Developmental Stages of Teaching

Two women are talking. Photo by Rod Searcey for Stanford CTL.

Developmental Stages of Teaching Overview

All teachers (and researchers) will generally move through a continuum of developmental stages as they progress from a novice to master. Below is a short description of three key developmental stages that should help illustrate how you might build skills at any given stage within the Four Areas of Focus.  All the activities and services on our home page (Grad Teaching @Stanford) can be sorted by the different developmental stages so you can easily find options that are most useful to you.

It is important to note that as you are exposed to different teaching methods and pedagogies, you might move back and forth on this continuum throughout your teaching career, and thus require different resources to deepen your expertise and practice.

Building a Foundation

As you begin teaching, you switch roles from learner to instructor. While you have certainly seen examples of good and bad teaching, you may not necessarily have identified what specific practices would help facilitate learning or even what basic management and organization skills are needed to lead a classroom. At this stage of development, you will want to consider carefully what your new role and responsibilities entail. Now is the time to gain basic practice presenting and to solicit input from the course professor on expectations and examples of good strategies and organization. ‘How-to’ workshops and opportunities to interact with fellow TAs will help to build key skills for initial success in the classroom.

Refining Skills

Now that you have some classroom basics under your belt, you probably have more bandwidth to deepen your knowledge of best practices. These best practices  can lead to more interactive classrooms and more nuanced assessment of student learning through various feedback mechanisms. It may also be time to start looking at the bigger picture of how your role fits into the teaching mission of the department and think about sharing teaching practices and challenges with other instructors across campus.

Mastery and Transition

As a growing teacher, you will continue to reflect upon and refine the effectiveness of your teaching methods. You might be looking more carefully at what motivates students in your field and how you can better relate content to their interests. You might also be searching for ways to take on greater responsibility, such as developing a lab or creating your own course so that you are better prepared for future career demands. These experiences will also help you formulate a personal teaching philosophy and portfolio that will allow you to put your best foot forward in job interviews.

Remember, you can use the Grad Teaching @Stanford page to find resources tailored to each of the different stages.