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What qualifies as teaching experience?

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Posted (edited)

I was looking at some job advertisements. I'm not looking yet, but I like to get an idea of what sorts of jobs are other there. I have seen positions that involve working with the public or older school-aged children (middle and high school). The minimum requirements include having a Masters degree and "teaching experience". I am curious as to what is generally considered teaching experience. Would my TAing be sufficient? My school doesn't usually allow MS students to teach their own courses, that is generally reserved for PhD students. As a TA, I have supervised lab activities and graded stuff for the professor teaching the course. I do talk to the students and try to answer their questions. I wasn't required to hold office hours, but students could easily contact me through email or come find me. I will be TAing another class this coming semester and I am hoping I will be allowed to be even more involved. As a side thing, I also participate in a mentoring program for high school students interested in research. Each mentor is paired with a student and they help them with a project. I met with my student (this last year) every week at her high school. I guess what I am asking is, does this count as teaching experience? If not, what can I do now to make myself more marketable in the future?

Edited by robot_hamster

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Posted

Hi :) I'm a high school teacher.

When I applied for my first job, I had student-taught, but I also listed other experience. I used to do SAT tutoring, both in-classroom (at a couple of local high schools, I taught prep classes) and one-on-one. In high school, I had volunteered in our school's tutoring center, and in college I had worked with an outreach program to teach math to 4th and 5th graders to at-risk students.

Based on past job applications (like, my first teaching job), I would say that any situation in which you've had to guide or teach students, whether it was one-on-one or in a classroom setting, regardless of whether it was volunteer or paid, qualifies as teaching experience. I would say to list it, and try to emphasize the teaching parts of it - any type of instructional guidance you've provided.

Some people, for example, list teaching Sunday School - it counts. What they would like to see is that you have some experience in front of a group of students, and/or that you have taught things to others.

Wording is EVERYTHING. If you assisted people in a lab, for example, word it as, "guided students in..." or "instructed..." instead of "assisted," for example. Use words that imply there was some type of teaching involved, as opposed to, for example, you were just there in the lab making sure they didn't destroy the computers ;)

Hope that helps!

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Posted

Thanks for answering! So I'm thinking that if the experience you described was enough for you to get a teaching job, then my experience should be enough to get me the sort of jobs I have been looking at. Most of them have involved working with the public, educating people, etc. I hate when they are ambiguous about qualifications. "Teaching experience" doesn't really tell you much.

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I've never applied for jobs with public schools, but I know that when I looked at summer adjunct jobs recently, they were very specific about hard-and-fast teaching requirements (i.e., if what they really required was classroom experience, they specified that and told you how many credit hours an applicant should have already taught).

If the posting is ambiguous, it might mean that spinning the experiences you do have (a la Teacher4PhD) would be possible.

Good luck!

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Posted

Thanks for answering! So I'm thinking that if the experience you described was enough for you to get a teaching job, then my experience should be enough to get me the sort of jobs I have been looking at. Most of them have involved working with the public, educating people, etc. I hate when they are ambiguous about qualifications. "Teaching experience" doesn't really tell you much.

Well, to clarify, I didn't get hired as a teacher based only on that... I also had student-taught under two master teachers by this point. But those types of experiences would have been okay for getting hired as a sub, for example.

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Posted

runonsentence - That makes sense. These jobs don't involve teaching in a classroom, so maybe that is why they are being ambiguous with the requirements. I would hope that they are just making sure you can communicate with people effectively since the job involves educating the public.

Teacher4Phd - Thanks for clarifying. I still think I'm on the right track based on what you said though. The jobs I was looking at weren't teaching jobs, they just want applicants to have teaching experience (presumably) because they would be working with the public and educating them on things.

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Posted

Just wanted to make sure you didn't think that teachers get hired based on SAT tutoring :D And I do agree you're on the right track.

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Posted

The only discussion I've heard is in relation to getting hired at the college level for teaching- and there indeed, most schools seem to be of the opinion that TAing is not "teaching experience", and that the real "teaching experience" they're looking for is that you've taken a class from start to finish, and can do that. To that end, the advice I've heard is try to adjunct at their school/another school in the area their last year or so, or taking a "teaching post-doc" position.

I would imagine it might be a bit different for the kind of job's you describe, however.

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Posted

Thank you for your input. I'm feeling a little less afraid. Especially if I word things like Teacher4PhD suggested.

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Posted

I was thinking about this again last night, and I had another suggestion- have you talked to your PI about getting more teaching experience? I approached mine at the end of last semester, and told him I felt the extra teaching experience would be really valuable, so he's been trying to help me carve out niches that I can put on my CV- putting me as "co-teaching" courses instead of TAing courses with him, running review sections/subbing when he's out of class, etc.

I know other professors have been similarly helpful, if they know that's the direction you're going in. You had mentioned talking to your department, but sometimes talking to a close professor can work too- they can help you get in on whatever they're teaching in a more official capacity.

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Eigen - No I haven't specifically said to my adviser that I would like more teaching experience. I'm not a TA for my adviser though, either. He currently only teaches one class that requires a TA and that position is filled by a PhD student. I have actually been going through a coordinator to secure TA positions. I will be talking to the professor I am TAing for this semester before school starts, so I can always ask them about it. That does sound like a good idea. Maybe they will at least give me the opportunity to fill in if they need to miss class. I don't know, I'll have to see. :)

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Posted

I don't officially TA for my advisor either- but he was able to find classes that didn't normally require a TA, and let me assist in teaching them both as CV additions and for the experience- I don't get paid for it, but I do get the experience.

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Posted

Oh, I see what you're saying. Hmm, I don't know. I guess I've never seen anyone do that before. It is something I can look into though.

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Posted (edited)

I know our university is encouraging it- in the job market, teaching experience is becoming more important, so it makes our graduate students a lot more competitive if they have some of it.

They're working to set up "mentoring" teaching programs, wherein the professor is still the "teacher" of record, but with a senior graduate student listed as a co-teacher.

Edited by Eigen

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Posted

Wow, that's interesting. I suppose it would be nice to have teaching experience sort of built in like that.

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Posted

I actually started volunteering at our local adult school just to get real "teaching experience." Good luck!

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The only discussion I've heard is in relation to getting hired at the college level for teaching- and there indeed, most schools seem to be of the opinion that TAing is not "teaching experience", and that the real "teaching experience" they're looking for is that you've taken a class from start to finish, and can do that.

I think this really depends on the department. In my department, TAs teach their own discussion sections, teach lab sections, and serve as instructor of record for courses they design. I've done the latter on four occasions and if that doesn't count as "real teaching experience" then there's no chance I'll ever get anything better.

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Woundering if anyone can answer this question. So are there ever instances where a grad student would teach their own course while they are in their program? I'm going into an MA program, there is no PhD program in the department, and curious what might happen. Have read elsewhere on the boards that grad students do teach their own courses. Also, anyone know what the deal is with summer courses? Can you get to teach those in an MA?

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Woundering if anyone can answer this question. So are there ever instances where a grad student would teach their own course while they are in their program? I'm going into an MA program, there is no PhD program in the department, and curious what might happen. Have read elsewhere on the boards that grad students do teach their own courses. Also, anyone know what the deal is with summer courses? Can you get to teach those in an MA?

It really depends on the program or department. I don't know any masters level students that teach their own course in my program or even the larger umbrella school it belongs to. Most of us are either graders or we do the lab sections. I did a little more stuff for the very last class I was a TA for, but I had to follow everything that the professor had set out. I know students in other programs though that get to teach their own courses from start to finish, they create their own syllabus and everything. These students are mostly in the humanities. I don't know much about it works in humanities, but maybe it is just something that is more commonly done overall. Don't quote me on that though.

As for summer courses, my school doesn't offer a ton of summer courses for TA opportunities are very limited.

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Posted

I do not believe being a TA would count as teching experience for these purposes. This is not based on anything solid, though.

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Woundering if anyone can answer this question. So are there ever instances where a grad student would teach their own course while they are in their program? I'm going into an MA program, there is no PhD program in the department, and curious what might happen. Have read elsewhere on the boards that grad students do teach their own courses. Also, anyone know what the deal is with summer courses? Can you get to teach those in an MA?

At my current school, grad students can be employed as "Teaching Fellows" and are paid a standard rate to teach a course (~$7800 per 12-week course) instead of an hourly rate like TAs. TFs are responsible for planning and delivering a course to undergraduates, but they may be supervised/guided by a faculty member. For example, there may be a faculty member in charge of Course 101 and 3 graduate students employed as TFs to teach 3 sections. TFs may also be assigned other graduate students as TAs for the course. TFs would definitely count as strong "teaching experience" because you work almost like a sessional lecturer (i.e. preparing your own lectures and syllabus). However, TFs are much more common in the humanities and social sciences here -- my department (physics) has no TFs.

I think TA experience would be helpful, but it's not going to be as good as something like the above, and with only TA experience, you will probably not be as competitive amongst other applicants who did not go to grad school and went for a career in teaching instead. But, TA experience isn't worthless, you should be sure to describe your roles clearly and let them decide if they will count it as teaching experience or not.

However, if you are serious about a career in teaching, consider volunteering in your free time (ha) to get more experience. In my home province, in order to get into the B. Education program, applicants need to have 2 solid cases of working with youths in a teaching capacity (e.g. Scout leader, teach Sunday school, etc.) If you are competing with people who are/were in the Education stream, they would have lots of experience like this and you should try to get some too!

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Posted

Teaching fellows sounds like a great experience...it bridges the gap of going from a TA to a course instructor. I wish my department had this!

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