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Writing a Teaching Statement

Writing a Teaching Statement

A teaching statement, sometimes called a philosophy of teaching, is a public document for students, colleagues, supervisors, prospective employees, and review committees. Teaching statements are published in teaching portfolios, course syllabi, web pages, review packets, and application materials. A teaching statement written for a course syllabus will probably differ from one written for prospective employers, and you will find that a teaching statement is a living document, developing and deepening over time as your teaching resume grows. Create a teaching portfolio to provide supporting evidence for the teaching statement.

Suggestions for developing the statement

Start by brainstorming a list or concept map of your teaching activities, including mentoring individual students (in office hours or a lab) as well as teaching in more formal settings. You won’t address everything in the statement, but you may be surprised by how much teaching you have done and how things connect. Also brainstorm a list of what you believe deeply about teaching and learning. Create a list of questions you have about teaching, and identify skills that you are proud of and other skills that you would like to improve. From these lists, pick two or three major ideas to develop in the statement.

Style and content in a teaching statement

The length of a teaching statement depends on its purpose. A statement intended for colleagues or for prospective employers might be 13 pages. A statement include d in a course syllabus will probably be shorter. Write in first person, and consider writing in shorter sentences than you might use for academic research writing. Readers will appreciate an honest, reflective style in which you discuss your evolution and aspirations as well as your successes. In a statement meant for colleagues, develop major ideas with concrete, specific examples. For example, if you are making a claim for the importance of interactive learning, briefly describe one or two of your actual assignments or class activities. Consider describing how your teaching style connects to or departs from signature pedagogies in your discipline. An internet search will yield dozens of examples of teaching statements. Search for statements in a variety of disciplines for examples of tone, style, and organization. Above all, your teaching statement should reflect your voice and style.

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