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October 12, 2006

creating a teaching philosophy

This entry contains links to sites that offer ideas about developing a teaching philosophy, which are often required as a component of the job application, whether incorporated into the cover letter, or attached as a separate document.

We’ve organized them as follows: first, some resources that provide context (What is its purpose? How will it be used?); second, some practical, step-by-step guides; and last, some sample statements.

Context:

The Chronicles of Higher Education has this news article about the value of teaching statements in evaluating job candidates: "How to write a teaching statement"
http://chronicle.com/jobs/2003/03/2003032701c.htm. This article links to another one on do’s and don’ts for teaching philosophies, at: http://chronicle.com/jobs/2003/03/2003032702c.htm .

This site, http://www.lll.hawaii.edu/sltcc/tipps/philosophy.html, is a collection of resources for writing teaching statements, including references (books and websites), a guide to brainstorming, and links to samples. (Some of these resources are called out separately in greater detail further down in this blog entry.)

Practical Guides:

This page at OSU defines the purposes of teaching statements and offers general advice for formatting: http://ftad.osu.edu/portfolio/philosophy/Philosophy.html. Scroll down for links to sample statements.

Bill Rozaitis, who is affiliated with UMN’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and teaches pedagogy in the GRAD 8101 and GRAD 8102 courses, provides practical, step-by-step advice for starting from scratch. Click on the various components of his program from his teaching portfolio site at http://www.tc.umn.edu/~rozai001/teach/background.html. (The main site also offers tips about collecting other materials for a teaching portfolio.)

Although this eight-page guide is from the American Chemical Society, its approach and methods are applicable to many other disciplines. The guide contains ideas for thinking about your teaching as well as some suggestions for organizing the statement in different ways, and how to think about teaching a step-by-step guide to drafting the contents of the statement. See "How to Write a Teaching Philosophy for Academic Employment" at
http://www.chemistry.org/portal/resources/ACS/ACSContent/careers/empres/careers_academicnews.pdf .

This OSU page offers rhetorical strategies (using metaphors, classroom examples, etc.) to develop the teaching philosophy. Scroll down for an excellent list of print resources: http://www.cofc.edu/~cetl/Essays/DevelopingaPhilosophyofTeaching.html.

Samples:

For inspiration and reflection: the following site contains musings on about good teaching written by about 80 professors from Berkeley, from all disciplines. They are listed alphabetically (scroll down to read Michael Watts’ statement.) http://teaching.berkeley.edu/goodteachers/index.html.

There are lots of samples from different disciplines at this U of Michigan site. They read like assignments from a PFF-type class, but are instructive because they are so different and because they address pedagogical issues in a discipline-specific context:
http://www.crlt.umich.edu/crlttext/tstpumtext.html

Here is a sample from Gardner Rogers at UIUC, who teaches rhetoric: http://www2.english.uiuc.edu/rogers/Teaching_Statement.htm

This statement is a longish document that incorporates a section on teaching philosophy (scroll down to read it). Although it’s for computer science, I find his specific examples about methods he uses in the classroom are pretty compelling.
http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~ellard/pubs/teaching.pdf#search=%22%22teaching%20statement.

Finally, a personal favorite, even though it's for teaching foreign language: http://www.humnet.ucla.edu/humnet/italian/grads/cavatort/tphilosophy.html.

October 1, 2006

writing cover letters

This entry lists some resources for writing cover letters for academic jobs. They are not geography-specific.

The Online Writing Lab at Perdue University has several useful pages, including this explanation of the parts of an academic cover letter, plus an annotated sample letter: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/print/pw/PDFs/p_covseek.pdf. Another sample letter (for sociology) can be found here at the Chronicles of Higher Education website: http://chronicle.com/jobs/2000/04/20000421advertisedposition.htm . This sample is from the book The Academic Job Search Handbook, which you may find useful.

Claremont Graduate University has an excellent page of tips on how to tailor your letter to the type of institution: http://www.cgu.edu/pages/842.asp.

This page at Berkeley is a little too "how to demonstrate that someone as great as you would want to teach at a crummy school like East Nowhere State College" but is still worth a read, especially about length of letters (keep 'em concise!) and organizing the components of the letter: http://career.berkeley.edu/PhDs/PhDcover.stm. This writer disagrees with Berkeley's advice not to spend the time tailoring letters to each specific institution.

More advice about how to tailor letters to an institution is at http://chronicle.com/jobs/2000/04/2000042101c.htm and at http://chronicle.com/jobs/2000/03/2000030302c.htm. An index of Chronicle articles about presenting yourself on paper is at http://chronicle.com/jobs/topical/present_paper.htm .

According to another Chronicle article, if you are applying to a community college, your cover letter is the most important part of your portfolio. Read the article at http://chronicle.com/jobs/2002/05/2002051601c.htm.

For laughs, check out this cover-letter-generator called the “Amazing Cover Letter Creator:?
http://www.downloadfreetrial.com/cover-letters/academic-cover-letter.html.

Last, the second course in the Preparing Future Faculty series (GRAD 8102) requires (among other things) preparation and peer review of a cover letter responding to a specific job ad. Having someone from a different discipline read your letter can be frustrating (they push you to change it to match THEIR discipline) but also useful in clarifying your thoughts and words.

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