In past month I had the opportunity to go to two workshops at the learning and teaching center UVic on the teaching dossier - also called a teaching portfolio. The first was on the teaching narrative statement and the second was on the attachments - or data and evidence - that support the teaching narrative statement.
The teaching narrative statement is a description of what makes the writer a great teacher. This narrative statement should refer to data that is in the attachments. The narrative statement is a combination of a lawyer making their case and a promotional ad. I see the narrative statement as something that will show how passionate I am about teaching and mentoring. Additionally, I will support my prose with data and evidence - like a lawyer.
The attachments will contain the data and evidence to support my statement. What is the data? pretty much anything can be data or evidence. Anything that contains statements about your teaching work. Any bit of information can be essential.
At the end of the workshops, we had the opportunity to look at teaching dossiers from a graduate student, an associate professor and a ten year professor. The purpose of the teaching dossier for the student to get a job, the associate professor to get promoted and the ten year professor to receive an award. This shows the usefulness of the teaching dossier for academics throughout your career. As you might expect, the full professor had a thick impressive binder that outshines the small thin graduate’s dossier. However, this is the process of the teacher.
This made me think, as teacher, I often think about what is the process of a student. How do we get students to be confident, knowledgeable, methodical and articulate? It is my opinion that we should shape students in science based on these values. Looking at the process of teachers, by reading their dossier, gave me a new perspective. How do we improve our own process, so that we can improve the process of students. - The Process of Process. - We need to continually reflect on our own work and actions, as a teacher, and improve where needed - perfect where possible.
I think - seeing how long it takes to become a great teacher - also gives me pause. We should work hard, but also have faith that with time we will have that heavy binder full of experience and growth. And Rome was not build in a day. I look forward to learning more, building my dossier and seeing where things may go. I think that excites me. I often spend some time pondering how to achieve the right outcomes with a particular student. Try something, measure the outcomes, evaluate the outcomes against my values, try something new. Every student is different, and there is a big amount of intuition that I apply. As I grow in my teaching role, I can see my skills are improving. I can see this, when I see students that where initially not-confident, be more confident and become more knowledgeable. Hone their methods and articulate their questions and statements in a clear plain English. This gives me great joy to see this change.
It is hard to sometimes see our own process, because we don’t measure it. The day to day changes are small, but over the period of several months and year big changes do happen. The teaching dossier is a tool - as is this blog - to reflect and look at the data and work on honest self appraisal of my teaching skills.