be announced in our mailing list, newsletter, Carpentry Clippings, or through our Twitter feed. For all other events, applicants from our waiting lists are personally invited to attend as seats become available.