UW Graduate School

April 16, 2015

Preparing for Teaching Careers at Community Colleges

If teaching is your passion, it is well worth exploring a career working at a community college. Although community colleges can vary from one another, excellence in teaching and student-centered learning are always top priorities. Community colleges also offer an array of degrees and certificates, serving student populations that enrich and diversify the classroom. Because teaching is such a priority, it takes the right approach to be successful in getting a faculty position at a community college. It is also worth learning about, and applying to, different campuses to find the best organizational fit for you.  In the meantime, below are a few tips to consider when applying:

Preparing and Applying

Every community college has a unique mission statement and set of core values. Visit the college’s website to learn more about its institutional culture and courses offered. Contact faculty and set up informational interviews at the campus. Gain a sense of student experiences on campus by engaging students in conversation. Your goal is to learn as much as you can about the institution so you can tailor your application. More tips:

  • Read the faculty job posting carefully to know what is expected
  • Tailor your cover letter and highlight your enthusiasm for the college’s mission and student population stating why you want to work at that specific institution, your awareness of the college’s student learning needs, and your interest and experience in teaching
  • Submit a concise resume that showcases your teaching experience and de-emphasizes your research
  • Submit a well-crafted statement that describes your teaching philosophy

The Interview

Community college interview panels will have a standard set of questions. Set up a mock interview with a friend or peer and practice your responses to the following sample questions. You’re aiming for well-thought out responses that speak to your specific experiences with teaching and why you’re a great fit for the college. It also doesn’t hurt to contact the department and ask what you can expect during the interview. Sample interview questions:

  • Why do you want to teach at our college?
  • Give an example of a successful teaching experience you had in the classroom.
  • Talk about your greatest frustration in teaching and what you learned from this.
  • Tell us about your experience working or volunteering in diverse settings.
  • How do you assess student learning?
  • What departmental activities were you involved in during grad school or while you taught at another college?

Teaching Demo

During the interview, you will most likely be required to do a teaching demo for the hiring committee. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare:

  • Do an online search and look at course syllabi from the department you are applying to
  • Design a lesson with the college’s student population in mind and treat the demo as if you were teaching a real class
  • Start your lesson by describing the goals for the day and ask everyone to introduce themselves
  • Include activities that get committee members talking with each other
  • Use handouts as a teaching tool
  • Avoid lecturing and be relatable
  • Make sure your lesson highlights your teaching philosophy

Core Programs thanks our partners in the Seattle Colleges District for providing feedback on this newsletter:

Marty Logan, Human Resources Director, North Seattle College
Kate Krieg, Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Division, Seattle Central College

Additional Resources