How to Teach Programming (and Other Things)
Atul Gawande’s 2007 article “The Checklist”
popularized the idea that using checklists can save lives (and make
many other things better too). The results of recent studies have
been more nuanced [Aveling2013],
[Urbach2014], but we still find them
useful, particularly when bringing new instructors onto a team.
The checklists below are used before, during, and after instructor
training events, and can easily be adapted for end-learner workshops
as well. We recommend that every group build and maintain its own
checklists customized for its instructors’ and learners’ needs.
Scheduling the Event
- Decide if it will be in person, online for one site, or online for
- Talk through expectations with the host(s) and make sure that
everyone agrees on who is covering travel costs.
- Determine who is allowed to take part: is the event open to all
comers, restricted to members of one organization, or something in
- Arrange trainers.
- Arrange space, including breakout rooms for video recording.
- Choose dates.
If it is in person, book travel.
- Get names and email addresses of attendees from host(s).
- Make sure they are added to the registration system.
- Set up a web page with details on the workshop, including date,
location, and a list of what participants need to bring.
- Check whether any attendees have special needs.
- If the workshop is online, test the video conferencing link.
- Make sure attendees will all have network access.
- Create an Etherpad or Google Doc for shared notes.
- Email attendees a welcome message that includes
a link to the workshop home page,
and a description of any pre-requisite tasks.
At the Start of the Event
- Remind everyone of the code of conduct.
- Collect attendance.
- Distribute sticky notes.
- Collect any relevant online account IDs.
At the End of the Event
- Update attendance records. Be sure to also record who
participated as an instructor or helper.
- Administer a post-workshop survey.
- Update the course notes and/or checklists.
Here are a few things instructors take with them when they travel to
- sticky notes
- cough drops
- comfortable shoes
- a small notepad
- a spare power adapter
- a spare shirt
- a variety of video adapters
- 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 the notes, or a tablet or other device
- an insulated cup for tea/coffee
- spare glasses/contacts
- a notebook and pen
- a portable WiFi hub
(in case the room’s network isn’t working)
- extra whiteboard markers
- a laser pointer
- a packet of wet wipes
(because spills happen)
- USB drives with installers for various operating systems
- running shoes, a bathing suit, a yoga mat, or whatever else you exercise in or with