I'm applying for a TT job at Smith College and wondered how to go about this. All the information on job applications to SLACs say to make teaching an important part of the cover letter but just how important? Articles online seem to disagree whether teaching should go before research or not, with both sides saying if you do the other thing that the application will just be rejected off the bat! What is the general opinion of people here for a place like Smith?
Smith and similar colleges place a very high value on teaching as they suggest. They also have very accomplished and eager students who will keep you busy. They also hire people with the "best" credentials and with enough research experience and interest to get students involved early on in their own (often academic) careers.
So, the job is primarily teaching great students who will be interested in deep ideas.
Talk about teaching experience, but also about how you can bring your research into teaching.
I was once a visitor at a similar place and the teaching load was one course per term, about 40 students. I seldom worked so hard to keep them busy and interested. Mostly just advanced undergraduate material, but highly demanding students.
And, to be successful, you will need to keep up with your research and your circle of collaborators.
In an interview people will want to talk about your research and how it can be amenable to undergraduate students.