Post-course: Reflection and Portfolio Building
You made it through the semester – now is the opportunity to reflect on your experience, identify the skills you have gained and incorporate evaluations, letters from instructors and your successes into your teaching dossier and future teaching work. These resources will help make the most of your Teaching Assistant experience in terms of self-reflection, building your teaching dossier and handling student evaluations productively.
Official or unofficial student evaluations can provide constructive feedback to help you grow as a teacher. It is within your Union contract to receive feedback on your TAing. You can check whether your department will ask students for feedback with the official professor/course evaluation. If not administered by the department, ask your course instruct if you can give out TA evaluations. Make sure to give your course instructor notice and consider the best date to handout the evaluations (i.e., not on a test day)
- Comprehensive guideline (pdf) for understanding the purpose of evaluations, the construction of evaluations (including samples for specific types of TAs) and how to effectively use evaluations to improve teaching throughout the semester (also includes resource guide
- Survey Monkey sample for an online TA evaluation
- Dealing with “negative” evaluations:
- Ask for course instructor if they would write you a letter for your teaching dossier.
- If your course instructor is willing to write you a letter, compile student feedback and provide a list of specific duties you performed in the class. Your instructor can use this information to write a personalized letter of reference for your teaching dossier.
Recognize your Success and Keep Growing
- A teaching journal allows you to reflect on the course and your role and is an excellent resource to return to year after year. Think about: what worked in a course? What were great teaching examples? What would you do differently? Also keep note of your specific contribution to the course.
- Create a Smile File: a physical or digital folder where you keep outstanding feedback, thank you notes from students and other evidence of your excellence as a teacher!
- Submit successful teaching strategy to Great Ideas in Teaching
- Register for advanced program such as ATP or GS 9500
- Register for the TSC mentor program
- Remind course instructor to tell students about TA Awards
Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement
As a TA you were engaged in the process of teaching. By reflecting on your teaching pedagogy and by using concrete examples from your TA experience you can start to build a teaching philosophy.
- TSCs guidelines for preparing a Teaching Dossier and Teaching Philosophy Statement
- Great tips on teaching philosophy statements, including rubrics from the University of Michigan
- Watch for Future Professor series on writing teaching philosophies and building your teaching dossier
- Think about all the activities and roles you completed as a TA (e.g. were you on time for office hours? Did you give written feedback on assignments? Did you ask questions of students to help guide them in labs?) and relate these to your teaching philosophy.This will give you some concrete teaching strategies you can draw on for your teaching philosophy even if you haven’t taught a class.
Keep a folder of syllabi (and if you take notes, keep those too) for all classes you have TA’ed
This is a great resource when you start to build your own syllabi
- Continuously revise your syllabi
- Keep notes of classroom activities (for example, take photos of white board brain storms, keep copies of great student assignments)
Ask to do a “guest” lecture for the course and get feedback from the professor/course instructor
Also, consider asking to give a guest lecture the next year if the course is going to be offered, even if you aren’t TAing for the same course.