Getting Teaching Experience

Whether you have no, little, or lots of teaching experience, you may be interested in getting more. There are lots of formal and informal opportunities waiting for you. Here's how to find them.

Formal teaching experiences

  • How to Get All-Important Teaching Experience, by Rick Reis, suggests starting as a Teaching Assistant, and describes several ways to build and expand on that experience, including guest lecturing, team teaching, and summer teaching. This article is from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
  • Two-year colleges hire part-time instructors to teach many of their classes. Contact the two-year colleges near you and ask if they are looking for geology instructors.
    • If they are hiring, read about The Two Year College Job Search Process. Eric Baer, Professor of Geology at Highline Community College, developed this summary on what to expect at a community college interview (including examples of interview questions on a variety of topics).
    • If they aren't hiring right now, send them your job application materials anyway. When they need to hire someone, they will first look in their files to see whether they already know of someone qualified to teach the class in question.

Informal teaching experiences

Informal teaching experiences include all kinds of public outreach opportunities. These can be set up as one-time events or on-going educational programs. They can also be quite rewarding: the students learn something, you get teaching experience, and your department and university get positive publicity. Some options you might consider:
  • Contact your local Girl Scout troop or your local Boy Scout troop or your local Camp Fire USA council and volunteer to lead an Earth Science activity, perhaps helping the scouts to earn a badge.
  • Contact the teacher preparation program at your university, and ask about teachers who might be interested in having you visit their classes as a guest lecturer. Be prepared to make a specific offer, such as teaching a class about a particular topic, and know what state or national science education standards (more info) you can help students meet. Also, check out SERC's page on Assisting K-12 Teachers in Their Classrooms, with a few examples of how you might work with a K-12 teacher.
  • If there is a science museum, natural history museum, geology museum, or children's museum near you, contact them and ask about volunteering to help with activities related to Earth Science, especially during National Earth Science Week. (more info) If you don't know of nearby museums, find a science center near you.
  • Contact any national, (more info) state, or local parks in your area, and volunteer to teach a mini-course on the geology of the park for park employees. Or, for a more formal experience, apply to become a Geoscientist-in-the-Parks for the National Park Service. Volunteer and paid positions are available.
  • Contact your state geological survey and ask whether they have an adult education program. If they do, ask about volunteering to teach.

Other teaching experiences resources