People standing in front of books

Lesson 3: Situate your teaching context

Situate and identify your teaching roles and responsibilities

Now that you’ve determined the purpose of your dossier and the intended audience, and drafted your teaching philosophy statement, it's time to situate your teaching context –  the subjects and courses, where you teach (institution and location), and how you teach (strategies and approaches).

In this component, introduce your teaching roles, experience, and what and where you have taught. Help the reader quickly grasp what you want them to know – especially if they aren’t familiar with you or your work. 

For example, give an overview that you have been teaching in higher education in the faculty of X at Institution X for five years (or whatever timeframe you select). Then tell the reader your specific roles and responsibilities (e.g. title, description and responsibilities related to teaching and learning; an overview of courses taught including course code, title, enrolment, graduate/undergraduate course, required/elective.)

This may also include undergraduate/graduate supervision, practicums, clinical teaching and educational leadership roles. Briefly reflect on your primary roles and responsibilities related to teaching and learning. For detailed descriptions refer to the Teaching Philosophies and Teaching Dossier Guide, p. 26.

Teaching strategies and approaches

Now that you have identified your teaching roles, expand on your teaching responsibilities, and include your teaching strategies and approaches – how you teach. Include a summary of sample course materials (e.g. assignment descriptions for essays, lab workbooks and reports, fieldwork, projects, creative work, textbooks, learning objects, course websites, learning technologies, assessment and feedback strategies).

This section should make explicit how your course or project design, strategies and supporting materials reflect your philosophy.


Create a draft table of contents

The content, order, and presentation of the dossier should reflect its intended purpose, audience, and any guidelines you have. You will likely not need all sections, nor will you have evidence for all of the sections. The intent of the table in the document below is to provide you with opportunities to draft and identify the content and documents to include in your dossier.


Review sample dossier template

You may also find the Sample Dossier Template useful to begin organizing your dossier. Customize and adapt the template for your purpose, your disciplinary norms, or specific requirements, revise, rename headings, add subheadings - it is your dossier!


Start developing your dossier

Draft dossier

By now you will have a draft philosophy statement and identified your teaching roles, responsibilities, and approaches. You have started your draft dossier!

Table of contents

It’s time to create a draft table of contents or outline using the template provided.

Add content

Start adding the content and begin to think about what else you might include in your dossier – what do you have, what do you need to gather?

You’ve made a good start and have some tools to continue to develop your dossier. Lessons 4 and 5 focus on adding additional context in the dossier components and how to identify, select and exhibit evidence of teaching effectiveness.


Canadian Association of University Teachers (2018). Teaching dossier. ON: Ottawa

Kenny, N., Berenson, C., Jeffs, C., Nowell, L., & Grant, K. (2018). Teaching philosophies and teaching dossiers guide. Calgary, AB: Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Lesson checklist

  • Situate your teaching context
  • Summarize your teaching experience, identify your teaching roles, courses you have taught and in what discipline, and how you teach

More lessons

Man holding a book

Lesson 4: Identify the components of your dossier

Woman holding a book

Lesson 5: Exhibit evidence of teaching effectiveness

People standing with books and a plant

Lesson 6: Review and summarize