Mentoring Groups Showcase their Accomplishments

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

We just finished our second round of mentoring groups and had an amazing showcase of their work and ideas. In this round, we were more specific and focused on multiple topic areas. There were groups on community building, lesson maintenance, and preparing for instructor checkout.

The feedback and outcomes were great! Participants were able to focus on specific goals, including teaching their first workshop and developing new lesson contribution material. Being part of a group that addressed something important to them, (e.g. developing new communities in Japan and Singapore), made the mentoring groups powerful and enjoyable.

Read about what community members have accomplished in these mentoring groups, find out how to get involved, or give feedback on how mentoring would be useful to you!

The second round of the Carpentries mentoring groups began on 25 October, 2017. Goals of the revised mentoring groups were to offer curriculum-specific mentoring, and encourage groups to focus their efforts on lesson maintenance, teaching, organizing workshops, or building local communities. If you missed the wrap-up of the first round of mentoring, check out this blog post.

Over a period of four months, 20 mentors and 39 mentees (a total 14 groups) representing eight time zones met either in-person or virtually to accomplish specific goals. Kari Jordan hosted a training session on 9 November, 2017 to help mentors prepare for their first meeting, and to discuss goal setting. On 28 November, 2017, mentors participated in a “power check-in” to discuss issues and any concerns they were having with their groups. These were mostly scheduling-related as we were nearing the holiday season.

Results from the mid-program survey showed that several groups were working on projects to build local communities, and several group members were preparing to teach specific Carpentries lessons. Participants identified several resources that would improve their experience, such as a dedicated Slack channel, and more time to work with their groups. A mentoring Slack channel was created, and the program was extended from 10 January, 2018 to 6 February, 2018.

The culmination of this mentoring period was the mentoring groups’ virtual showcase, which took place on 6 February, 2018. Two showcases to accommodate multiple time zones hosted a total of 25 attendees. During this time, mentoring group representatives presented slides showcasing either what they learned, or something cool they developed during their mentoring period. A lively discussion took place on the etherpad, and several resources were added to the mentoring-groups repo on GitHub. Here are a few highlights from the showcase:

  • Kayleigh taught her first workshop as a qualified instructor at the first ever Library Carpentry workshop in Ethiopia.
  • Katrin completed the check-out process and onboarded as an r-novice-inflammation lesson Maintainer.
  • One of the African mentoring groups emphasized the value of community in helping to get workshops organized.
  • Saran was able to connect with some regional Carpentries advocates in North Texas, and he will be attending his first workshop as a learner in the next few months!
    • This allowed Saran’s mentor, Jamie, to reconnect with the North Texas instructors she had previously co-instructed a workshop with. They opened a discussion about their burgeoning Carpentries efforts at their respective institutions.
  • A local data science community was started at the University of Konstanz, Germany.
  • Robin got to live-demo an R lesson.
  • Blake’s workshop ran in January and got snowed in!
  • One group developed a program plan for the mentees in the group based on their goals and interests. Check out this sample plan.
  • Chris was able to sign up for instructor training and reconnect with a community of Carpentries folk at Vanderbilt.
  • Simon found out who to get in touch with, and will be an instructor at a Stanford workshop in March.
  • Toby contributed improvements to mentoring material on GitHub.
  • One group drafted step-by-step instructions for beginners to contribute to lessons using the terminal or a web browser.
  • Malvika contributed to the CarpentryCon taskforce and shared ideas with Kari for the next mentoring round.
  • One group used the evolving community ‘cookbook’ to plan activities in Japan and Singapore.

Did you miss the showcase? Check out the recording from the second showcase!

Why should you participate in mentoring?

Both mentors and mentees received certificates for participating in their groups, and several group members plan to continue working together beyond this round of mentoring. Mentoring group participants were asked to tell the community why they should participate in mentoring. Here is what they said:

  • It gives you a direct and personal channel for questions and support.
  • You get to know other Carpentries colleagues from across the world at differing levels of experience.
  • You accomplish goals you probably wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise.
  • You learn new things and gain new perspectives.
  • You meet more community members.
  • It speeds up instructor checkout, and brings forward the first teaching experience at a workshop.
  • You become more confident contributors and practice PRs on lessons before submitting them to the main repo.
  • It’s very rewarding to help people with SWC material in an in-depth, one-on-one setting.
  • You never know what connections you will make!
  • You gain community connections and support to grow our collective abilities.
  • You get advice on organising workshops.
  • You get help when starting a community from scratch.
  • It’s a great opportunity to learn more about Carpentries programs and to make connections with current instructors.
  • You receive positive feedback for running a workshop.

Mentoring group meetup in Germany. Photo credit: G Zeller (EMBL Bio-IT) Mentoring group meetup in Germany. Photo credit: G Zeller (EMBL Bio-IT)

Where do we go from here?

The post-mentoring survey results showed that the major concerns during this period of mentoring were finding a schedule that suited everyone. Additionally, several participants suggested that a longer duration would be useful. Lastly, there were recommendations for open selection of mentoring groups.

As a result of the feedback from this round of mentoring, and discussions among the mentoring sub-committee, we are in the process of developing the instructor discussion sessions so that they include ongoing mentoring for new instructors and experienced community members. Look for the next round of mentoring to begin this April!

In the meantime, get involved with mentoring by requesting to join the mentoring Slack channel and/or attending the next Mentoring Sub-committee meeting.

Are these things that would help you, or keep you engaged with the Carpentries? Tweet us your thoughts (@datacarpentry, @swcarpentry, @thecarpentries, @drkariljordan) using the hashtag #carpentriesmentoring.

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