Writing a Teaching Statement

Many jobs will require a "teaching statement" or "teaching philosophy". But what does that really mean?

A teaching statement is a short (1-2 page) document describing your teaching values, strategies, goals, methods of assessment, and experiences. It is meant to paint a picture of you as a teacher for your employer. Here are several questions to address in your teaching statement:

  • Why do you teach? Why is teaching important to you?
  • What values and principles do you apply to your teaching?
  • What specific methods and activities do you employ in your classroom?
  • How do students in your classroom learn the material? What is their learning experience?
  • What goals do you have (in general) for your students?
  • How do you evaluate your students? How do you know they've met your goals?
  • How do you approach diversity issues (diversity in economic background, culture, learning styles, etc.)

Do:

  • be clear and concise
  • use concrete examples from your classroom
  • demonstrate that your classroom focuses on active (student-centered) teaching
  • use signaling phrases ("diversity", "assessment", "learning goals", etc.)

Don't:

  • use cliches
  • tell (rather than show) that you are passionate about teaching
  • talk about your research experience

Frequently Asked Questions:

What if I'm a graduate student with limited teaching experience (or little control over my teaching methods)?

Talk about your experiences, however limited. Mention experiences with one-on-one mentorship (maybe during office hours). Have you tutored in your field? That counts as teaching! What about informal education, such as outreach? If there was ever a time when you employed a teaching strategy and saw that it was successful, mention it.

I don't know anything about educational research in my field. Is that a problem?

You do not need to be an expert in educational research to apply for a teaching job. But it might be a good idea to ask a mentor for one or two articles about teaching in your field so that you can show that you are aware of the latest teaching methods (especially in an interview at a later stage). There is no need to use education research "jargon" in your teaching statement.

Resources:

University of Michigan Center for Teaching and Learning: includes many resources (including example statements!) for writing a teaching statement.

Rubric for writing a successful teaching statement

Sample teaching statements: