This question seems related to my question, but it does not have an answer. I hope to get an answer by asking something more specific.

I am a postdoc at a research-only institution whose only students are in doctoral programs. People are allowed to be (co-)appointed with other university and teach there, and some of them have taught, but none of my colleagues currently are to my best knowledge. I would like to have recent teaching experience (I have more legitimate teaching experience where I obtained my doctorate) and obtain a letter of recommendation regarding teaching.

To this end, I thought of holding a mock class, where I give a lecture on something that is taught in some typical undergraduate course to PhD students and senior researchers, one of whom could later write a letter to me.

My question is whether or not this way I can get teaching experience and a letter that are at least somewhat relevant in job applications to (say) American math departments. (Addendum: I'm not in the US right now.)

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    Which country are you in? This is relevant since in the US one can always find a college nearby that has a need for some undergraduate teaching for a quarter/semester. In contrast, if you are in Germany, you would not be allowed to teach independently unless you have a habilitation. Apr 14, 2023 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


Have you thought about doing something "non-mock" by setting up a course/workshop on a topic some of the PhD students would really like to know more about? As somebody reading a job application, I'd like that, whereas your "mock" idea would leave me cold.

It'll ultimately depend on how exactly the hiring committee works, what their criteria are, and what role it plays that members "like" the idea (I think there is quite some variety around regarding these issues), but I suspect that your "mock class" idea will most likely not fly as it isn't the "real thing". To what extent my proposal above works any better I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it'll be at least as good. Teaching a regular class at a nearby other university will probably still be quite a bit better.

  • My impression was that hiring committee was looking for people that can teach "boring" courses like, say, calculus, as opposed to something that I am expected to be enthusiastic about (which is also what the PhD students are likely to be enthusiastic about). I thought that it was kind of given given that people can teach well what both they and their students are genuinely interested in---but this is not the case in many undergraduate classes, of which there are lots of demands.
    – Pteromys
    Apr 14, 2023 at 14:00
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    I can ultimately not be sure and it'll depend on the committee... but taking intiative to do something genuinely useful is a positive. A mock performance can't prove that you can do it well to the students to whom it matters, when it matters. For me it is part of good teaching to do what is the best thing for the audience you have. Apr 14, 2023 at 14:11

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