Site Planning for the Instructor and Helper Retreat

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

With less than three weeks to go before Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry's first ever Instructor and Helper Retreat coming up on November 14, many of the lead organizers for sites around the world got together this week to discuss plans and ideas for the event. Our goal for the retreat is to create opportunities for instructors, helpers, and the community to get together to practice teaching, break ground on new lessons, and start discussions. Here are just a few of the ideas coming up that you can get involved with.

  • Many sites will be organizing practice teaching sessions for instructors and helpers to try out new material, hone their skills and get some feedback from a friendly audience. If you've been thinking of teaching a new unit for the first time but aren't quite sure about rolling it out in front of students yet, or if you've never taught at a workshop before and would like a little more practice, this is your chance at a dry run. Sites worldwide will be running events like these, both live and online; get in touch of your local organizers or a site in your timezone, and they'll help get you on the local schedule.

  • One great new idea that came out of this discussion was a Worldwide Library Hour. More and more libraries and librarians are organizing, hosting and leading workshops, and the library community is demanding Carpentry-like lessons focused on the tools used in library collection management and cataloging. Mark Laufersweiler and Tracy Teal will be convening an open, hour-long online conversation about the intersection of the Carpentries and libraries. Get in touch with them if you'd like more details.

  • A number of groups will be hosting content sprints to generate, refine or enhance new lesson material in all of our lessons. For example, the Krakow team will be working out a collection of new multiple choice questions for the Shell and Git lessons, and library-focused work may come out of the Library Hour described above.

  • Some sites asked who would be welcome to attend the retreat; the answer is unequivocally "everyone", and if you'd like to open your doors to the broader community in your region, consider hosting an open house session. Many groups will be inviting people not currently involved in Software or Data Carpentry to come out, meet the community, and find out what we're up to. This is a particularly great opportunity for people in smaller communities or places without many instructors currently active; by throwing open our doors and reaching out to people who might be interested, we hope to encourage more workshops and more people to jump in as instructors and helpers.

  • Several round table discussion sessions are being planned at sites around the world, from collecting and processing student feedback (Montreal) and data management planning (Oklahoma) to adapting the Carpentries to non-science audiences (Toronto) and setting the right pace of a lesson (Krakow). Many of the roundtables will be broadcast and open to remote participation; feel free to get in touch with your site host to propose a new one.

  • A number of sites on the West Coast of North America are considering regional hangouts to create connections across their larger geographic neighborhood. In this way, we hope to enable the freer sharing of ideas and mutual support between neighboring communities.

These are just a few of the ideas that got brainstormed at this planning meeting, but the most important idea on the schedule of every site is yours. If you have a question, idea, or activity you'd like to take up with your local community, get in touch with your local site leader and they will gladly help you make it happen. You can find their contact info by finding your site on the map below, clicking on the pin and on through the Etherpad link that will appear.

There's still time to open new sites for the retreat and add broadcast talks and events to the schedule. If you want to get your event or your site on the map and schedule, open an issue here or email the Mentorship Committee and we'll get you plugged in right away.

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