Writing a Strong Teaching Statement

Published: Tues., Sept. 17, 2019

If you are planning to apply for faculty jobs, you may be asked to write a teaching statement, or teaching philosophy. Teaching statements are one- or two-page document that discusses how you teach and why. Committees reading your statement should get a sense of what you look like as an instructor.

Whether you have taught a lot or just a little, it’s important to reflect on teaching. Start by thinking about the classes you’ve taught and your subject. What is most important to you as an instructor? What are your primarily learning objectives for your students regardless of the class you teach? Do you what students to develop critical thinking skills? Or perhaps you hope they will be able to apply their knowledge to the world around them. Or perhaps your class is writing focused and one of your goals is to develop their writing skills in a particular way.

Take a few minutes to think about your teaching and write down 3-4 major goals of your teaching. This will be the basis of your teaching statement. If you have not taught much think about what values you would have when you do teach. It may help to think about what teachers you have had that you thought were particularly good or effective. What did they do in the classroom?

After you have the goals identified, start to think about specific examples and stories you can tell. You want to have specific examples you can talk about to show that you aren’t just saying these things but that you actually act on your beliefs.

  • Tell a story

    Good teaching statements are all about how you talk about your teaching. Show how and why you learned to teach in certain ways.

  • Focus on the students

    Good teaching is not just the performance of the teacher, but also how the students engage with the instructor. If you consider students' own diversity in designing your class, talk about it. How do you help the student learn? If you are applying to a more teaching-focused school, they will want to hear about your student-centered teaching practices.

  • Be specific

    Show don’t tell. Anyone can say that they value diversity or active learning, but unless you have evidence or a story to back that up, saying you value that is meaningless. Even if you haven’t taught much, you should be able to think about teaching training you’ve done or could describe things you plan to do in the future that would demonstrate that you have thought through these issues even if you haven’t been able to implement it yet.

  • Be concise

    Remember this is only supposed to be 1-2 pages long. If you go on too much people reading your statement may lose interest. Keep it on topic and relatively concise.

  • Keep jargon to a minimum

    Remember that if you are applying to a small liberal arts school or schools with smaller departments, not everyone on the panel may be from your discipline. Limit jargon so that your teaching statement is understandable to all.

  • Get feedback

    Ask you friends and faculty for feedback. You can also submit it to our office for feedback too. Submit your materials or schedule a consultation from our office here.

  • Edit and revise

    You will go through several drafts of your statement. Take the feedback you’ve gotten and incorporate that into your revisions. No one writes a perfect teaching statement on the first try. You may have multiple versions. You may also find that your statement changes over time after you have time to practice teaching.

  • Be honest

    If you do not teaching a particular way, don't say that you do. They will find out soon enough if you lied. Be honest in your teaching statement and what you genuinely do or believe. Nothing rings more hollow than someone talking about a particular teaching strategy just because you think you should, even if you have never used it.