Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Prepping for the Job Market Part 4- The Teaching Philosophy

I've written a ton of these. And I've answered this question in interviews for teaching jobs. And I'm still never sure of what I'm supposed to be doing. I was not pleased with the draft I submitted for the workshop, but I've never been happy with any teaching philosophy I've ever written.
So that was my first question yesterday during our workshop- what is this document supposed to DO?

I did feel as though I got the most out of this workshop, only because by the end I had a much clearer idea of what the document was supposed to do and how I could accomplish those goals. The other workshops have been helpful, but the notes were minor, and with this workshop I really feel as though I've learned the most.

So, here are the general tips:
  • As with the research statement, have a "look" that binds materials together without being cutesy
  • You will also have to have this document for tenure, so become familiar with form
  • 1-2 pages
  • Stress any assignment that improves student writing, this is a concern regardless of type of job
  • Don't list classes taught, that's for the CV and the letter (one professor suggested thinking of the letter about "them" and the teaching philosophy about "you")
  •  Ideally your philosophy should be an integration of you as scholar and instructor
  • Show awareness of pedagogical buzzwords, but USE them, don't just dump them in. Show through examples that you know what these look like in the classroom
  • Address both literature and writing- this may differ from application to application
  • Not the document to be humble. Won't come off as arrogance, will come off as competence.
  • Convey enthusiasm. If you can get the hiring committee member excited about an assignment/syllabus/etc. that's what you want.
It was this focus on the concrete teaching examples that helped the most, so I've divided those specific tips below:
  • Start with your assignments. Identify assignments you really like, or that are successful
  • Focus on what you do that's innovative
  • Have a clear "through line" 
  • Explain "This assignment does X..."
  • Then use this concrete example to articulate what's important to me as a teacher (engagement, connections, etc.)
  • Connect these examples to audience. We were also told to stress that we're a diverse university with a large hispanic, native, first generation population and this was a bonus. 
  • The concrete examples should exemplify the overarching theory that connects our teaching
The personal notes I received were also very helpful:
  • 1st paragraph: great connection between skills and content, build on this.
  • I have a lot of teaching experience, I need to highlight that more
  • Stress my ENGL 220: Fairy Tales and Folklore course because I chose the topic and designed from scratch
  • Rephrase Pedagogy to Integration or Scaffolding
  • Mention the Twitter/Facebook classwork I do because it will appear "new" to hiring committees and cool
We also address portfolios. Mine is an ongoing project, and is electronic- I link to it on my CV and other places. However, we were told that we needed to have a "hard copy" version to submit. This surprised me, but I was glad to know it. I'm a little unclear about formatting/table of contents, etc. but will build based on what we were told to include. Here's what I have (roughly).
The guidelines we were given for the hard copy portfolio was:
  • 8-10 pages
  • stress strengths
  • a syllabus or two
  • a good assignment
  • class handouts/lecture
  • mid semester evals
We were also told not to share evaluation numbers unless asked. Also, to not send anything not asked for.

Next week we're off because of Fall Break. The week after is a revision day, a chance to look at any documents we've done so far and revised.
The teaching philosophy is certainly the document that I need to revise the most. But I also think it's the one that will prove the most rewarding revision wise. I plan on revising my teaching philosophy on top of the current draft.

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