Whether the job is at a at small liberal arts college, a large state university, or a research institution, teaching is a central factor in hiring decisions. Many academic job applications will require a statement of teaching philosophy, a teaching portfolio, or both.
Although there are many examples of uninspiring teaching portfolios on the internet, teaching documents can be organized into a portfolio that demonstrates both serious thought and rigorous standards of scholarship. In The Teaching Portfolio, Peter Seldin writes that a portfolio takes about 12-15 hours to create – a small time commitment considering its benefits, which include growth as a teacher and increasing your chances of success on the job market.
The Bok Center and the Office of Career Services advise TFs and other instructors to begin developing a teaching portfolio early in their teaching careers. Starting early and continuing to collect material during your ongoing development as a teacher is the best way to craft a portfolio that both captures your educational philosophy and documents your teaching efforts.
Before making an appointment to review your portfolio with the Bok Center, take these initial steps (and see also Components of a Portfolio in the menu at left):
- Save all syllabi, handouts, and assignments from courses in which you teach. Make sure to make a note of exercises, assignments, and materials you developed yourself.
- Think about and begin working on a statement of your teaching philosophy. Put as much care and attention into your teaching statement as you would into a statement of research for a fellowship application. Your observations and comments should be rooted in real experiences in the classroom.
- Request letters from faculty who have employed you to teach, particularly those who have observed your teaching and/or read over your comments on student work. Ask for these letters while the professors' memories are fresh.
- After you've submitted course grades and there is no appearance of impropriety or favoritism,consider asking a student or two for a letter of recommendation.
- Have a section (or, if you give a guest lecture, the lecture) videotaped as part of a consultation at the Bok Center. After your consultation, ask for a copy of the DVD. Videotaped segments of teaching are sometimes requested in lieu of, or in addition to, an onsite job talk. Watching yourself teach on tape in consultation with a Bok Center staff member is also be a springboard to articulating your teaching philosophy.
- Keep all student evaluations of your teaching. Mid-semester feedback, combined with final Q evaluations, make a good package.
Try to envision the process of creating a teaching portfolio as a means of productively preparing for the job market and a successful academic career. The portfolio, as Peter Seldin writes, "is to teaching what lists of publications, grants, and honors are to research and scholarship."
References and Resources
- Bain, Ken. What the Best College Teachers Do, Chapter 3. Harvard University Press (2004). [Available in the Bok Center Library in Science Center 318 or at various campus libraries.]
- Davis, Barbara Gross. Tools for Teaching. Jossey-Bass (1993).
- Hutchings, Pat "Teaching Portfolios as a Tool for TA Development", Chapter 13 in The Professional Development of Graduate Teaching Assistants, Marincovich et. al., eds. Anker (1998), pp. 235-248.[Available in the Bok Center Library or Gutman Library.]
- McKeachie, Wilbert J., "The Teaching Portfolio", inMcKeachie's Teaching Tips, 10th Edition, Houghton Mifflin Co. (1999). pp. 283-284. [Available in the Bok Center Library or Gutman Library.]
- Seldin, Peter. The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisons, 3rd Edition. Anker (2004). [Available in the Bok Center Library or at Gutman Library.]