A Question of Teaching

How can you gain teaching experience when your university doesn’t offer it?

First, it probably does, they just don’t advertise it. It took me until third year to realise my university had a lot of teaching options, but by then I was so overworked with other jobs that I decided to pass. I also knew I wasn’t continuing in academia, so teaching experience became less important (though not not important).

Your department may not have teaching options, but that does not mean no department at your university does. Email. Ask around. Ask students in other departments. Look for adverts for contract teaching, or single-course teaching, or online course-teaching. Look for tutorial positions. Look for marking. Or extra credit courses, that are often difficult for universities to find staff to teach. Go to another university nearby. There will be options available, but you have to find them. YOU have to find them. That’s what this is all about.

Look outside universities. Look for organisations that do professional development, or that are in your field of study. Perhaps you can teach a skills course, or an information class. If you know anyone at a business in your sector, ask what options they suggest.

Ask people at distant universities. Know someone who works at a university across the country? Ask if you can do a lecture via video-conference. You don’t have to travel, or only look at places near where you live. We have the technology these days to go further and do more.

See if you can volunteer somewhere that involves giving tours or talking to people. All of these count as teaching experience, because you are developing communication skills with a wide variety of people. It’s a great thing to be able to put on your CV.

Create your own teaching position. Offer departments at your university an online course option that you will teach, based on your research/field of study. CREATE positions. It does not always need to be about what’s available already.

You need to be creative. You need to think outside the box. There are experiences out there you can find, but sometimes you have to go after them with a club.

Anyone out there found creative methods to gain teaching experience while doing your PhD?


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