How to write a Teaching Philosophy Statement?

How to write a Teaching Philosophy Statement?

A teaching philosophy statement or letter is a written explanation of your teaching and learning thoughts, beliefs, aims, and values. It shows great evidence of how you are an excellent teacher from your teaching experience. 

The teaching philosophy statement is unique to each person because it reflects contextual factors such as personal education, teaching type and experience, discipline, societal norms, and teaching requirements, to mention a few. 

Why Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement?

In many cases, the teaching philosophy statement is a required or strongly recommended part of the tenure document, so many faculty members only make the teaching philosophy statement during the tenure submission process. This is not the only useful thing. Early in your career, going through the process of reflecting on your education can be very helpful. This will give you a better idea of your beliefs and strengths as an educator and how you can develop your teaching practice over time. For example, if you are a proponent of team-based learning, you may be looking for new approaches to group learning that will result in a better and more effective learning experience for your students. 

Another reason to write a teaching philosophy statement is that it is increasingly common to ask for such a statement as part of the application process for tenure-track positions.

How to Develop the Teaching Philosophy Statement

If you're looking for a career as an academic instructor or lecturer, you should ideally begin uttering your teaching philosophy in graduate school. The earlier you start thinking about your teaching philosophy, the more formal and easier it will be to make a statement when needed. Once you've uttered your beliefs and practices as an instructor, it's much easier to document relevant examples of your teaching purpose, strategies, techniques, and success as you move on. Don't wait until a polite statement of teaching philosophy is needed. 

General Guidelines for your Teaching Philosophy Statement

* Make your Teaching Statement brief and well-written. While Teaching Statements are probably longer at the tenure level (i.e. 3-5 pages or more), for hiring purposes they are typically 1-2 pages in length.

* Use a narrative, first-person approach. This allows the Teaching Statement to be both personal and reflective.

* Make it specific rather than abstract. Ground your ideas in 1-2 concrete examples, whether experienced or anticipated. This will help the reader to better visualize you in the classroom.

* Be discipline-specific. Do not ignore your research. Explain how you advance your field through teaching.

* Avoid jargon and technical terms, as they can be off-putting to some readers.

Try not to simply repeat what is in your CV. Teaching Statements are not exhaustive documents and should be used to complement other materials for the hiring or tenure processes.

* Be sincere and unique. Avoid clichés, especially ones about how much passion you have for teaching.

* Be humble. Mention students in an enthusiastic, not condescending way, and illustrate your willingness to learn from your students and colleagues.

* Revise. Teaching is an evolving, reflective process, and Teaching Statements can be adapted and changed as necessary.

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