Frequently Asked Questions about the TDP

These FAQs about the new Teaching Development Program will be updated as we receive additional questions. If you have an inquiry that is not addressed here or in the TDP program outline, please email CTLgrads@columbia.edu. change

Frequently Asked Questions about the TDP

Basics of TDP program participation

Who can participate in the TDP?

Is the TDP a certificate program?

How much time will this program take?

Do I have to declare which track I want to be on when I join the program?

How do TDP participants document their work?

Why do you require written reflections?

What is an annotation?

How will people on the Advanced Track build a digital teaching portfolio?

Will I have access to my digital teaching portfolio after I leave Columbia?

What counts for TDP deliverables

Will the workshops I attended in the past count?

I attended a Teaching Orientation at the CTL. Does this count toward a the TDP requirement?

I consider myself an experienced teacher (or I went to other CTL programming covering similar ground) and I think that the Essentials of Learning requirement would be redundant for me. Is there an alternative to attending these workshops?

Will an institute or seminar (‘intensive’) I took in the past count?

Does attending an intensive above the required intensive count for workshop attendance?

Do all CTL events count for the workshop point requirement?

I went to a CTL event or sponsored conference. Does that count for workshop attendance?

Do CTL fellowship meetings count as attending workshops?

How many graduate student-led CTL programs count for the TDP?

I led an LTF workshop or a CTLgrads Learning Community. Would that count?

Meeting program element requirements

I didn’t attend Essentials of Teaching workshops. How would I meet that requirement?

Which faculty members can I observe for that Advanced Track requirement?

I’m not teaching at Columbia before graduating, and therefore cannot be observed teaching a class. How would I fulfill this requirement for the Advanced Track?

Changing TDP tracks

Which track am I on in the TDP?

How do I get onto the Advanced Track of the TDP?

Why am I being asked to identify a topic of interest for the Advanced Track?

Can I work on Advanced Track completion before formally switching tracks?

I’m currently on the Advanced Track, but it looks like I’ll only be able to complete the Foundational Track before graduating. Can I switch back?

Completing TDP tracks

I’ve completed all requirements for the Foundational Track and wish to exit the program with certification. How do I do that?

I’ve completed all requirements for the Foundational Track and wish move on to the Advanced Track. How do I notify you?

I’ve completed all requirements for the Advanced Track and wish to exit the program with certification. How do I do that?

It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to complete either track before graduating. How do I remove myself from the TDP?


Basics of TDP program participation

Who can participate in the TDP?

The TDP program is available to currently enrolled Columbia University doctoral students, who sign up with their UNIs at http://bit.ly/tdpsignup.

Currently enrolled Teachers College doctoral students may register and participate, but due to resource constrictions we must limit TC student participation to the Foundational Track.

Is the TDP a certificate program?

Due to New York State laws, completers of a TDP track do not not earn a formal certificate (as do participants in comparable programs at other universities). However, track completion earns a letter outlining track competencies and certifying completion from the Center for Teaching and Learning. Completion will also be noted on Columbia University transcripts for doctoral students in Arts and Sciences and SEAS departments.

How much time will this program take?

Requirements for the Foundational Track could technically be fulfilled within a semester, with some pre-planning. Requirements for the Advanced Track could be fulfilled within two years (but see information about getting credit for your past activity below).

See breakdown of estimated time on TDP program elements

Do I have to declare which track I want to be on when I join the program?

No. TDF participants can join the program and then decide whether to exit at the Foundational level or keep working to accomplish Advanced Track requirements.

All TDP registrants by default begin on the Foundational Track level, and they may request to shift to the Advanced Track after completing a base level of work. See more information about switching to the Advanced Track.

Due to resource constrictions, participation of Teachers’ College doctoral students is limited to the Foundational Track.

How do TDP participants document their work?

CTL is running a TDP Canvas site where participants post all required elements of the track they are completing (such as reflections on attended workshops and/or events, reflections on being observed teaching, evidence of work in seminars and/or institutes, teaching statements, etc).

Why do you require written reflections?

To receive credit for attending workshops and participating in observations, TDP participants are required to post succinct reflections in the Canvas site, guided by module instructions. Additionally, as part of the Pedagogical Training module on the Foundational Track, you will upload two teaching-related documents--a Policy Sheet and First Day Plan--with annotations to indicate the context for which they are planned. These reflections and annotations serve to solidify the insights you’ve obtained in the session in a timely manner. As you move through the program these reflections will grow into a small archive of your engagement with teaching development that can then be referenced as you plan instruction and approach the job market. These reflections are also a way that CTL can track your engagements in our programs, and better understand how our offerings are and are not helping you to meet the core objectives of the Foundational and/or Advanced track.

For more information on what reflection is, why the TDP requires it, and what we expect from your reflections, please see Reflection Guidelines.

What is an annotation?

Annotations are brief, reflective pieces of writing that contextualize your documents. Annotations of materials like first day plans and policy sheets define the size and nature of the class it you plan to teach, explain why you chose a particular approach, provide evidence that your approach was (or is likely to be) effective, and detail what you learned by taking this approach.

How will people on the Advanced Track build a digital teaching portfolio?

Participants on the Advanced Track build a full portfolio of their teaching development on a platform developed by the CTL or an equivalent platform, incorporating selected pieces of their work exported from the TDP Canvas site.

The CTL-designed digital platform is hosted for free at Columbia, and may be activated at any time for TDP participants on the Advanced Track. CTL digital portfolios can be made public or password-protected, depending on the preference of the portfolio-builder. See more information about the portfolio platform in the TDP Canvas site.

On the TDP Track Transition form used to switch to the Advanced Track, you can indicate your desire to set up an e-portfolio (see information about switching to the Advanced Track). CTL will review this request and send you necessary documentation to get started.  Alternately, you can email CTLgrads@columbia.edu or drop by our office hours Fridays 2-4pm in 212 Butler Library (during the academic year) to initiate this process.  

Will I have access to my digital teaching portfolio after I leave Columbia?

TDP digital teaching portfolios are built on a templeted WordPress platform. This allows for individual customization as well as exporting to WordPress hosts beyond Columbia. At the same time, as Columbia alum you can also continue to update your Columbia-hosted portfolio after you graduate. As part of the Advanced Track exit interview, CTL will provide guidance for transferring and updating your portfolio after you graduate.

What counts for TDP deliverables

Will the workshops I attended in the past count?

CTL workshops attended from Fall 2015 on are eligible, but a full reflection (around 300 - 500 words) on a workshop is necessary for it to count towards TDP requirements. For these reflections, we encourage you to update any documentation you may already have completed in CTL programs.

A full reflection considers specific takeaways from the workshop and possible applications to your teaching.  It provides thoughtful answers to questions such as: What did you learn or experience during this session that was unexpected or surprising? What will you change or add to your approach to teaching? What impact will this new knowledge/process have on your students' learning?

For more information on what reflection is and what we expect from your reflections, check out the Reflection Guidelines.

I attended a Teaching Orientation at the CTL. Does this count toward a the TDP requirement?

In lieu of submitting a reflection about the Orientation session you attended, you can upload a copy of a Policy Sheet and First Day Plan, each with annotations, to the “Preparing to Teach” section in Foundational Track requirements. Annotations are brief, reflective pieces of writing that contextualize your documents. Annotations of materials like first day plans and policy sheets define the size and nature of the class it you plan to teach, explain why you chose a particular approach, provide evidence that your approach was (or is likely to be) effective, and detail what you learned by taking this approach.

I consider myself an experienced teacher (or I went to other CTL programming covering similar ground) and I think that the Essentials of Learning requirement would be redundant for me. Is there an alternative to attending these workshops?

The Essentials of Teaching and Learning sequence covers foundational approaches in inclusive teaching practices, defined learning objectives, assessments linked to those objectives, and active learning techniques. While we recommend these workshops for instructors at any level of experience, TDP participants may request to submit an original syllabus reflecting competency in the application of the Essentials workshop topic to a course, accompanied by explanatory reflection. Details are here.

To request this substitute, contact the CTL at CTLgrads@columbia.edu. If a substitute is granted, CTL will subsequently review the submitted syllabus and accompanying reflection to confirm that they satisfy the "Essentials" requirement.

Will an institute or seminar (‘intensive’) I took in the past count?

Yes, but you need to point us to your completed work in that program.

Work in pre-2018 institutes and seminars that was posted on the now-defunct Wikispaces platform has been archived by CTL. Contact us at CTLgrads@columbia.edu if you need to retrieve this older work. Please note that Representing Your Teaching Summer Intensive (RYTSI) sessions do not count toward the intensive requirement.

Does attending an intensive above the required intensive count for workshop attendance?

Yes, you may credit up to three workshops for each additional intensive seminar completed. Link to completed work in each program.

If you attended an intensive but did not complete it, you can receive credit for up to two sessions you went to with full reflection on each session.

Do all CTL events count for the workshop point requirement?

No, this requirement is limited to pedagogy workshops that introduce participants to new ideas, research findings, or methods in and around teaching and application to their own practice. Programs aimed at generating job market materials (teaching statements, diversity statements, portfolio building) are highly recommended for Advanced Track completers but do not count towards pedagogy workshop attendance. Similarly, TDP info sessions or CTL events focused on career pathways are highly recommended, but do not count towards the pedagogy workshop requirement.

I went to a CTL event or sponsored conference. Does that count for workshop attendance?

Events like the Inclusive Teaching Forum, the Celebration of Teaching and Learning Symposium, and the Teaching Transformations graduate student conference count as pedagogical workshop attendance for the TDP, as long as they’re accompanied with a full reflection.

Do CTL fellowship meetings count as attending workshops?

No, fellows meetings in the Lead Teaching Fellows and Teaching Observation Fellows program (such as kickoffs, pod meetings, end-of-semester gatherings) do not count for the TDP workshop quota, which is focused on pedagogical development.

How many graduate student-led CTL programs count for the TDP?

I led an LTF workshop or a CTLgrads Learning Community. Would that count?

Yes, leading these sessions counts toward the workshop attendance requirement. Include your reflection about the event in the TDP for workshop credit. Graduate student-led credits are allotted as outlined in the previous FAQ.

Meeting program element requirements

I didn’t attend Essentials of Teaching workshops. How would I meet that requirement?

We run Essentials workshops every semester. Alternatively, you can submit a syllabus built around learning goals in lieu of attendance and reflection, showing aptitude in topics covered during the Essentials sequence.  See more information here.

Which faculty members can I observe for that Advanced Track requirement?

Any instructor currently teaching at Columbia or Barnard can be observed, after they grant you permission ahead of time. You cannot observe a class you are enrolled in. Instead, we encourage you to explore and observe an instructor you’d don’t know, and one in a different field or discipline. This reflection will remain confidential; CTL will not share it with the observed faculty or with others in the TDP program.

In the TDP Canvas site you will find language to send to an instructor ahead of time, seeking permission to observe, as well as a template for your faculty observation reflection. We also encourage you to come to workshops we periodically offer at CTL on how to conduct an effective teaching observation.

I’m not teaching at Columbia before graduating, and therefore cannot be observed teaching a class. How would I fulfill this requirement for the Advanced Track?

You will need to creatively set up an observable event to showcase your teaching in your discipline for at least 50 minutes. LTF events do not count for this. Arrange to be a guest instructor for a class at Columbia. If you are leading a different kind of instructional event at Columbia, check with CTL to see if it qualifies for the observation requirement.

If you are teaching at a different institution, it is possible that you could gather footage of your teaching that could be used for an observation. Footage of you teaching taken before your engagement in TDP-related programs would not qualify. Contact CTL at ctlgrads@columbia.edu to see what steps would be necessary for an observation to count.

Changing TDP tracks

Which track am I on in the TDP?

By default, new registrants for the TDP join on the Foundational Track. They can then complete the Foundational Track or opt to switch to the Advanced Track (see below for information on track switching).

How do I get onto the Advanced Track of the TDP?

You may switch from the Foundational to the Advanced Track of the TDP after completing the Preparing to Teach and Essentials requirements in this program. See information about these requirements.

To switch tracks, fill out this quick TDP Track Transition form. In this form, you will be asked to identify a topic of interest to focus on as you proceed through the Advanced Track (see next FAQ for more information).  Once this form is submitted, CTL will then review and confirm via email that you are on the Advanced Track.  

Why am I being asked to identify a topic of interest for the Advanced Track?

A important goal for the Advanced Track of the TDP is the cultivation of inquiry-based pedagogical development. To help you pursue this goal, beginning in May 2019, we ask you to indicate a particular topic of interest to focus on when you formally switch onto the Advanced Track. As you complete the track, we invite you to continually reflect on this topic while engaging in future TDP activities. We will discussing your thoughts about this topic during the Advanced Track exit interview.

Can I work on Advanced Track completion before formally switching tracks?

Yes, even if you are not ready to formally switch from the Foundational to the Advanced track, you can still attend programming and post reflections that will count for Advanced Track completion.

This means that you can attend and reflect on advanced workshops, seminars, and institutes even if you haven’t yet completed the Essentials of Teaching and Learning workshop sequence. When you formally transition to Advanced Track (see previous FAQ), you’ll be that much closer to Advanced Track completion.

I’m currently on the Advanced Track, but it looks like I’ll only be able to complete the Foundational Track before graduating. Can I switch back?

Yes, just fill out the TDP Track Transition form and request to switch back down to the Foundational Track.

Completing TDP tracks

I’ve completed all requirements for the Foundational Track and wish to exit the program with certification. How do I do that?

Congratulations! Please double check that you’ve completed all requirements and alert CTL by filling out the TDP Track Exit form. CTL will review your TDP work and confirm your completion.

In order for TDP track completion to be noted on Arts & Sciences or SEAS transcripts in a timely manner, please complete all requirements for the Fall term and submit this form by January 15th and for the Spring term by June 1st.

I’ve completed all requirements for the Foundational Track and wish move on to the Advanced Track. How do I notify you?

Please alert CTL that you’re ready to move onto the Advanced Track by filling out the TDP Track Transition form.

I’ve completed all requirements for the Advanced Track and wish to exit the program with certification. How do I do that?

Congratulations! Please double check that you’ve completed all requirements and alert CTL by filling out the TDP Track Completion form. CTL will review your TDP work and, assuming all Advanced Track requirements have been satisfied, reach out to you to schedule an hour-long exit conversation. This conversation will include discussion of your posted narrative reflection on your experience in the program and your digital teaching portfolio.

In order for TDP track completion to be noted on Arts & Sciences or SEAS transcripts in a timely manner, please complete all requirements for the Fall term and submit this form by January 15th and for the Spring term by June 1st.

It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to complete either track before graduating. How do I remove myself from the TDP?

We understand that plans can change. Even if you’ve determined that you won’t be completing a TDP track we hope you benefited from the work you did in the program anyway. If you are not planning on completing a TDP track, please unregister from the program on the TDP Track Transition form.

Rev. 9/11/2019