Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Dollar When I'm Hard Up VI

A job ad said I should include sample syllabi with my application crap. Okay, I thought to myself, my standard teaching portfolio's got paragraph format descriptions of courses I've taught and courses I'm prepared to teach. They include descriptions of each course's major themes and questions, a list of readings, and a few words about assignment. Surely that's going to be good enough, I thought. No one actually wants to read the day by day reading schedule, right?

Wrong again, loser. I got an acknowledgment of my application this week saying it was incomplete because I hadn't included sample syllabi. So a couple of days ago I had to spend another $1.31 on postage to send them some syllabi. That brings me up to $450.79 for the year.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can explain about the syllabus, this has been an issue for all the candidates in all of the departments on campus. – it is a royal pain, I must admit.

To be honest, it doesn’t matter at the initial stage; no one bothers to look at them.

But, if you are the finalist, the provost reviews each candidate’s complete file before an official offer is made and he likes to look at the past syllabuses of all finalists we are going to make an offer to, so it doesn’t matter until the very end.

Anonymous said...

Here's another worry. Most files are put together by the department's administrative staff (either full-timers or students). These folks are usually the ones who check off what materials are received and what is missing. Unless the department gives these folks very detailed instructions to delve into your materials, they will probably mark your file as incomplete for X when the presence of X isn't obvious.

Also, Anon 7:17 may be right about her own school, but lots of folks will want to see syllabi for courses well before the deans and provost. Don't have syllabi? Get some--you may not realize you're competing with many people teaching full-time (VAPs or TTs) for 1-5yrs. Put some thought into them for teaching places...

Lacanista said...

I think anonymous 8pm-ish is right -- the people who check off the materials look exactly for what they are looking for -- one or more, separately collated syllabi. Even though this information is in some detail in your teaching packet, and the committee may understand that, it has to get to the committee first, as a complete file.

One thing you could do in these situations is to address this in the little letter you include with the syllabi you will mail. Something like "I include here the sample syllabi requested. These are XXXXX and XXXXX courses, which I taught at X in X [skip this obvs if you haven't taught these courses]. Additionally, in my teaching portfolio (pp. ?-?) you will find information about how I would teach XXXX, XXXX and XXXX." don't hesitate to contact me if you want anything -- really, any time, day or night, blah blah.

Anything to point out to a tired committee member scanning your file where to find info is very useful (esp. when the "where to" directions are not buried in a 2-page, 11 pt. font, jam-packed letter). Consider the additional small letter a good addition.

As anonymous 7pm-ish pointed out -- few people look at the syllabi at this point. But those who do might be looking for things like -- do you give a lot of exams? assign a lot of writing? what kind of writing? Teaching depts. will find this stuff interesting.

Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed at what people think constitutes a syllabus. I look at a lot online, to see what people are doing. And most of them are Week 1, Chapter 1; Week 2, Chapter 2; Week Six, midterm. All the important stuff is generally left out: how a typical class is structured, details about paper assignments, etc. So I'd say your one-paragraph summaries are as useful as a lot of complete syllabi. But to get past the secretaries who do the initial sorting, you need to put them on separate pages, list fake weekly assignments, and so on. That's 10 minutes work to turn a paragraph into the form of a syllabus, and it will be as good as what three quarters of candidates provide.

Lacanista: I always provide the where-to-find details in the final paragraph of my 1.5 page, 11-point cover letter, and I've always assumed that was standard, just like the first paragraph says I'm applying for the assistant prof position in philosophy as advertised in JFP. Am I wrong?

Lacanista said...

Anonymous 10:56am -- no, that's absolutely right (the final paragraph saying where everything can be found and the dossier service is sending the letters, etc). But it's also nice when you're thumbing through a file that has its required 2 sample syllabi in it to get a notification that there's even more specific course info on pp. # of the reading packet.

Basically, I was pointing out that even the extra work and extra price that candidate paid for the separate syllabi may have a positive effect sheerly by creating a "notice" piece of paper. But not having something like that is not a loss. The readers will look over the teaching dossier with or without extra prompting (or at least they should, if it's primarily a teaching institution).

wikimonger said...

I had my syllabi at the back of my teaching portfolio.

However, my TP has a table of contents on the second page. That says where the syllabi are. This seems to have worked since no schools have called to request them.

Anonymous said...

Question: I also included a table of contents. However, i was informed that a school wanted ALL of my evaluations from students. Of course, i should also include the relevant syllabi. After collating syllabi with evaluation my app. is over 100pgs. long. As a grad. student i've taught at two schools and thus i have a lot of different courses and evaluations. Why would they want such a monstrosity of a document? It looks like a dissertation. By the way, i was also asked to include a research statement, teaching statement, cv, cover letter, diss. precis. Again, do they really want this gargantuan document?

wikimonger said...

Wow. I am glad I didn't apply for that job!

dissertator said...

newbie here: In the JFP the ads ask for "a letter of application" is that simply the cover letter or is that an online application on the university's website where you input your basic info? thanks in advance.

junior person said...

To anon. 8.54am: I'm surprised that schools require that much information at the outset; I suspect that this might just be an administrative requirement. I can't imagine anyone on a SC reading all of that. I know I wouldn't have done, and I'm pretty concientious. However, some departments MIGHT want such information either before or after an on-campus interview. My current institution (which is about a perfect a job as I can imagine, for many, many, many reasons--let's call it Sheer Bliss College!) wanted all of my teaching evaluations for my entire TT career, and everyoe read them thoroughly, to the extent of mentioning particular student comments. I should note that this is one of the rare schools where teaching and research really are on an equal footing, and so all of my publications and works in progress were requested and thoroughly read, too. (Luckily, I was applying at a time when I was up for early tenure and promotion at my former instituion--Pure Hell U.--so all of this was ready to hand.) In my limited experience, this sort of thing at the on-campus stage is a very good sign indeed that your potential colleagues are going to be SUPERB colleagues! So, don't get too annoyed about this degree of scrutiny later in the game.

To dissertator: A letter of application is just your cover letter, saying you're applying for the job.

Anonymous said...

Junior Person from anon 8:54: It's actually for a one year dissertation fellowship during which the fellow teaches one class each semester.

dissertator said...

To Junior Person,

Thanks for the advice!

juniorperson said...

To anon. 8.54--in that case, it's an insane requirement--and must be an institutional one.

To dissertator: You're welcome!

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity is this the USF diss. fellowship. If so, I think I am screwed I didn't send evals for all of my classes.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 1204: It is for the USF. This thing must be competitive. I'm never sure what this means: "evidence of teaching ability (student evaluations)". Perhaps you do not need to send all of them. Perhaps they want a sampling. However, some grads have taught three classes and others 13. I suppose they can sift through what they want to read.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 1:50,

Anon. 12:04 here, I sent a sampling of my evals and no one complained...so far. The other material they asked for is pretty standard as far as fellowships go, except for maybe the teaching statement.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:04 again, I don't think it could be that competitive. There is not much diversity in philosophy. I'd be surprised if they get more than 20 applications (from philosophy students, that is).

Anonymous said...

There's three of us commmenting at the same blog on the same entry around the same time. I hope it's not that competitive, but what are the chances of all us being here? Anyway, good luck. I just hope they don't throw my monstrosity out the window!

Nate said...
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