When I reconnected with my office mates after labor day last year, we started talking about how we had no idea how to put together our teaching portfolios. The thing to do, we figured, would be to bring it up at the first meeting with the placement committee.
The placement committee is the group of faculty members in charge of quarterbacking the department's efforts to get us jobs. Last year, it consisted of two senior profs, who I'll call Old-World Septagenarian and Evil Columbo, for reasons I'll get into another time. What my office mates and I hadn't anticipated was the possiblity that both these guys would have absolutely no fucking idea what a teaching portfolio was. They were only dimly aware that they even existed. Worse still, they didn't care to learn anything about them either.
When we forced the issue--which we did, repeatedly--the Old-World Septagenarian told us he thought the department secretary sent something out for us. In fact, this was the answer we got when we asked any member of the senior faculty. (Except, that is, for Evil Columbo, who would just tell us, busting with arrogant pride, that he didn't know anything about them, and he didn't even read them when he was going through applications when our department was hiring. He was such a helpful part of the process.)
But this response about the secretary made no sense. She couldn't send out individualized teaching philosophies. Still, the Old-World Septagenarian insisted whatever this teaching business was about, the sectretary took care of it. If there was anything like an individualized teaching philosophy the secretary didn't send, then it probably wasn't necessary. None of this stuff was our problem.
Of course, that turned out to be wrong. Very wrong. My teaching portfolio really was my problem. More tomorrow.