Writing Teaching Statements and Philosophies

A teaching statement is a 1-2 page single-spaced essay that explains your teaching strategies and goals in the terms of your discipline and in the context of the teaching positions you have held and seek to hold. Despite its conventional title as a “philosophy,” the statement is less of a conceptual or theoretical essay and more of a narrative about your teaching. A statement covers issues such as the intellectual and creative skills and knowledge you aim to enable your students to achieve in the discipline, how you see your role and interact with students, how you organize class time, how you address the challenges in teaching in your discipline then obtain and respond to feedback from your students. Notice that these elements do not emphasize disciplinary content, complexities, course texts, or problems. Instead, the statement foregrounds how you interact with your students to guide them to learn on one hand and, on the other, how they engage with each other and with course material.

Below are a number of McGraw Center resources to guide you in writing a meaningful and effective teaching statement.

Preparing to Write a Teaching Statement

Developing a teaching philosophy statement allows you to reflect on and articulate your beliefs and practices as a teacher. The most meaningful statements of teaching philosophy identify sophisticated goals for teaching and describe varied methods for meeting them. They consider the relationship between teaching content and teaching skills and demonstrate an understanding of student learning. At their best, they are intellectually revealing; rather than simply describe your teaching experience, they demonstrate how you think about your teaching.

Learning Issues to Consider in a Teaching Statement

Student-centered teaching takes into consideration a number of issues regarding how undergraduates learn and get practice at disciplinary ways of knowing and methods.
Read a number of questions concerning student learning that you might want to address in writing your teaching statement.