So, not every grad students teaches, so obviously a teaching dossier is better suited for those who are in the classroom, like a sessional instructors or as TAs. But if you are teaching, and teaching is a transferrable skill. So having a teaching dossier allows you to be able to collect artifacts and evidence that can help you think about your teaching in different ways and how that transfers to other contexts.
Well, certainly a statement of teaching philosophy. That in a sense is a thesis for the dossier. It tells you and others what you believe about teaching, why you teach, what you believe about learning. And then other compenents would include things like practice – what do you do in the classroom that aligns with that philosophy? Do you practice what you preach, essentially?
It could be a one-pager or a two-pager about what you do in the classroom, now some TAs are limited by the fact that the instructional design of the course is set by somebody else if they’re supporting a faculty member. But if you’re responsible for a course on your own, and you’ve designed the course, you can talk about what you do in the class that allows you to enact your philosophy. If you look at a dossier you might sort of think about the ‘this is what I believe about teaching’ and then ‘this is what I do in the classroom’. And if there is a sort of misalignment between those two, it’s an opportunity to think about ‘can I tweak things’, ‘can I change things’. So although the dossier is very helpful for career purposes, it’s also a reflective document. And it provides evidence that you’re a reflective practioner, that you’re thinking about what you’re doing – that’s always good.
So you’ve got your thesis, your contributions to curriculum, things that you’ve developed to support the course. And then you want a section on the results of the course. That would include student evaluations, course evaluations, evaluations from peers, evaluations from faculty, summative and formative assessment, so that if there isn’t course evaluations.
Sometimes course evaluations aren’t shared with TAs. Obviously it’s helpful TAs should be proactive and looking for that kind of feedback on their teaching. If you’re going for some sort of instructional position, or some sort of position that’s related to teaching – there’s a lot of careers that are related to teaching. Having a teaching dossier is really hard to create after the fact if you’re searching for the artifacts or the evidence. I remember one story when I was working with a graduate student in a workshop on teaching dossiers, and he said ‘this seems like a lot of work to start collecting those artifacts.’ And about six months later he called me and said he had an appointment for a position at Dalhousie University, and they wanted a teaching dossier for the interview, which was on Monday, and this was Friday. So his weekend was busy pulling together retroactively all those artifacts, so that’s a challenge. So people should really think about collecting as they go, and reflecting as they go.