Over the past year, I’ve run eight workshops on how to teach for various groups and companies in the Toronto area. Their content is drawn from the Carpentries instructor training, but cut down to one day; in outline, it covers:

  • The differences between novices and competent practitioners, what mental models are, and formative assessment
    • Participants create and critique multiple choice questions as an exercise
  • Expertise, concept maps, and how the limits to human cognition shape lesson design (i.e., 7±2)
    • Participants create concept maps
  • A recorded teaching exercise in groups of 3
    • I have participants put their feedback on the whiteboard as a group, then derive a rubric from it for use in the afternoon’s teaching exercise
  • Lunch
  • Motivation (self-efficacy, utility, and community) and demotivation (unpredictability, unfairness, and indifference)
    • We go through some scenarios in which people were demotivated and discuss what could have been done afterward to make it right
  • The second live teaching exercise (using the rubric from the morning)
  • Evidence-based methods to accelerate learning (draw from the Learning Scientists’ excellent material)
    • Think-pair-share on kinds of exercises that can be used in classes
  • The lesson design process and the mechanics of collaborative lesson development
    • We don’t go into details of Jekyll templates on GitHub, but talk instead about mechanics, credit, etc.
  • Wrap up

It makes for a very full day, and we often don’t cover everything, but it seems to work pretty well. My next workshop for staff at Toronto Public Library is in a week and a half, and I’m thinking of running one for all comers in Toronto in July if I can find space. If you’re interested in taking part, or in having me run it for your group or your company, please give me a shout - I learn at lot from each one, and always enjoy doing it.