Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fall 2015 Week 2: Teaching Portfolios

This week Christy and Rachel led a group discussion on Teaching Portfolios: their elements, importance, and uses.  
First, we brainstormed as a group elements that might go into a Teaching Portfolio: a diversity statement, SOTP (Statement of Teaching Philosophy), ‘certificates’, teaching evaluations (summaries and quotes), sample syllabi (student-centered syllabus), letters of recommendation, CV, academic transcripts, video of teaching, sample tests or lesson plans, etc.
We spent some time thinking about the Statement of Teaching Philosophy (SOTP).  We talked about what an SOTP is: a 1-2 page document that generally includes your conception of teaching and learning, a description of how you teach, and justification for why you teach that way.  It can demonstrate that you have been reflective and purposeful about your teaching, and communicate your goals as an instructor.  We all agreed that the SOTP can be a challenging document to write, and that while examples abound on the web, it’s usually better to try to write your own first.
To that end, we considered some of the following questions:
  1. As an instructor, what is one skill/behavior you want your students to leave your class with?
  2. Why do you want to teach your subject?
  3. The purpose of education is to________.
  4. Students learn best by______________.
  5. The most effective methods for teaching are___________.
Source: Cornell University Career Services

Some evaluation criteria for SOTPs can be found here:

We then spent some time thinking and talking about the Diversity Statement, which is commonly required in job applications.  This is another essay which can take many forms.  It can address how you deal with a diverse range of students in the classroom, including different cultures, backgrounds, and types of learners. It can discuss how you incorporate diversity into your teaching materials and methods, beyond just saying “I will teach anyone who walks in the door”. It can also address how your personal background has equipped you to deal with diversity among your students.
We spent some time addressing questions that may help structure ideas about what should go into a diversity statement.
  1. How would you define diversity?   How would you define cultural competency?
  2. How you approach the diverse range of students in your classroom?
  3. How do you consider diversity in your teaching materials and methods?
  4. How has your personal background equipped you to accommodate diversity among your students and colleagues?
  5. How do you administratively support diversity among staff and faculty?
  6. How do you address and/or support diversity in your own research?  
Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Additional Tips
-Teaching Evals--be sure to stay organized with these, and to update your folder each year.  Save any e-mails or documentation that you may want to refer to later (we quickly forget!) -Evaluations of your teaching by professors in your department (guest lectures, etc.).   -Letters of Recommendation: ask your professors early (like a year before you go on the market) what they need in order to write you a strong letter of rec for your teaching.  -Teaching certificates!, or professionalization in teaching methods (i.e. workshops).   -Teaching Awards, Mentorship programs, etc.

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