Applications Are Open! And What It Means to Be Part of GrATE

Now that applications for GrATE (aka Academy of GTA Excellence) have been open for a few weeks and will be open for a few weeks more, it is time to discuss a bit of the application process and what it means to be part of the Academy.

First, I will focus on the application process. I applied to GrATE as everything was being developed, though the process has been refined rather than changed over the semesters. Whether applying as a Member, and Associate, or a Fellow, a Letter of Application is asked for. Within the letter we look for why someone is applying to GrATE, how it fits within their future career goals, their views on 21st century teaching (contemporary pedagogy) and diversity/inclusion within pedagogy, and what they can bring to GrATE. As a Fellow, I read all of these letters and what stands out to me in particular are why people apply to the Academy and their views on diversity/inclusion in the classroom and higher education. Reading why people apply to GrATE has helped us develop needed sessions for the whole Academy. The CV is important too, though partly to know how long someone might be at Tech and active with GrATE.

When someone is applying to Associate or Fellow, we ask for a letter of recommendation from a faculty member or someone who is aware of one’s teaching experience. We also ask for teaching evaluations. For some people that includes SPOTs and for others peer evaluations or a different version of reviews to indicate about their teaching (e.g., guest lecture evaluations). We ask for this not to judge people on their teaching skills but to see their background in teaching experience or curriculum development.

For Fellow applicants, we also ask for a Teaching Portfolio and an interview. We hope the applicants have been involved in GrATE, whether they have been a Member or Associate, or join for events without applying before. The interviews are generally 15 minutes with current Fellows and a few Faculty Scholars, as well as Dean DePauw or other Graduate School administrators. I personally am very glad I went through the interview portion of GrATE, as it helped me immensely while I have been on the job market. The interview shouldn’t be scary, though it is important. We ask questions about the applicant, follow-up on some ideas presented in the application materials, their views on diversity and inclusion, and their views of being a leader. As we have grown and developed as an organization, we have realized that leadership skills and time management skills are important. So, we ask about those pieces as well as what was clearly asked for in the application.

Overall, people apply to GrATE at the different levels for various reasons. I see the reasons people joining GrATE falling into two categories: 1) to learn more about teaching and pedagogy and 2) to have a community of people who desire to be the best teachers they can be. I do acknowledge that some people only want the CV credit, though there is so much being left on the table if that is the case. For me, though, the greatest benefit is the community I have through GrATE. Before Jordan and I became Founding Fellows together, we were in a class together and just chatting about teaching our classes for the first time. Suggestions she gave then, I still use in my classes today. We have maintained that over the years—sharing stories of what is happening in our classes and helping come up with solutions. Now, we have a bigger community of people to share ideas with. People in our community now come from different disciplinary backgrounds who have pedagogy traditions that we would never think of but would work great. There are those with socio-political backgrounds different than our own. It allows for a broader set of ideas and so many people to get to know and work with.

With the Walk-In-Advising, every week I have multiple people to tell stories with and come up with new ideas for the classroom. For others, the panels and workshops that the Academy does is what they are looking for. Or they come to Walk-In-Advising for assistance on a particular challenge or question. Sometimes it is one event a year that sparks an interest or fills a need and for others, they come to everything and learn as much as they can. Check out our Twitter feed for more of the events we have done recently—there may be something that sparks that interest for you or an idea you have to bring to GrATE!

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