finding good teachers

Having taken on an administrative position in my department, I’ve been looking at applications and will start interviewing for part-time faculty.  This got me thinking… how can you tell when a great teacher shows up?

There are things you look for on paper, of course: education and experience.  We also look at cover letters and resumes.  What applicants really should remember – and it surprises me that more do not pay attention to this – is to proofread and show good writing in their application.  After all, the application is for the position of writing instructor!  If there are a lot of writing errors, most hiring managers will disregard that application.

Now, once someone looks great on paper, then comes the hard part… What kind of teacher will this person be?  How will this person handle student issues?  What is their teaching philosophy – the one with which they enter the classroom everyday, not the one that they profess in interviews?  Sometimes, the references or former supervisors give very insightful comments – even when they don’t outright say negative things, often you can sense reservations or careful word choices.

Each teacher has his or her own teaching style and approach.  However, I’d say that there are a few core things that hiring managers are looking for – especially at a community college.

  1. true and current knowledge of the subject matter – if you want to teach writing, you have to demonstrate good writing
  2. cooperative team player – search committees are looking for good colleagues as well as good teachers
  3. respect for students – applicants who make fun of students or complain about them never make a good impression
  4. willingness to listen to feedback and constructive criticism – this also requires the ability to reflect
  5. honesty – everyone can see BS a mile away – really
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