Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Instructor Checklist

Instructors lecture and lead practical exercises. You should also help learners during practical sessions, but remember to rest your voice as well. You don't need to know the curriculum for all the topics in your workshop, but it certainly helps (particularly if someone can't make it at the last minute).


  • If you haven't already done so, (or haven't done so recently), read the instructors' guide for the session that you will teach. You will find the guide with the lesson that you will teach.
  • Arrange travel to the workshop site, accommodation, and transportation from your lodging to the workshop site.
  • Find out (from the host) how to be reimbursed for travel expenses.
  • Work with the lead instructor to figure out who's teaching what and when.
  • Choose or prepare your lessons, data sets, cheat sheets, exercises, and version control repositories.
  • Post your exercises, data sets, and cheat sheets on the workshop's web site. (The lead instructor will create a GitHub repository to host the workshop's web pages.)
  • Work through your own setup instructions to make sure they're complete, and to ensure that you have the same setup as your learners.
  • Do a dry-run of your entire lesson; this allows you to try out your examples and exercises to make sure they (still) work, and to make sure you'll have enough time to present all your material (or enough material to fill your time).
  • Familiarize yourself with the material your fellow instructors will be presenting, in case one of them pulls out or loses their voice.
  • Be aware of common configuration problems.
  • Get emergency contact information for the workshop host and other instructors in case of last-minute changes.

During the Workshop

  • Remind attendees about our Code of Conduct.
  • One instructor should stay on top of the catering: replenish snacks, call for more coffee, etc.

After the Workshop

  • Take part in an instructor discussion session.
  • Send any other feedback you have to Software Carpentry admin.
  • Upload improvements to common lesson material to GitHub and send a pull request to the master repository.
  • Report new configuration problems into the wiki.

What To Take When You Travel

Here are a few things our instructors take with them when they travel to teach:

  • sticky notes
  • cough drops
  • a spare shirt (and deodorant)
  • a variety of video adapters
  • a spare power adapter
  • laptop stickers
  • a toothbrush (or some mouthwash)
  • a granola bar or some other emergency snack
  • Eno or some other antacid (because road food)
  • business cards
  • a printed copy of notes for reference during teaching (or a tablet or other "extra" device)
  • an insulated cup for tea/coffee
  • spare glasses/contacts
  • a notebook and pen
  • some sort of WiFi hub (in case networking in the room isn't working)
  • extra whiteboard markers
  • a laser pointer
  • a packet of wet wipes (because spills happen)
  • a few USB drives with installers for various platforms (just in case)
  • running shoes, a bathing suit, a yoga mat, or whatever else you exercise in or with
  • good shoes (because you'll be standing most of the day)
  • a small notepad for writing down snippets of code for participants

Dialogue & Discussion

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