Writing a Teaching Statement
If you have already written your teaching statement, view this helpful guide to self-assessing the strength of your Teaching Statement.
A teaching 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. Imagine it as a window into your classroom: by reading your teaching statement, the reader should be able to picture you teaching, including how you set up the course and interact with both students and content. To do this, clear examples of specific teaching practices you employ in your classroom should be integrated throughout the statement and to back up any claims you make about your own teaching or beliefs.
Creating a teaching 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 of your larger teaching portfolio. The first step in writing a strong teaching 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 statement are beliefs and goals, strategies, impact, and future goals. The following questions are meant to get you thinking about what you might want to include in your teaching statement. You might answer some of these questions explicitly when writing your statement, or you might just use them to brainstorm.
Beliefs and Goals – What do you think?
- What are my beliefs about teaching and learning?
- Why do I hold these beliefs? How have my beliefs been influenced by my teaching and/or the scholarly literature?
- How do these beliefs account for the varying identities and experiences of students?
- What are common teaching goals I have across my courses?
- Who or what has informed my teaching approaches? How does my research or discipline inform my teaching practices?
- What sort of growth or change do I aim to encourage in my students when they engage in my class? What do I aim for students to ‘take with them’ when they leave my courses?
- What experiences have I had that shape how I understand and work for inclusion?
- What adjectives would I want students to use to describe me as an instructor after a course is over?
What do you do?
- What teaching and learning strategies do I use?
- How do these strategies align with my beliefs? How do I enact my beliefs in practice?
- How do I typically approach each class session?
- What do my interactions with students look like?
- How do I select strategies which are effective for students across a variety of experiences and identities?
- How do I incorporate diverse perspectives into my classroom materials and methodologies?
- What methods do I use when managing classroom and interpersonal interactions on topics related to diversity and inequities?
- How do I engage students in equitable learning experiences?
- Why do I use particular strategies as opposed to others?
- What aspect of my teaching am I most proud of?
- How do I promote accessibility, equity, and inclusion in my courses?
Some frameworks for selecting teaching strategies that you might consider include Trauma-Informed Pedagogy, Universal Design for Learning, and Backwards Design.
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 the course learning outcomes?
- How do I know that my chosen strategies are effective across for a variety of student experiences, identities, and needs?
- How have my approaches towards diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice affected student’s learning experience and how do I know?
- What evidence (I.e., end-of-course feedback, mid-semester feedback, correspondence with students, student assignments) can I provide to demonstrate that my teaching goals have been accomplished?
- How do my students perceive my instruction and the classroom?
- What methods do I use to evaluate my impact? What evidence do I have?
Read more about approaches to teaching assessment on our Teaching Portfolio guide.
Future Goals – How will you improve?
- How will I continue developing, growing, and improving as an educator?
- What steps will I take to continually improve the equity and inclusivity of my teaching?
- How do I envision my commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice will develop in the future?
- What are my future goals and aspirations related to teaching?
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).
- Integrate examples of specific teaching practices throughout.
- 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 department/program or your disciplinary field (Grundman, 2006).
- Although your teaching goals and strategies might be informed by literature, take care to limit citations from sources such as the field of education or scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). A few references may be helpful for supporting your teaching strategies, but too many will make your statement impersonal and overshadow your experiences.
- It’s important to show how you have incorporated feedback on your teaching into your teaching choices. Consider including some instances in which you have adapted and improved your teaching, based on feedback from students, or your own inclinations, and the impact of those changes on student learning.
One approach to structuring your writing is a five-paragraph essay organized by belief or objective.
- Introduction – Introduce yourself (e.g., discipline, background, teaching experience), hook the reader, and briefly introduce your beliefs
- Belief 1 & Evidence (Strategies & Impact)
- Belief 2 & Evidence (Strategies & Impact)
- Belief 3 & Evidence (Strategies & Impact)
- 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 and describe your future goals.
This structure from Medina and Draugalis (2013) also provides a helpful guide if you prefer to structure your statement in a way that goes through beliefs, strategies, impact, and future goals one by one.
- Prepare an introduction.
- Discuss teaching beliefs.
- Explain the importance of beliefs
- Provide evidence based on educational theory.
- Outline teaching methods.
- Describe methods of learning assessment.
- Create a feedback summary.
- Write a strong conclusion.
- Generate a reference list.
Your first teaching statement, like all good pieces of writing, should go through several revisions. Be sure to revisit as your teaching statement regularly, as practices 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 & Learning Specialist at the Center for Teaching, Research & Learning if you would like to discuss writing and revising your teaching statement.
References and Resources
- Bart, M. (2011). How to Write a Teaching Statement that Sings. Center for Excellence in Teaching, University of Southern California. Retrieved from https://dornsife.usc.edu/assets/sites/1244/docs/How_to_Write_a_Teaching_Statement_that_Sings.pdf
- 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/