Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement

A teaching philosophy statement is a brief document in which you articulate your beliefs about teaching and learning along with examples of how you enact those beliefs in the classroom. The statement is your chance to communicate with others why you care about teaching, what you hope for students to gain from taking your classes, and what taking a class with you might be like. Your statement should help others visualize you in the classroom. Creating a teaching philosophy statement allows you to reflect on your current teaching approach as well as the type of instructor you strive to be. The statement also serves as the foundation to your larger teaching portfolio. 

The first step in writing a strong teaching philosophy statement is reflecting on your own teaching. Even if you haven’t written it down, you already have a philosophy about teaching. Let’s uncover that! 

Getting Started: Reflecting on Your Teaching

The key components of a teaching philosophy statement are beliefs, strategies, impact, and future goals.  

Beliefs – What do you think? 

  • What are my beliefs about teaching and learning? 
  • Why do I hold these beliefs? 
  • What are common teaching goals I have across my courses? 
  • Who or what has informed my teaching approaches? 
  • How have my beliefs been influenced by my teaching and/or scholarly literature? 

Strategies – What do you do? 

  • What teaching and learning strategies do I use?  
  • How do I typically approach each class session? 
  • What do my interactions with students look like? 
  • How do I engage students in their learning? 
  • How do these strategies align with my beliefs? (i.e., How do I enact my beliefs in practice?) 
  • Why do I use particular strategies as opposed to others? 
  • What am I most proud of? 

Impact – What is the effect on learners and self? 

  • What difference have I made for my students, and how do I know? 
  • What do my students leave my courses knowing, thinking, or being able to do? How do I know when students have achieved these course learning outcomes? 
  • How do my students to perceive my instruction and the classroom?  
  • What methods do I use to evaluate my impact? What evidence do I have? 

Future Goals – How will you improve? 

  • How will I continue developing, growing, and improving as an educator? 
  • What are my future goals and aspirations as an instructor in post-secondary education? 

Structuring Your Writing

After thinking through the components you wish to include in your statement, get started on the first of several drafts. Below are some tips for structuring your writing. 

  • Use a narrative, first-person approach. 
  • Keep your statement to a concise 1-2 pages (single spaced).  
  • Don’t make empty statements (Montell, 2003). Apply strong, active language. 
  • Do some research to determine if there are guidelines to follow either from your institution or your disciplinary field (Grundman, 2006). 
  • Include research and references from sources such as the field of education or the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). 

One approach to structuring your writing is a five-paragraph essay organized by belief or objective. 

  1. Introduction – Introduce yourself (e.g., discipline, background, teaching experience), hook the reader, and briefly introduce your beliefs 
  2. Belief 1 & Evidence (Strategies & Impact) 
  3. Belief 2 & Evidence (Strategies & Impact) 
  4. Belief 3 & Evidence (Strategies & Impact) 
  5. Conclusion – Summary and future goals 

Your introduction should lay the foundation for the rest of your statement by discussing a passion for teaching and learning, presenting an overarching goal, or telling a story. Start each body paragraph by stating one of your beliefs or objectives and consider using bold or italics to make them easier to identify for the reader who is skimming the statement. Then, describe what that belief means to you and your students and define any educational terms. Support your beliefs or objectives with evidence of strategies and impact from your practice. In your conclusion, summarize the main ideas you hoped to convey in your statement. 

This structure from Medina and Draugalis (2013) also provides a helpful guide. 

  1. Prepare an introduction. 
  2. Describe teaching beliefs. 
  3. Explain the importance of beliefs 
  4. Provide evidence based on educational theory. 
  5. Describe teaching methods. 
  6. Describe methods of learning assessment. 
  7. Provide a feedback summary. 
  8. Prepare a strong conclusion. 
  9. Provide a reference list. 

Revise Continuously

Your first teaching philosophy statement, like all good pieces of writing, should go through several revisions. After you complete your first statement, be sure to revisit as your teaching and philosophy change over time. We also encourage you to ask for feedback from peers, both in and out of your field. Feel free to schedule a consultation with a Teaching and Learning Specialist at the Center for Teaching, Research & Learning if you would like to discuss writing and revising your teaching philosophy statement. 

References

Grundman, H. G. (2006). Writing a teaching philosophy statement. Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement, 53(11). Retrieved from http://www.ams.org/notices/200611/comm-grundman.pdf 

Medina, M. S. & Draugalis, J. R. (2013). Writing a teaching philosophy: An evidence-based approach. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 70(3), 191-193. https://doi.org/10.2146/ajhp120418 

Montell, G. (2003, March 27). How to write a statement of teaching philosophy. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-to-Write-a-Statement-of/45133/