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Applying for assistant professor position with limited teaching experience

Course Queries Syllabus Queries

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( 4 months ago )

I am applying for an assistant professor position at a research university (in one of the hard sciences). It is stated in the announcement that some teaching will be required, and a teaching statement is needed for for the application.

I only have limited teaching experience. I have never taught a full semester course. I have helped out colleagues by teaching their courses for 1-2 weeks at a time, while they were travelling. Thus I taught as many as 7-8 different subjects, mostly graduate courses, but always for a very short time (except once, when I did it for 2 months).

I did enjoy these short opportunities to teach and I was hoping to be able to teach a full course at some point, but at my current job this was unfortunately impossible for a number of reasons outside of my control.

Will this lack of experience seriously harm my application? How should I approach writing the teaching statement in my situation? I do have opinions on how to each effectively in the classroom, but they may be naïve: they are based more on my experience as a student than as a teacher. I am even less confident about laying out a syllabus for a full semester (what is too much or too little, best organization, etc. -- following a textbook is not always an option).

Should I describe and discuss my background at length? I fear that doing so will highlight my inexperience too much. But not doing so makes it difficult to beyond generalities.

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