Monday, April 28, 2008

Writing Tips to Help You Get Started on a Teaching Portfolio

Feeling Stuck?

Here are a few writing tips compiled by CIDR to help you find your ideas and put them into words. This is NOT a series of steps to be followed in sequence, but a set of suggestions -- some of which may be more helpful to you than others.

For now, we have tips for drafting a teaching statement and for annotating materials that you include in the appendix. Skip around, try a few things, and let us know what helps. If you come up with other helpful tips, let us know and we'll add them to the list.

Drafting a Teaching Statement

Back to the Beginning. Think about the questions you ask when you're planning to teach:
  • What do I want students to learn?
  • What can I do to facilitate their learning?
  • What obstacles are there to student learning?
  • What can I do to help students overcome these obstacles?
If you feel like your philosphy statement is too abstract or impersonal, try answering the question, "What does this look like when I do it in class?"

Think about the times you have helped people learn in other situations, even when you weren't officially in the role of "teacher"; for example,
  • advising
  • tutoring
  • working with patients or clients
  • mentoring a new associate
  • working as a camp counselor
How is teaching and learning in those situations similar to what you do in class? How is it different?

Switch roles. If you originally wrote your philosophy statement from a teacher's perspective, try writing it from a learner's point of view. What does a learner typically experience in a class that you teach?

Annotating Materials for the Appendix

Supporting Materials. Select examples that demonstrate or reinforce the points you want to make in statements about your teaching philosophy, methods, or strategies.

Annotations are essential to hold everything together. They don't need to be elaborate or extensive, but they need to be clear enough for someone who's looking at your portfolio for the first time to understand what's important about it.

How to annotate? Write about a teaching activity, using these guiding questions:
  • What did I want students to learn?
  • How did it go (and how do I know how it went)?
  • What would I do differently next time?
Everything is a rough draft. Don't worry too much about making everything perfect the first time through. For now, simply go through the examples you want to include in the appendix and annotate on post-it notes:
  • Why do I think this belongs in the appendix?
  • If someone had never seen this before, what would I want them to notice about it?
Imagine your audience. For example, during a job interview, what would someone ask about
  • a sample lesson outline or class activity that you've included?
  • examples of your students' work?
  • summaries of your student evaluations?
    Once you've imagined their questions, write your annotations based on your answers to those questions.

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