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Developing Professional Relationships
Teaching can feel like a very solitary activity, especially when you are doing it for the first time. One way to help break the pattern of isolation is to develop positive, supportive, professional relationships with other teachers. Others who are new to the classroom can help you feel less alone; those with more experience can be a wonderful resource for teaching ideas (and a reminder that people do make it through the first year!). Discussing pedagogy with your colleagues in a positive way is a habit that can help you maintain a good attitude and ultimately improve your teaching.
You should also consider keeping a drawer or folder of teaching ideas, activities and lesson plans that worked well in your classes and that you can share with others. This can often be a fruitful point of interaction and exchange between you and your colleagues, many of whom are looking for new ideas to use in their classrooms and have their own ideas to share as well. (Return to top)
The Teaching Portfolio
A variety of professionals—including artists, architects, writers, illustrators—use the portfolio approach to summarize their work experience. A teaching portfolio is a collection of materials related to course instruction, organized in a coherent form. A well-prepared portfolio should enable a reviewer to get a good understanding of the applicant’s relevant experiences, methods of teaching, efforts to improve and some measures of success. While there are no limits to the amount of material that might be included, a thick portfolio -- like all enormous documents -- rarely finds its way into the hands of willing readers. The following list, adapted from Braskamp and Ory (1994), provides a checklist for developing your teaching portfolio:
This list can be expanded as your experience grows and abridged as needs require. Be sure to edit your portfolio for each specific position applied for, as different institutions have varying expectations for their applicants. The teaching portfolio is clearly designed for academic settings, but it may have some uses outside of educational institutions as well. A brief teaching portfolio could, for example, provide documentation of your ability to organize a major project (a course) and interact with clients (your students) and supervisors (faculty mentors); your evaluations should speak to your ability to communicate ideas clearly. (Return to top)
Other Opportunities for Professional Development
ITLAL regularly sponsors Workshops on professional development for Graduate Teaching Assistants who are preparing for faculty careers. (Return to top)
The list of elements to include that is provided above is an abbreviated one. More information is available from a variety of sources, including:
Braskamp, L.A. and Ory, J.C. (1994). Assessing Faculty Work: Enhancing Individual and Institutional Performance. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Selden, P. (1991). The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc. (Return to top)
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