Changes to Instructor Checkout

Starting 14 August, 2023 (today!), there are more options available for trainees to complete the process of certifying as a Carpentries Instructor!

Summary of the updated checkout process:

What has changed?

A diagram showing relationships between previous and new checkout requirements A visual guide to the changes we are making to The Carpentries Instructor checkout process. For more details, each step is described below.

Teaching Demonstration

A teaching demonstration is an online session where trainees perform 5-minutes of teaching, receive feedback, and share feedback for others. Teaching demos are hosted by Carpentries certified Instructor Trainers, who report this step as “passed” when trainees have successfully demonstrated essential Carpentries teaching practices.

Previously: Trainees were required to prepare to teach the full lesson prior to performing their teaching demonstration. The Trainer hosting the session would select a starting point within the lesson during the demonstration. This supported Instructor preparation for their first teaching experience, but it also made the demo more challenging and created inequities among lessons based on the number of usable episodes they contained.

Now: Trainees will now be allowed to select a specific episode (a section of a Carpentries lesson) with live coding, or other participatory content, to present at their demo. Since the primary purpose of the teaching demonstration is to evaluate teaching practices, it was determined that this can be evaluated without asking trainees to prepare every episode in a lesson.

This will reduce the stress of preparing for the teaching demonstration and allow trainees to focus on their teaching style. It does add a new responsibility to select a suitable episode with participatory content. A list of episodes eligible for use in teaching demonstrations may be found in our Instructor Training Curriculum.

We will not be making any changes to the process for signing up for teaching demonstrations at this time. To sign up, trainees should visit the Teaching Demonstrations Etherpad

Community Discussion -> Welcome Session

“Community Discussion” has historically described a wide variety of events hosted through The Carpentries. A Welcome Session is a new type of Community Discussion that is specifically for new community members. (With recent changes, Community Discussions are now more narrowly defined as a sub-type of Community Sessions - you can read more about that in our Handbook)

Previously: Many types of Carpentries community events could fulfill the Community Discussion requirement, including CarpentryCon or CarpentryConnect events, skill-ups, and regional meetings. This resulted in inconsistent experiences that did not always match the goals of this step, which were to support Instructors in joining the community and preparing to teach.

Now: Welcome Sessions will be specifically required as a part of checkout. Welcome sessions are designed to onboard new community-members to The Carpentries. Welcome sessions are being expanded for accessibility across time zones and include a breakout session especially for new Instructors.

Visitors to our previous Community Discussions Etherpad will now be redirected to pads for Welcome Sessions and other Community Sessions for the current year. To sign up, trainees should visit the Welcome Sessions Etherpad

Note: Other community sessions will continue to be accepted towards checkout as part of our “Get Involved” step (more on this below).

Lesson Contribution -> “Get Involved” Step

A “lesson contribution” includes engagement on GitHub around maintenance and improvement of Carpentries materials or relevant suggestions contributed via email or Google form. We will continue to encourage new trainees to engage with lesson maintenance and improvement! However, for those with other interests, there are now many more ways to “get involved” with The Carpentries for this step.

Previously: Trainees were required to make a contribution to the content or conversation around our lessons and other resources on GitHub. This was intended to support Instructors in learning to share feedback that contributes to the maintenance of our materials. However, many trainees found this step to be a barrier to completing checkout, and we could not find clear evidence that that this step was achieving its intended goals.

Now: Lesson contributions will no longer be required, but will continue to be welcomed as part of the checkout process. The “Get Involved” step allows Trainees to choose from a variety of options, with the goal that they will take the next step in their involvement in The Carpentries community. Any participation will be accepted, but we suggest one of the following activities:

  • Serve as an Instructor or a Helper at a Carpentries workshop
  • Attend a regional call, skill-up session, or other community event
  • Submit a contribution to a Lesson, Glossario, or other Carpentries repository

Signup procedures will vary by activity. Once an activity is completed, it must be submitted for credit directly in AMY, our database (discussed below).

Tracking Checkout progress

Previously: Most types of Community Sessions were automatically recorded as meeting the Community Discussion requirement. After submitting a lesson contribution, trainees could receive credit by sharing a link in AMY (our database) or by emailing it to the Instructor Training team.

Now: Teaching Demonstrations and Welcome Sessions will continue to be automatically recorded for each trainee. After completing a “Get Involved” activity, trainees must login to AMY to report which participation option they wish to have credited. Read more about how to access and update your AMY profile Trainees can still email us if they have difficulty accessing the database. While this procedure is essentially almost identical, note that there is an important change to how Community Discussions will be handled. Since these are now one of many options that can be counted towards the “Get Involved” step, Community Discussion attendance will no longer be automatically recorded for checkout credit. It is necessary to login and report attendance at a Community Discussion if a trainee wishes to apply it to satisfy the “Get Involved” step. (Also, refer to FAQ below for requests to substitute a community session for a welcome session.)

Why make changes to the Instructor Checkout process?

At The Carpentries, we are “Always Learning,” seeking continuous improvement in our programs! We also champion Community Collaboration, especially in impactful decisions like this. In 2022, Kelly Barnes led a project team to evaluate the existing checkout process. This included extensive conversations and focus groups across our communities.

The project team reviewed feedback and shared a set of recommended changes for discussion with the Trainer community. After Trainer community review, these recommendations were submitted to Trainers Leadership for approval.

Preparations take time, and we were still not able to implement all of the recommendations with this update! However, all recommended changes to trainee requirements are now complete. In the future, we hope that additional changes to our evolving infrastructure will allow us to address additional recommendations, such as those regarding scheduling, signups, and trainee support.


I am currently in the process of completing checkout. What are my options?

You can choose to follow the old ways or the new ways!

Checkout Step If not yet completed If previously completed
Teaching Demonstration Can choose any recommended starting episode for your 5 min demo Counts as Teaching Demonstration
Community Discussion Sign up for a Welcome Session (or refer to FAQ below) Counts as Welcome Session, or next FAQ
Lesson contribution Review recommended Carpentries activities for your “Get Involved” step Counts as “Get Involved” step

I am in the process of completing checkout and have already finished my Community Discussion requirement. How will that be applied?

If you have already attended a Community Discussion (or other commumity event) as part of checkout, we have automatically transferred this activity to complete your Welcome Session step.

This means:

  • You do not need to attend a Welcome Session unless you want to.
  • If you do attend a Welcome Session, we will use the Welcome Session towards your Welcome Session requirement and the previously attended community Discussion to complete your Get Involved step.

I am in the process of completing checkout. I haven’t completed my Community Discussion but I had planned to attend a Community Session rather than Welcome Session. Do I have to attend a Welcome Session?

Community Session attendance will be accepted as a means to fulfill the Welcome Session step through 14 November, 2023. However, from this point forward, Community Discussion attendance will not automatically be counted towards this step because some trainees will choose to submit these for their “Get Involved” step instead. If you would like to have a Community Discussion that is not a Welcome Session counted for your Welcome Session step, please contact us at

I am experiencing a barrier to accessibility during the Instructor checkout process. How can I get help?

We want to help! Please use our accommodation request form and a member of our team will get back to you.

I was trained a long time ago and never completed checkout. These new rules seem more achievable to me. Can I re-start my checkout process?

These changes are being made, in part, because we recognize that the challenges of our checkout process have prevented skilled and enthusiastic Instructors from completing their certification. However, it is also important that trainees begin their Instructor role with Carpentries’ training and ethos fresh in their mind. Now through 14 November, 2023, we will offer the following accommodations for anyone previously trained:

  • If you attended an Instructor Training event after 1 January 2022, you may email us to request a new 90-day extension on your time to complete checkout.
  • If you attended an Instructor Training event before 1 January 2022, you may email us to request a Carpentries-sponsored code to re-take Instructor Training. If you have been highly active in Carpentries activities during this period (e.g. as a Helper or non-certified co-Instructor), you may share a list of those activities and ask for a 90-day extension instead.

I have another question! How can I get an answer?

The fastest way to get help is to join The Carpentries on Slack, then search for our new #checkout-support channel! (To search, click the word “Channels” -> “Manage” -> “Browse Channels” and use the search bar.) If someone has already asked the same question, the answer may be there already! If not, consider sharing your question there for others to find. Depending on the question and time of day, you may receive a reply immediately or within 1 business day.

If you prefer not to use Slack or have questions that are too personalized or detailed to share there, please email our Instructor Training team.

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