As we all know by now, professionalizing your scholarship is essential
to getting an academic job; and professionalizing your teaching
is also crucial in depicting the kind of teacher you are, the kind
of teacher you want to be, and the kind of teacher a university
or college wants to hire. Below are several suggestions for ways
to not only document your teaching, but to also learn how to talk
about your teaching to others, a fundamental skill when interviewing
for jobs, in particular.
Be Able to Talk About Your Teaching like a Professional
What does this mean exactly? Here are some suggestions:
* Be able to offer a coherent rationale for everything you do in
* Have a two minute statement about what makes your teaching yours,
and not someone else's.
* Have a two minute statement on the glories, pieties, and wonders
* Have concrete examples of pedagogical things (exercises, lesson
plans, etc.) you do that you've developed, or better yet that other
people do that you've developed.
* Know major current pedagogical issues in your field. Read The
Chronicle of HigherEducation, among other journals, to find out
what people are worried about when it comes to teaching. For example,
in 2002, issues of assessment are really big as higher education
at state schools, in particular, comes under scrutiny and must
produce certain learning outcomes. When you interview for a job,
you'll want to be able to join a conversation about the teaching
issues most central to them.
Seek Out Information About the Effects of Your Teaching on Students
One of the best ways to do this is to use tools that find out
what's happening to your students, in particular (as opposed
to just assessing
your performance). The Teaching Analysis Poll or TAP is a great
example of an assessment tool that probes student learning. Generally,
just get multiple kinds of assessment of your teaching whenever
possible. Your ability to have an "open classroom," one
where you welcome observation and feedback, will improve your
teaching currently while simultaneously preparing you for the
of your professional life which might include giving a teaching
demonstration or delivering a paper. Having a TAP, for instance,
is just one more tool in your knapsack that you can pull out
and use at the appropriate time.
Here are a few others:
* Classroom Videotape (available from the UVA Teaching Resource
* Teaching Analysis Poll (available from the UVA Teaching Resource
* Class Visitations from colleagues
* Class Visitations from professors who can write you a "teaching" recommendation
Develop a Teaching Portfolio
(Handouts on how to do this and a workshop that walks you step-by-step
through the process are available from the UVA Teaching Resource
Enough cannot be said about how much developing a portfolio facilitates
your thinking and talking about your teaching, even if you never
show it to anyone (which is unlikely). It also prepares you for
the tenure process where at some schools teaching performance
is more crucial than others.
Remember, be fanatical about saving things. Also, when you use
something in class, revise it the next day in your teaching notes
so that you remember what you did. Just as you imagine your scholarly
work contributing to a larger community, imagine that your pedagogical
philosophy and praxis do the same.
Let Themed Writing Classes Work for You
Of course your first goal when selecting a theme, as with all
things in your teaching, is seeking out what's good for your
and not what's good for you. But you can serve your interests
while serving theirs. Clearly, then, the themed component of
UVA is not an excuse to just teach your dissertation which would
be a great disservice to your undergraduates (both because of
course content and your ability to translate that material).
are a chance to experiment with areas of your "job profile" you'd
like to enhance. For example, say you begin to look at the job
list in 19th century American literature, and you notice that
it's really important to have done some work with gender studies.
far, you don't have a specialty in that area, so teach an ENWR
on gender and culture in the United States, or some variation.
Not only is it a provocative and successful theme (others have
taught variations so ask them), but on your CV, you can list
this experience, and- this is important- you can emphasize the
of the writing class. Choosing new themes after teaching them
a few times gives you an opportunity to expand your repertoire:
miss that chance! If you'd like more help on thinking about your
theme in strategic ways, contact someone in the writing program.