Instructor introduction

This page gives general instructor and expert helper introduction material. These people are responsible for more than one breakout room, and have to have an overview of more of the course. In short, if you want to take the next step in CodeRefinery, this is the place to start.

How do you get started?

That’s what this page is about (well, and the instructor training). We believe that you best learn by working with others in practice, and provide plenty of opportunities to do that.

Prerequisites / software installation:

  • We assume a Zoom desktop client of newer than ~15.october.2020, in order to join breakout rooms by yourself.

Starting materials

Reading here: the other pages in the section, see sidebar.

Also read the exercise leader information

Reading elsewhere:

From exercise leader/helper to more

Here is one possible pathway from learner to (whatever else). This is an idea for a pathway but by no means a requirement - you can join at whatever step you like, and steps don’t have to happen in order. Maybe you are interested in some or the other. There are also roles completely outside of this pathway.

  • After being a learner, you come back as an exercise leader/helper.

  • When you have a solid understanding of all materials, you may join as an expert helper.

  • You begin co-teaching episodes with someone else

    • We find that co-teaching is a good way to start. In this, there are two people, one person assumes the big-picture discussion, and the other the typing and explaining what they are doing. By making the lesson a discussion instead of a lecture, it’s more dynamic.

  • Eventually, you get confident enough to teach yourself (though really we should always be co-teaching…)

  • Somewhere in there (before or after instructor, depending on your interests), you may want to try to be a HackMD helper or Zoom host. These are more about coordinating all the other people involved in the workshop.

Let’s emphasize again: this is one pathway, but you should do what you want.

As an instructor

Most of our workshops are very collaborative arrangements: you are rarely alone. This is one way of looking at it:

  • Look at and revise the workshops before they teach, making small, incremental improvements. But, you don’t have to (and in some sense, it’s good if they stabilize some more).

  • Especially go over the examples when preparing.

  • Have a chat with someone else (probably another instructor or expert helper) before teaching. We encourage this for everyone, even experienced instructors, to better transfer knowledge among each other and stay up to date with the latest developments.

  • Teach independently or co-teach. Ideally, co-teach the first time(s). Really, we’d like to get to the point where we always co-teach. Co-teaching doesn’t mean different people take different lessons, but two people teach all parts of the same lesson by turning it into a discussion between the two instructors. TODO: produce information on this.

Top issues new instructors face

  • Breaks are not negotiable, minimum 10 minutes.

  • Breakout sessions too short. Make them as long as possible, don’t expect to come back for new intro, then go back.

  • People will accomplish less than you expect. Expect learners to be 5 times slower than you, at best!

  • All the other tools and stuff will go wrong. Try to not bring in a dependency when you don’t need it.

  • Trying to accomplish too much: it’s OK to cut out and adapt to the audience. Have a reserve session at the end you prepare, but are ready to skip.

  • Explaining how, but not why.

  • Running out of time to making your environment match the learner’s.

  • Running out of time to set up good screen sharing practices (terminal history, portion of screen, remote history) in advance.

  • Assuming learners remember what they have already learned, or know the prerequisites. Or have stuff installed and configured.

  • Not managing expectations: learners think that you will accomplish everything, and feel sad when you don’t.