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A Timeline for Presenting Your Teaching Experience

It's never too early to start preparing for your career. However, graduate students at different stages in the process may need to focus on different things. For example, if you are:

Beginning to teach

Document everything! Start with good organization. As you plan for your classes, keep print and computer files of all of your materials. Here is a list of what you will want to keep:

Teaching materials

  • Syllabi
  • Quizzes and tests
  • Lesson plans and lecture notes, including Power Point presentations
  • Assignments and grading guides
  • Copies of class web-pages (such as BlackBoard sites). These should also be backed up in your computer files
  • Articles handed out to students or put on reserve
  • Student materials
  • Attendance and grading lists
  • E-mails from students
  • Selected sample copies of student papers with your comments

Please note that you must have permission from student to distribute and you should delete all identifying information

Teaching Evaluations

  • Informal (mid-semester) and formal student evaluations (at Duquesne these are the Student Evaluation Surveys)
  • Letters from advisors and teaching supervisors about your teaching, such as those written after a classroom observation
  • Evidence that you regularly engage in thinking about teaching
  • Resources gathered in planning your class, such as
  • Other teachers' syllabi
  • Preparatory readings
  • Useful web-site
  • A record of all teaching-related workshops and training you may have attended (e.g., BlackBoard training, CTE workshops and book studies, departmental workshops on teaching)
  • Copies of certificates and letters you may have received for giving a presentation or serving on a panel about teaching.

In the middle of your graduate training

If you have already taught some classes but are not ready to go on the market, you can take some steps now that will make this intensive process much easier in the future.

Start a CV

Your CV will go through many changes throughout your career, but you should begin the basic framework early. Develop the habit of entering new information as it comes up (e.g., conference presentations, workshops, publications). Treat the CV as a dynamic, ongoing log of your professional development.

Take a leadership role among beginning TAs

Some departments have formal programs whereby advanced TAs mentor less experienced TAs. Even where no formal structure exists, you can offer your seasoned advice and experience, for example by:

  • Serving as an "advanced TA" at departmental or CTE workshops
  • Keeping a file cabinet in the TA office on resources about teaching
  • Spending time and getting to know beginning TAs. This may not seem like an important activity for your professional development, but in fact research shows that new faculty who maintain ongoing discussions with colleagues are happier and more productive.
  • Keep a teaching journal or notes about your development as a teacher. For example, if a class went particularly well or an activity flopped, keep notes about what happened. These could be helpful in the future when writing your Statement of Teaching Philosophy or when asked to discuss and reflect on your teaching (e.g., in a job interview). Or, if you're not the journaling type, consider writing brief comments on post-it notes and attach to teaching materials. Start noticing areas of weakness, such as things that come up over and over again on student evaluations and take steps to address them (see below).
  • Seek out opportunities to learn more about teaching
  • Get in the habit of talking to others about your teaching, such as your advisor, fellow TAs, or faculty. If you are concerned about something (e.g., classroom rapport, leading discussions, lecturing) have a colleague or a CTE staff member observe a class and provide feedback. Visit our evaluation of teaching resources to learn more about this, or download this template to guide a classroom observation.
  • Seek out people who can serve as teaching mentors and further your interest and experience. Research shows that junior faculty who sought advice from others and kept ongoing conversations about their teaching were happier and more successful than than the typical new faculty members.
  • Check out Boice, R. (1991). Quick starters: New faculty who succeed. In Theall, M. & Franklin, J. (Eds.), New directions for teaching and learning: No. 48. Effective practices for improving teaching (pp. 111-121). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Contact CTE for a copy of this article.

Going "on the market"

Each field has a different protocol about this important stage in an academic career, but almost any academic job will require a CV. If the position you are applying for involves teaching, you will need to provide evidence of your teaching effectiveness, whether through a teaching portfolio or a statement of teaching philosophy.

The Chronicle of Higher Education's career pages are free and archived. There are many articles on how to navigate the academic job market.