Keeping Track of Instructor Training

I became an instructor trainer in the Carpentries in Spring of 2017 and since then I’ve co-taught 5 train-the-trainer events. These trainings teach both the research-based teaching practices the Carpentries use and also how the Carpentries operate. Once learners finish this class and a few check-out steps (discuss & contribute to a lesson, teach a demo) they become a certified (badged) instructor in the carpentries. I finished teaching a workshop with Jeff Oliver, University of Arizona, this past week, and wanted to sit down and list out the instructor training events I taught at so I can refer back to them. I especially want to remember the people I’ve met along the way through the Carpentries community. I’ll a few notes on the workshops and add the links to the materials for easier reference.


  1. April, 24 & 26 2017 Online - Co-instructor: Christina Koch (@christinalk) website:;
    • This training had groups from Virginia Tech and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Luckily, I was paired with Christina Koch on my first instructor training - she def. helped me make it through and deal with the artificial nature of teaching online.
  2. May 4-5, 2017 Portland, OR - Co-instructor Belinda Weaver (@weaverbel) website:
    • This event was organized by John Chodacki and happened directly after CSV;Conf. It was focused on training librarians to become certified and teach Library Carpentry Workshops. I was fortunate to teach with Belinda Weaver (@weaverbel) with help from Juliane Schneider (@pitviper6) and John Chodacki (@chodacki). So far, 18 learners from this cohort certified and many have taught Library Carpentry. I personally participated or taught in Carpentries workshops with 8 instructors since the Portland event.
  3. Oct. 9-10, 2017 North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa - Juan Steyn (@zjsteyn), Anelda van der Walt (@anelda),
    • This opportunity to teach and present in South Africa came about by the work of the African Task Force, the highly impactful group that is organizing Carpentries workshops and instructors in the African continent. During this trip, we taught two Library Carpentry workshops and the above instructor training event. I even had the opportunity of giving a key note at the annual Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) Conference. More than anything, I met some great people, including Erika Mias (@erikamias), Kayleigh Lino (@curatorkay), Juan Steyn (@zjsteyn) and Anelda van der Walt (@anelda). The instructor training workshop itself was composed of participants from South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Botswana.
  4. July 18-19, 2018 - online - Jeff Coliver (@jcoliver) -
    • This training had groups from Columbia, Army Corps of Engineer - Engineer R&D Center, and University of Miami. Teaching with Jeff is wonderful because he’s so even-keeled and unflappable. He definitely grounded the workshop in a solid knowledge of pedagogy and the Carpentries.
  5. Oct. 10-11, 2018 online - Jeff Coliver (@jcoliver) -
    • This was the first fully distributed online training for me – every learner in a separate location via Zoom. We definitely got practice with Zoom’s breakout feature and by the second day it was routine. Learners did say they missed some of the personal interaction you’d get in a grouped online model, but this format is necessary for individuals who might not be near others in a training.


  1. Oct. 24-25, 2018 - Providence, RI - SherAaron Hurt (@sheraaron)
  2. Nov. 27-28, 2018 - online - Ariel Rokem (@arokem)

Library Carpentry sprint, 2 Oct, 2017 - LiASA

The Library Carpentry sprint is part of the Library and Information Association of South Africa 2017 Conference, which will take place on 2 October, 2017 in Johannesburg. For those new to the field, a sprint is like a hackathon - it is a way to get people working together to create, update or extend open projects like Library Carpentry. We’ll use this etherpad to organize the sprint.

Carpentries South Africa Trip

I’m taking off for South Africa later this eve and will be teaching and participating in several events while there. I’m super excited about joining my hosts, @anelda and @zjsteyn, for 2 weeks in Joburg.

Schedule of What is Happening


Chapter 2: Why It's Better Than It Seems

Why It’s Scary

“It’s hard to be shown up by a nineteen year old.”

In Teaching What You Don’t Know, Terese Huston interviews 28 faculty and administrators about their experiences teaching outside their expertise. There are clear reasons on why you would not want to do this. Generally, the author found that teaching what you don’t know can be very stressful. An instructor doesn’t want to be outsmarted by students or asked questions she or he can answer. Also, when teaching outside of your expertise, you typically spend more time preparing for the courses.

Why Teach Outside Your Expertise

Considering the downsides – lack of sleep, extra preparation, anxiousness, etc., – why would you do this to yourself? Why would you teach what you do not know? Huston found that there are a number of reasons why her interview cohort found it beneficial to teach outside of their expertise:

  1. An opportunity to learn something new and most academics love to explore and learn something new. A corollary benefit of this is that teaching is a real solid way to focus the mind to be able to learn something.
  2. An opportunity to connect with faculty outside of your department. If you are teaching subject where someone else on campus in another department has content expertise, asking for that person’s help with the class is a great way to make new acquaintances.
  3. Broadens your CV and you become more attractive to potential employers because you become more versatile.
  4. Can lead you to developing a new area of research.

Chapter 1: Teaching What You Don't Know

Teaching What You Don't Know

Huston, Therese. (2009) Teaching what you don’t know /Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press.

In the first chapter, the author lays out some of the underpinnings for why teaching what you don’t know, though often not talked about, is prevalent in academia. She interviewed 28 faculty and administrators about teaching outside of their expertise and found that most teach what they don’t know, roughly, because of factors, such as where they teach, what they teach and the way higher education works.

Where they teach

Faculty and instructors that teach at smaller institutions are more likely to pick up course in topics they didn’t study in graduate school. The simple numbers dictate that you will have to cover more areas because of fewer instructors in smaller schools.

What they teach

Faculty that teach as part of a general education program or who are responsible for cross-disciplinary seminars are often teaching beyond their expertise. Additionally, many departments offer courses that are so broad that instructors can’t be experts in all of the represented topics. The author gave an example of a Law professor who teaches property law but noted that property law can cover material that is grounded in a thousand years of jurisprudence history. Subsequently, a professor who specializes in a sub-sub-sub part of that history will ultimately routinely be asked to teach outside of their area to contribute to the curricular offering of their school.


Stata estout: UCSD Epidemiology Group

On July 28, 2016, I presented to a UCSD epidemiology group at the Medical Teaching Facility on using estout to autogenerate regression tables for publication. estout is a Stata package that makes it easy to produce publication quality regression tables in Stata. It also has provides various output formats including CSV, RTF, HTML or LaTeX.


Using AWK to Filter Rows

After attending a bash class I taught for Software Carpentry, a student contacted me having troubles working with a large data file in R. She wanted to filter out rows based on some condition in two columns. An easy task in R, but because of the size of the file and R objects being memory bound, reading the whole file in was too much for my student’s computer to handle. She sent me the below sample file and how she wanted to filter it. I chose AWK because it is designed for this type of task. It parses data line-by-line and doesn’t need to read the whole file into memory to process it. Further, if we wanted to speed up our AWK even more, we can investigate AWK ports, such as MAWK, that are built for speed.


UCSF Sofware Carpentry

UCSF Sofware Carpentry 8/4-8/5 2016

I’m teaching bash shell and Git at a two day workshop at UCSF from 8/4-5. Ted Hart @emhart is teaching R. Lots of fun so far!