Rayna Harris's Year in Summary 2016

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

A year in review

I want to thank you for giving me the prilege to serve on the Software Carpentry Steering Committee. Here is a very brief recap of the year. Click this link to read my 2017 election post.

A year ago, I said I would focus my efforts on:

  1. integrating data from the mentoring and debriefing sessions with the assessment surveys to understand the degree of workshop effectiveness

  2. discussing the above information with lesson maintainers, who can decide if lessons need revision or not

  3. integrating the above with instructor-trainers and instructor-mentors to improve lesson delivery and ultimately student success

  4. streamlining the above processes so that new trainees can easily be incorporated into these leadership roles

Here is my recap of what we as a community have accomplished

  1. When subcommittees and subcommunities have an overlapping representation, it facilitates the transfer of ideas, concepts, and data across groups. I like to be in multiple groups so that I can better understand and identify shared challenges and opportunities. I’m excited to see some new and revamped programs for 2017 that are the results of share idea with members of the community. I’m really happy with the mentoring program, the communication revamp, monthly meeting, discussion sessions, newsletter, featured Data Carpentry Blogs.

  2. Lesson maintenance has undergone some changes for the better this year. Click here to read the October 2016 summary from Kate Hertweck.

  3. I unexpectedly jumped whole heartedly into the effort to integrate insight from the mentoring committee into the instructor trainer curriculum. Shortly after begin elected, I joined the ranks of the 20 instructor trainers. We had a crash course in training trainers and then were launched into teaching. I must say, I can now relate even better to the new instructors our there. I participated in 5 instructor training workshops and hosted about a dozen discussion sessions. The instructor training program is supported by membership agreements and grants, and I’m grateful we have the support and infrastructure to tranform research and education.

  4. We have elaborated the means to integrate new members into the community and into leadership roles. The community is always inventing and championing new ways to do what we do better. There are many pathways and vehicles for success in this organization, but sometimes its hard to navigate. We are working on improving all forms of communication, and we appreciate your patience and enthusiastic participation as we have navgated these growing pains.

A little more reflection

In the instructor training manual, one section compares self-directed learning and instructor guided learning. I believe I am constantly learning through mentored-learning and self-directed learning. I am fortunate to have mentors in this community that guide me with wisdom but also give the with support to explore uncharted territory. I think its important to know what balance of the two styles works for you.

You could even make an analogy that our community learns and grows in a similar manner through mentored- and self-guided learning. This year, new staff joined the community to bring expertise and facilite our growth in a mentor-guided fashion. I love that volunteers spearhead many novel activities in this community, but its great to balance this will with the wisdom of colleagues how have experience in the area. I think the Bug BBQ and the Instructor Discussion sessions are two awesome examples where many individuals in the community took leaderships/mentorship roles to enhance our curricula and instructor training program. We’ve are also seeing the great benefit that Data Carpentry staff hires have on our curricula and workshops; their knowledge has really helped us to implement some of the practices we value and preach but were not always successful at implmenting .

Communication is important and worth the effort. I’m trying to improve my communication in many ways. I’m glad I’m in good company of hundreds of people who also want to improve their communication, teaching, and research. I like that we can all make progress on this together as a community of geographically diverse members. I like hearing from you, and meeting in real life (IRL) is so awesome! I met Greg, Jonah, Belinda, Jason, Kate, Bill, and Maneesha in Cold Spring Harbour. I met Christina in Annapolis Maryland. Kate and I have used our departmental seminar resources to visit each other in Tyler and Austin, Texas. I met instructor trainees in Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Toronto, Washington D.C., Arizona, Seattle. Hopefully I’ll meet more of you in 2017! Check the meetup etherpad and add your travel plans.

Thank you!

I conclusion, I want to that you, the community, for giving me the opportunity to serve on the steering committee in 2017. Y’all have made significant contributions to my growth as a scientist. I volunteered a liiiiittle more time and mental effort to SWC than I anticipated, but it was so worth it. Either way, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that I am support by a fellowship from the The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School, which gives me considerable flexibility in my schedule to balance research in the Hans Hofmann Lab with volunteering for this amazing organization.

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