So. You need to write a teaching philosophy and send it along in your teaching portfolio. But your placement chair won’t tell you what a teaching philosophy is, and even if he did, the secretary wouldn’t let you send it with your portfolio. What do you do?
Well, when you’re sitting in the placement meeting where your situation is getting explained to you, you keep one eye on the white knuckles and fists of your usually genial office mate. Because he looks like he wants to take a swing at the Old World Septuagenarian, and you don’t think the old man could survive a hard punch in the face.
But also, you talk to junior faculty, since they’ve had to do this shit themselves in a not too distant past. As it turned out, my office mates and me had all been thinking along those lines and talking to different junior profs, and they—the junior profs—had the idea to have a little meeting of their own. So one afternoon, three members of the junior faculty sat down with those of us on the job market and told us what we needed to know.
They explained that a teaching philosophy should, ideally, do three things: emphasize the specific experience we have; emphasize the goals we have for teaching the specific sub-disciplines we teach; and above all else, not sound like every other teaching statement. (“My goal in teaching philosophy is to critically engage students critically in order to provide them with the critical resources to foster their critical thinking skills, so they can engage critically with critical challenges they’ll face blah, blah, critically blah.”)
That meeting, and others like it with the junior faculty, saved my fucking sanity. That’s why it’s such good news that there’s going to be a junior prof on the placement committee with coming year.
More on this, and more on why I heart junior faculty, later.