Instructor Trainer Training: Knowing When to Hold ‘Em

Trainer Training Postponed

The purpose of this blog post is, first and foremost, to let those who are eagerly awaiting our next Instructor Trainer Training know that we will not be running one in October-December 2019 as we had previously planned. Our next Trainer onboarding opportunity will most likely come in January 2020, with applications in November 2019.

(Instructor Training events, in contrast, run year round and individual applications are always accepted here. Access to Instructor Training is also available through Organisational Memberships.)

With that out of the way, though, we can get to the important question you might be asking next: why not?

There are SO many great reasons to keep onboarding more Instructor Trainers! Our memberships are growing steadily. Many new members would like to have an Instructor Trainer at home to support training and lead their community. Trainers make great community leaders and often pioneer growth in new directions wherever they are. Carpentries Instructor Trainers are just amazing and wonderful people, each of whom brings their own special strength to the community. Who wouldn’t want more??

We DO want more. But, we also need to be cautious in our growth and adequately and sustainably support the program as it scales. As our Trainer community grows, there’s additional coordination and support needed, as well as updates to resources. Additionally new Trainers need opportunities to teach at least twice a year. If our Trainer community grows at a rate that outstrips the availability of those opportunities, those new Trainers not only don’t gain experience, they don’t feel connected to the community as an active participant. While it might seem like an easy extension to “just” run more Instructor Training workshops, our capacity to administer these workshops and run the Instructors they launch through checkout is limited. When someone volunteers to become an Instructor Trainer, we want to be able to sweep them up and get them engaged right away, giving them valuable experience to share with the next set of new trainees and contribute towards the improvement of the program.

In addition, Instructor Trainers are a community unto themselves. This community has grown from 14 to 76 members since January 2017! As this community grows, new challenges related to communication, cohesion, and community governance arise. Curriculum oversight, too, with an active community of collaborative contributors, becomes more complex. Tending to these issues now, and creating a plan for sustainable community growth and leadership, takes time. This is a plan we’re excited to invest time in this fall and beyond!

Finally, the question at the core of this decision – “how many Trainers do we need?” – was surprisingly difficult to answer! As our data-driven community might understand, sometimes answering straightforward questions with data is less straightforward than you think. Because of this, despite our best efforts, there’s a chance we got this wrong and will find ourselves struggling to meet demand in early 2020. However, getting a grip on those data also takes time, and in stepping back from additional onboardings we’re looking forward to having a good sit-down with our numbers and the people who know them. In the future, we hope to have a process to systematically assess and project – in advance! – our needs and capacity for growth in the Instructor Trainer community.

We’re a ‘yes, and’ community, so we never like to say ‘no’ to enthusiastic community-members who want to bring new energy to our programs! This was a tough decision to make. However, there are many ways to take on leadership in the Carpentries community, and becoming an Instructor Trainer is only one of them. So our current ‘and’ is being a part of these communities, and we hope that those of you who are eager to join this group will find opportunities to make an impact in other ways for now. We look forward to reviewing an even more vigorous and engaged crop of applicants in November! Contact me if you’d like to be notified about our next Instructor Trainer Training application round when it opens.

Dialogue & Discussion