Over in our OnRamp course, we’ve had several discussions about the “parts” of an online teaching job application. These include: The CV, the cover letter, the Statement of Teaching Philosophy, and the interview. While some schools ask for additional materials (i.e., student evals, Statements of Faith, writing samples, etc.), these four are by far and away the most common.
In preparing these documents or practicing for an interview it really helps to know the purpose of each document/phase. What does the school want to know by looking at my CV? What are they looking to get from my cover letter? What do they need to read in my Statement of Teaching Philosophy? What is it they are hoping to get from me during an interview? Indeed, each of these steps are asking for something in particular and ought not be redundant, as to make sure you are covering each point the hiring school is looking to see. Below, I’ll give a brief summary of what each part of the application process in intended to do, and hopefully this streamlines your thinking as you prepare and apply.
- The CV: CV stands for curriculum vita, and roughly translated it means your “life’s work.” This document is typically longer than a traditional resume and demonstrates how you, over the course of your adult life, have cultivated your expertise, skills, talents, and knowledge such that you are now ready to impart them to your students. The CV answers the question: How qualified is this person to teach?
- The Cover Letter: The cover letter may highlight some of what you included in your CV, but it is not a summary of your CV. In your cover letter, you walk step by step through the particular school’s requirements and preferences and start checking them off. In other words, “You require/prefer X,Y, and Z? Well, I have X, Y, and Z…” and you describe X, Y, and Z succinctly. You will show interest in working for that school’s particular student population and discuss how your mission aligns with the school’s. The cover letter answers the question: Does this person meet our particular set of requirements/preferences for this position?
- The Statement of Teaching Philosophy: The Statement of Teaching Philosophy is an essay that covers your particular beliefs about the educational process. It does not include CV information or talk about your qualifications – it is a summary of your beliefs about what a good instructor does, how a good instructor views their relationship with their students, and how a good instructor engages their learners. The Statement of Teaching Philosophy answers the question: What does this person believe about online higher education and the role of the instructor?
- The Interview: The interview is an opportunity for schools to ask questions that were not covered in the above documents. While some schools may ask you about things that are on your CV (i.e., “Walk me through your educational background”), for the most part, they will ask you questions that get at how you will behave in the classroom. The interviewer is looking to acquire a sense of you – how you will present yourself in the classroom, how organized and collected your thinking is, and (I think most importantly) how approachable you are. How will you be with students? The interviewers aren’t looking as much for a particular answer as they are how you will benefit or fit with their students. It’s a snapshot of you-as-instructor. The interview answers the question: What will this person be like in the classroom?
We go over these documents as well as common interview questions in our OnRamp: A Practical Guide to Landing an Online Teaching Job course. You also get a ton of great feedback on these “parts” of the application, and leave class confident in your application package, ready to send it off as soon as an online teaching opportunity comes across your screen. Click the link above to learn more!