Finding a Higher Education Position Where Teaching Comes First

Article excerpt

My community college is in the throes of hiring new faculty. Each spring as we complete this process, I am struck again by the realization that many qualified applicants simply have no idea what teaching at the community college (also labeled a two-year college or, less frequently, a junior college) involves and how to obtain such a position. So, I would like to offer advice about training, applying, and interviewing for a community-college applicant as opposed to a university one.

First of all, working at a community college is all about teaching. However, underlying that statement is the understanding that to be a good teacher one must also be informed about one's discipline and knowledgeable about ways to help students learn. Teachers who are the best in their fields know that behind the subject area knowledge is an assumption that good teaching is based on research as well as application.

Because experts in the field understand this assumption, they have articulated what is needed in terms of adequate training to be a community-college teacher. For example, the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges led the way in 1992 with a document, "Guidelines for the Academic Preparation of Mathematics Faculty in Two-Year Colleges," and the Two-Year College Association (TYCA) of the National Council of English Teachers is preparing a similar document delineating the program of study that will make one a successful community-college English teacher.

Before even applying for a position, the candidate needs to visit the campus or at least review the website and the catalogue to be sure that he or she shares the goals of the college and understands the curriculum for that particular college. Taking time to do this will help the candidate frame answers on the application and in the interview.

Unlike some university-hiring processes, the community-college application usually includes a required application, a resume (which cannot be substituted for the official application), a cover letter, transcripts, and sometimes supplemental questions, letters of reference, and lesson plans. To obtain an interview, the candidate needs to follow the job-announcement guidelines carefully. …