The Teaching Dossier
The teaching dossier is a non-confidential dossier prepared and submitted by the candidate at the request of the search committee. But it is a constant in your professional life, required for tenure and promotion—and for self-improvement. Save everything about your teaching from now on. The dossier comprises several sorts of things:
- A statement of teaching philosophy (see below).
- Documented evidence of effective teaching, which might include the following:
- Samples of documents that exhibit your pedagogic practices. These might include:
- Summary of your teaching experience thus far: courses, responsibilities in detail
- Proof of professional development in pedagogy:
-list courses, seminars, such as THE 500, etc.
-discuss any mentoring done
-teaching awards—nominated or received
-research into pedagogy; fellowships or grants in pedagogy
-coordination of TAs or any administrative responsibilities for others in course
-Non-confidential letters from individuals who know you as a teacher (for example, professors who’ve employed you as a T.A.; the T.A. coordinator; someone, such as your adviser, you’ve invited to visit and observe you give a lecture). The assessment letter one is given at the end of a T.A.ship could be useful.
-A summary of evaluations, with some indication of how to assess that summary. (Be careful about furnishing raw numbers that can’t be readily interpreted.) This might be provided by you, but is usually more effective if provided by others.
-Copies of student evaluations (usually this is too much paper to include) or a page of quotations that provide examples of the kind of things students say about you. (While this kind of self-presentation may be taken with a grain of salt, it is not without its effect.)
-Course outlines (which might be for courses you haven’t yet taught)
-Quizzes, exams, essay assignments
-A marked essay, with your comments; or a few examples of the final comments
you have put on papers.
NB: SEE the CAUT Teaching Dossier online: http://caut.ca/en/publications/teaching_dossier_en.pdf
The Teaching Assistants Training Program (TATP) runs a very useful information session on the teaching dossier, provides a series of useful handouts (examples, etc.), and will even proofread your dossier (if you are registered with their program). See www.utoronto.ca/tatp
Writing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy
-no real model exists; but keep it individual and not generic
-tailor it to the KIND of institution to which you are applying
-check their mission statement
-don’t just think “research university” because that’s what you know best
-have it checked by someone who has read lots of these—it’s easy to be trite!
-the idea is to be self-reflective about HOW you go about teaching, not WHAT you have taught in the past (that is documented elsewhere in the dossier)
-what are your pragmatic goals and strategies as a teacher?
-what has worked for you (or hasn’t) in the classroom?
-what has worked for others (or hasn’t)? You’ve been a student for a long time and watched many teachers; analyse that experience!
-what do you believe about learning? Why? How might this play out in the classroom?
-how does student diversity/identity/background make a difference to how you teach?
-what do you still struggle with in terms of student learning? (i.e., how have you learned from your classroom experience?)
-be concrete, not abstract (= empty-sounding); never say you believe in “student-centred learning”—an example of a truism/cliché
-be brief and ground your remarks in your field (if necessary, do some research to find out what the reigning pedagogical ideas are in that field)
-be humble: teaching is trial and error and everyone knows that!
-be enthusiastic about teaching and about students at all levels; never sound
condescending; never sound as if your teaching is secondary to your researc