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I am a PhD student in economics. Before starting the PhD, I graduated with an MA in engineering. During my MA, I worked as a high school teacher in computer science. Should I list this activity on my CV in the ``teaching activities'' section together with my TA jobs, mainly as a signal of ability in lesson planning, classroom management etc., or should I omit it as it was (1) in a different field and (2) in high school?

Some context that may be useful as it varies between countries: I was in charge of the full course, not a lab assistant or similar. I was in a state school, and in my country state schools are more prestigious than private ones. The particular school I taught was not particularly prestigious nor disreputable and any person I meet would be unlikely to have attended it.

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    It's hard to think of any job where a proven ability to convey information to other people would be considered detrimental. And I suspect that you received at least some training in how to teach the school classes, which is more than most TAs (and professors) have. Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 21:39
  • On your academic CV, list your previous academic employment. That includes teaching.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 1:11
  • @RayButterworth One such job would be university professor, at least in the sciences. A proven ability to convey information, at least to undergraduate students, is often taken as a sign that you care too much about teaching and are not spending an appropriate amount of effort on your own research.
    – Kirt
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 18:28

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For context, I am a member of the mathematics faculty at a small community college in the southwestern US. My job is mostly teaching, with a fair slice of committee / service work, and vanishingly little time for research. This is in line with most of the faculty here—we teach. I will also note that I have high school teaching experience, and it was one of the things which helped me to get this position.

If I were on a search committee and had two otherwise identical candidates—one with high school teaching experience, and the other with experience as a TA while in graduate school—I would probably lean towards the candidate who had taught high school. At the very least, I would ask the TA more deeply about their teaching experience.

My experience is that most TAs don't really get a lot of real teaching experience. TAs are generally used for labor: they deliver lectures (typically written by others), facilitate recitation (e.g. going over homework problems or proctoring quizzes, which doesn't say much about the facilitators teaching ability), and they grade (a lot). TAs typically do not get a lot of leeway to write their own lectures, let alone curricula for entire classes. High school teachers, on the other hand, typically have a much freer hand, and are much more responsible for all aspects of running a class.

As such, my sense is as follows: if you are looking for a teaching position, you absolutely should include your experience teaching high school—I can't imagine it hurting you, and it might help.

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  • What is "facilitating recitation"? Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 22:00
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    @AzorAhai-him- At a lot of institutions, students will meet in large lecture classes (100–300+) for three hours per week, and then will meet in smaller groups (20–25) for another hour or two of "recitation" every week. The actual structure of the recitations will vary a lot from institution to institution, and may vary quite a bit from one instructor to another. However, in my experience, it is typically used to either go over homework problems, to proctor quizzes, or to work through specific examples (chosen by the primary instructor). These are study sessions. Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 22:03
  • Ah yes, I have heard them called "quiz sections" and something else that's escaping me. I figured that's what it meant, but wanted to clarify if it meant something special at your institution. Sounds very British for California, though. Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 23:48
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I suggest that it is fine to include it; especially if any job you seek includes teaching undergraduates.

The contraindications would be if it seems like padding a sparse CV or makes the CV overly long.

Teaching effectively implies more than subject matter expertise and much of it transfers between fields.

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As an addendum to Xander Henderson's answer, some colleges and universities have undergraduate programs emphasized at teaching future high school teachers. In the US, for instance, many states formerly had a "state teacher's college" for which this was their entire mission. Since then, these college have morphed into more comprehensive institutions, but teacher preparation is often still a big focus.

If you are applying to a job at such a school, then high school teaching experience would certainly be a plus. You'll be better able to provide instruction relevant to future teachers, perhaps with tips about how they might teach content to their own students. You may even have direct experience with the curriculum and instructional standards that they'll be expected to follow. And you'll be able to provide information and advice to students embarking on a teaching career.

Even where this is not a main focus, there will usually be some fraction of the undergraduate population that are interested in pursuing teaching careers, and any institution may value your experience as a resource for those students.

So yes, I would certainly include it, and in some cases you may want to give it special emphasis in your application.

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