Helping Women Achieve in Academic Science

Your Packet: Teaching

At most schools, research is most important and teaching is a close second. So, you need to have a teaching statement in your packet. This should be familiar, since many schools and departments require a teaching statement in your application packet. When writing your application, it was probably not clear what that teaching statement was supposed to say, especially since most of us haven’t taught before going to their tenure track job. Well, it probably isn’t clear here either. Again, this is where some one else’s packet and teaching statement can help immensely.

Another thing is that your CV now has a bunch of information about your teaching including a list of courses that you taught, a list of students you have mentored, and students’ committees. So, what needs to go here? This post includes some suggestions of topics you can include. I am sure there are other good things, so please comment or guest post. (Don’t forget to hit the follow button to be notified every time there is a new WomanOf Science post!)

Your point of view: People say you should discuss your vision for teaching. When applying, this was a daunting task. Never having taught meant that I had no idea how to teach poorly, let alone how I thought it should be done well. After a few years of teaching, and hopefully getting better at it, you might actually have a real vision of the best way to teach. Maybe you don’t have a “vision,” but you can say what things are important to you about teaching a class. Again, give them your take on things to orient them about your opinions on teaching.

Course development: This may or may not apply, but if you did develop a new course, you should describe what you did in your packet. This is similar to what you do in your research statement. Describe what you did. Use figures, including pictures of your class, if you have them. If you were funded to develop the new course, describe the grant. Play up the fact that you took a risk and did something innovative before tenure. Again, self-promote and sell it here.

Student mentoring: Part of your teaching includes the training of students in the laboratory. If you have specific means to mentor your students, describe them. I think it is easier to have a vision about how to mentor than how to teach because it is so closely aligned with research, which is the one thing you were trained to do. You probably had some idea of how you would train your graduate students and some ideal of what your graduate students would come out being able to do. Do you teach them specific skills? Then there are a whole bunch of other skills that we train our students in addition to the science, and most people have a good idea how they would ideally do that, too. For instance: Do you train them in writing? How? Do you educate them in presentation skills? In what way? Do you encourage them and send them to conferences to present their work? How is training a postdoc different from training a graduate student in your lab? How do you train undergraduates? Check with your institution if mentoring should go under teaching or research, but it usually is part of teaching.

Classroom teaching: Since your CV already has a list of courses, this section should include more information about how you went about teaching your assigned courses. You should emphasize innovative changes, those 20% changes that we talked about before, that made your class better. If your evaluations improved over time due to these changes, point it out.

More so than the research statement, the teaching statement has a lot of flexibility. You can quote student evaluations and even include scans of thank you letters from students – should you have them! Again, you are selling yourself so that you are sailing over the bar instead of just barely making it. I am sure there are a lot of other great suggestions, so hopefully some others will chime in!

Comments on: "Your Packet: Teaching" (1)

  1. […] packet that this is standard in your field (see these posts about your tenure packet: research, teaching, service) and make sure your allies are in place (tenure tips). Yet, two papers of your own […]

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