UW Graduate School

November 6, 2014

Finding and Developing Your Teaching Experience

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Many of you want to gain teaching skills but are unable to find TA positions. This doesn’t mean there are no options. If you’re considering a teaching-focused career or a future academic position, develop a portfolio by engaging yourself in a variety of hands-on and observational experiences. Seeking out multiple, even incremental, ways to gain and learn teaching experience will give you clarity on whether or not it is the right career path for you.

We acknowledge that you are busy, that is always a given. Yet we also know that making time for your professional development, even if only for a few hours a month or quarter, is critical to your continued success before earning your graduate degree. Having teaching experiences in your back pocket will give you a leg up in the job market if you eventually decide to apply for academic positions.

Here are a few strategies:

  • Let faculty and departmental administrators know you are interested in teaching. Getting on their radar is important as they can connect you with a range of opportunities when they come up (often on short notice—for example, when an instructor is out sick and needs coverage).
  • Volunteer to give guest presentations in a course taught by your advisor, mentor or colleague.
  • Apply for a teaching fellowship through the Program for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy (PIP).
  • Volunteer at UW programs like the Genome Sciences Education Outreach program or a local non-profit to gain experience in teaching and tutoring.
  • Inquire about the possibility of Teaching Assistantships outside of your graduate program of study. Utilize your networks and ask for TA job referrals from thesis advisors or dissertation committee members.
  • Attend a Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) workshop or event.  Also check out their extensive repository of teaching resources.
  • Attend a Community College Careers and Networking reception organized by Core Programs.
  • Learn about teaching opportunities at local community colleges by contacting departmental deans and faculty directly to set up informational interviews and campus visits.

Adapted from the UW Center for Teaching & Learning’s “Ways to Continue Developing Your Teaching Strategies for Graduate Students & Post-doctoral Fellows” resource sheet.