More Than Workshops

What other ways are there to participate in the Carpentries community?

There are a variety of ways people find The Carpentries. Belinda Weaver, of Griffith University and until recently, The Carpentries, blogged about her path. At CarpentryConnect Davis 2018, some of us discussed the different paths we had when joining this community. As you may see from the image below - no two people find their way into or around the Carpentries following the same path (zoom in to see details)…

Paths to the Carpentries

From early stages to building your own, here’s some ideas to get involved with the Carpentries:

1. Finding out

2. First steps

  • Attend a Carpentry (or Carpentry-style) workshop (upcoming workshops for Data Carpentry, Software Carpentry, and Library Carpentry)
  • Attend a user group or recurring help session (Some of them have websites - to find one in your area you may have to Google or find people who are using the tools you’re interested in learning)
  • Subscribe to our news letter (Carpentry Clippings is really good!)
  • Follow people on Twitter (like Tracy, Raniere, or Rayna)
  • Email someone associated with the Carpentries (find an instructor here: https://software-carpentry.org/team/)
  • Join a mentoring group as mentor or mentee (next round is coming up in January 2019!)

3. Volunteer!

The community is more than just Instructors.

4. Create community

5. Other themes that came out in our discussion

  • People are coming to The Carpentries through Carpentries-style teaching experiences.
  • Having someone with more experience to help with a first workshop was very helpful. Having only new people teach together can be anxiety-inducing. (More tips for instructors here)
  • You can start to feel a part of the community before instructor training by coming to events or being in Carpentries environments. (Email lists! Meetups! Lots of ways to be a part of the community)
  • A common obstacle is not knowing how to do local meetups - see point 3 under “Create Community” above for resources
  • People are friends and are instructors but do not have formal meetups which may make the community feel closed to newcomers
  • A Twitter list of people/topics to follow could be a way to see how to engage and learn about the community
  • For some people it took about a year from first exposure to considering/seeking instructor training. That doesn’t have to be the case for you
  • In-person meetups are even more important as people are more spread out across a university, or working remotely
  • People are using lesson materials in places outside of Carpentries workshops, for early-stage researchers, and for non-academics interested in research
  • Folks feel part of the community because they’re on email lists, getting Carpentry Clippings, and/or engaging with lesson materials
  • Running regular workshops helps get new instructors teaching
  • What works locally: Local communication channels. Maybe a website. Quarterly meetups. A challenge is to keep track of workshops being taught, and getting people to teach. More about the time than the wanting to teach. (Try postdocs!) Selling the teaching as teaching experience.
  • You can bridge out from one institution to others. Don’t think you only have to teach locally - sign up when there is a call for instructors elsewhere! It’s a great experience to see how others do it and teach in new environments. And your travel will be paid for!
  • Came for the teaching (pedagogy), stayed for the community. How do you go from “consumer” to “producer”/”creator”?

6. Some questions still on our minds

  1. Being an only instructor in an environment, how can you get community/workshops going? And once there is a community and workshops happening, what alternatives are there to meet up besides 2-day workshops?
  2. There are instructors, there are workshops, but how can you offer continuous learning opportunities - a peer learning community? Maybe recurring hacky hours is a good model.
  3. How do you motivate people? Where do you find people who are motivated? How can you leverage regional activities/collaborations?
  4. Any good incentives to offer to get people teaching?

7. How would you describe the Carpentries community?

It includes people interested in teaching computational skills in a friendly way.

This does not mean you need to be a certified instructor! People get together online and in person to discuss teaching approaches, and often in other spaces (e.g. RLadies, local meetups). The Carpentries community includes parts of those communities as well

Remember: You belong in the Carpentries!

If you’d like to share your own story, please follow the instructions here.


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