This content has been written in collaboration with the Centre for Teaching Excellence. To gain feedback on your teaching statement or dossier, please email Kristin Brown, Educational Developer, TA Training and Writing Support at the Centre for Teaching Excellence. Learn more about professional development opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows offered by the CTE.
A teaching dossier is a portfolio of your teaching experience that demonstrates your reflective approach to teaching. It typically contains three components: a teaching statement of your overall beliefs about teaching, a narrative providing evidence of your teaching, and artefacts from your experience. A teaching dossier should not repeat what is in your curriculum vitae (CV), but instead, provide the reader a sense of what it is like to be a student in your classroom.
Note that a teaching dossier can reflect all your teaching experience as a teaching assistant, lab instructor, guest lecturer, or course instructor. You can still prepare a teaching dossier even if you have not taught your own course.
Teaching dossier is the preferred term in Canada, but you might also hear the document referred to as a “teaching portfolio” if you are applying to institutions outside of Canada.
A teaching statement (also referred to as a teaching philosophy statement or a statement of teaching interests) is a 1-2-page statement of what you believe and value in teaching as demonstrated through specific practices, supported by evidence of effectiveness. In other words, it summarizes your teaching beliefs and provides examples of how you put those beliefs into practice.
The teaching statement is also the first section of a teaching dossier. You can think of the statement as an overview of who you are as a teacher, which is then further supported by the narrative of the dossier and appendices. Hence, a good teaching statement can stand alone, but also align, and be supported by, the remaining sections of the teaching dossier.
Below are four suggestions for gaining and preparing materials for your teaching dossier:
Collect evidence of your teaching: Start a folder to save materials you have developed for teaching; for example, lesson plans, lesson slides, teaching and learning activities, teaching evaluations (formal or informal), assessments you have (co-)developed, syllabi you have (co-)developed.
Seek out teaching opportunities: If you do not have the opportunity to teach tutorials, labs, or a course, guest lectures are a great way to gain teaching experience. Let instructors in your department know you are interested in guest lecture opportunities.
Seek feedback on your teaching: Even if you do not receive formal course evaluations, there are many ways you can get feedback on your teaching, including asking your students to give you mid-term feedback or having someone observe your teaching. Check out the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) resources on Tools for Reflecting on Your Teaching and Using Mid-Term Student Feedback for suggestions on how to collect this feedback.
Consider professional development opportunities about teaching: CTE has professional development opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who want to develop their teaching skills.
Recommendations for the length of teaching dossiers vary, but for academic job applications, they tend to be no more than 20 pages (10 pages for commentary, 10 pages for appendices). There is no standardized format for a teaching dossier, but they tend to include three components: a teaching statement; a narrative body to expand on and provide evidence for the teaching statement; and appendices of teaching artefacts.
Here is one structure you could use for a teaching dossier, but we encourage you to include sections that fit your experience and the institution you are applying to:
|Teaching Statement (1-2 pages)||What are your teaching beliefs and values? What examples from your teaching show you put these beliefs and values into practice?|
|Teaching Experience||What courses have you been involved with? What was your role in these courses?|
|Teaching Strategies||What teaching methods have you used in your courses? What types of assessments have you used?|
|Evaluations of Teaching||
In this section, you should reflect on and interpret the feedback you have received. What feedback have you received on your teaching? What changes have you made based on this feedback?
We encourage you to include evaluations from different perspectives such as students, instructors, and teaching centre staff.
|Professional Development||What professional development opportunities have you participated in related to teaching? What did you learn from them? How did they shape your teaching?|
|Future Goals||What are your future goals as an instructor? What are your goals for your students? This section should be tailored to the specific position you are applying to.|
|Appendices (10 pages maximum)||
Be selective when choosing appendices. Your appendices should provide evidence for the claims you made in your teaching statement and the body of the dossier.
Since teaching dossiers are meant to be reflective and narrative, paragraphs are strongly encouraged. There may be portions where bullets are used, but we strongly encourage you use paragraph style for most of the document.
It is valuable to include feedback on your teaching from multiple perspectives, such as students, instructors, and teaching centre staff. Student feedback can come from various sources:
Student feedback from course evaluations: An effective way to present quantitative data is by aggregating student ratings for each course you have taught in the form of means or percentages. You can also include qualitative data from open-ended questions; see the bullet below for considerations when selecting student comments.
Student comments: When determining whether to include student comments in your dossier, consult instructors in your discipline to determine whether these would be considered valid sources of evidence by a hiring committee. When selecting student comments, consider whether they provide evidence for the claims you made in your teaching statement or dossier. If you include comments, they should be unedited. Unsolicited comments from students (i.e., emails from students) should only be included in your dossier if you have permission from the student to use the comment in your dossier.
Student feedback from mid-term feedback: If you collected mid-term feedback from your students, you could provide a summary of the data or findings.
While there is no specific format for a teaching statement, one way to structure the statement is as follows:
The statement should focus on you as an instructor and your students, rather than compare yourself to other instructors. Use first-person and present tense to highlight what you do in your teaching, rather than what you did, or what you will do. Try to incorporate examples from your discipline to give the reader a sense of what it is like to be a student in your classroom.
There are several reflective exercises and tools you can use to help you determine your core beliefs about teaching. Try some of the exercises below and see if they are helpful in identifying your beliefs.
A teaching dossier can reflect all your teaching experience as a teaching assistant, lab instructor, guest lecturer, and/or course instructor. You can still prepare a teaching dossier if you have not taught your own course. Here are some suggestions:
Tip for academic applications: Check to see if the institution you are applying to has a guide for teaching dossiers. It might be helpful to see what the institution you are applying to suggests for including in the document. Below are additional resources:
This content has been written in collaboration with the Writing and Communication Centre. For receiving feedback on Diversity Statements, you can book an appointment with the Centre for Career Development via WaterlooWorks (under Cover Letters) or book an appointment with the Writing and Communication Centre via their website.
A diversity statement demonstrates your commitment and contributions to diversity and/or inclusion, particularly in your academic career. The statement should be at least one page, but it can be longer. Your statement can address the following aspects of your academic career: research, research practices, teaching and pedagogy, service or volunteer work, and future commitments to diversity and inclusion.
You do not need to address all these aspects of your academic career; there is no one-size fits all version of a diversity statement. A diversity statement is composed from a deep reflection on the various ways you have been committed to diversity and inclusion. Focus on the aspects of your career that best demonstrate that commitment.
The purpose of the diversity statement is to demonstrate alignment with the department‘s inclusivity and diversity mission. The hiring committee wants to know that you will be able to contribute to the department‘s—and the university‘s—mission, rather than uphold existing barriers and practices that exclude equity-seeking groups.
Your diversity statement should demonstrate to the hiring committee that you understand and can work with a diverse and/or under-represented population in an inclusive manner across your research, teaching, and/or service. Below are a few examples:
Research: If your research incorporates a research practice or a way of knowing from under-represented groups that historically have not or does not get counted as research, how have you done so ethically and with care? Does your research feed back into the community or communities that you work with?
Teaching: In your teaching, you can speak to the ways that the design of your course creates an inclusive environment and accommodates student needs. For example, you might describe how you communicate tacit knowledge for first generation students.
Service: In your volunteer work or academic service, have you participated in an outreach committee or initiative that is designed to support under-represented populations in your field? For instance, you participated in a community outreach camp for girls in tech and entrepreneurship, Technovation Girls.
There are a number of ways to structure your diversity statement, and how you structure the statement should highlight your contributions and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Below is a guide for your reference when structuring your diversity statement.
The introduction sets the tone of your diversity statement and gives an indication to the reader what the following statement will address. Possible introductory topics include but are not limited to:
The body paragraphs of the diversity statement can be organized in a number of ways, whether the statement moves chronologically or explores different areas of your past experiences with diversity. Regardless, each paragraph should have a clear topical focus. Below are some topics your body paragraphs can focus on:
In your conclusion, summarize your letter and connect to your future contributions at the institution you are applying to. How will you continue your commitments and contributions to diversity and inclusion at that university? What would these contributions look like? How do your past and future contributions align with the department‘s/university‘s diversity and inclusion mission?
Before you ask yourself this question, seriously reflect on how you might have contributed to diversity and inclusion in your academic career. Remember that diversity includes a wide range of topics such as race, gender and sexuality, disability, and demographics such as age, class, first-generation students, university culture, off-campus communities, etc. Diversity can be demonstrated in your research, ethical approaches to your research, how you have created an inclusive environment in your classroom, pedagogical approaches, and volunteer work.
If none of the above apply, then focus the majority of your letter on your future commitment to diversity: what are some actions you will take in your research, teaching, and service to start contributing to diversity and inclusion? You can also provide plans or recommendations for the kinds of diversity work you will be doing at the institution you are applying to.
Yes. If you absolutely feel that your research does not demonstrate your contributions/commitment to diversity nor can you think of how your research can be committed to diversity in the future, you do not have to discuss your research in a diversity statement.
Remember, a diversity statement does not have to cover all aspects of your academic career. There is no template or one-size fits all model for diversity statements. Writing one requires you to think deeply about all areas of your academic career. Reflect on:
The structure of your document demonstrates the information that you think is most important from asking yourself these questions.