Getting Started on Your Teaching Philosophy Statement

Applying to faculty positions can be tough. It seems like there are a ton of statements to write and a whole mess of documents to submit with each job posting. As graduate students, we are sometimes not even aware of many of the components that will be required in a job application portfolio until we are in our final semesters and have other (bigger) fish to fry. But it’s never too soon to get a head start on these materials. They may seem daunting at first, but no worries–the GWC has got you covered!

Because universities rarely provide classroom training for new hires, a Teaching Statement or Teaching Philosophy is often required during the application process and gives you an outlet to demonstrate your capabilities as an effective educator in your field. It might be tough to get started, but once you nail down exactly how to frame your relevant background and diverse experiences to support your philosophy, things become much easier. We have compiled a shortlist of some awesome Teaching Statement resources that can really help streamline the writing process. Here are some of our favorites:

What is a Teaching Statement? (Cornell University) – This page gives a general overview of what a teaching statement is and what you should include. It also gives details about the generally-accepted format and page length requirements (spoiler alert–usually about 2 pages!). It also helps you comb through your own experiences to find inspiration for what to write and even has some links to other helpful articles!

Getting Started on Your Teaching Statement (University of Minnesota) – This well-organized resource is split up into helpful tabs to help you navigate the writing process from brainstorming a first draft to reviewing and polishing a final product. It provides facilitative questions to get you thinking about your teaching style as well as concrete example sentences that help things click! There are even rubrics to help you cross-check your drafts (though it’s always best to get an outside pair of eyes, too!).

Sample Teaching Statements by Discipline (University of Michigan) – Here UMich has created an incredible database of sample Teaching Philosophy Statements by graduate students and faculty and they’ve even organized it by field (e.g., social sciences, humanities, engineering, etc.). They even have examples from some niche sub-disciplines. Obviously everyone’s statements are going to be different because no one person teaches in exactly the same way even in the same field. That said, referencing the statements of others in your discipline an help you get a sense of appropriate formatting and unspoken rules for applying within certain spheres of academia.

Guide to Writing a Teaching Statement (Vanderbilt University) – Another general guidelines page, but nonetheless one of the best. It’s concise and provides bullet point tips to push you along in the drafting stage. Because it’s delivered in such an easily digestible format, we think it’s a stellar addition to any resource toolbox for Teaching Statement writing.

And remember–if you’re working on any statements for job applications (teaching or otherwise), you can make an appointment to work one-on-one with a graduate writing tutor via our WCOnline platform. We offer help no matter what stage of the writing process you’re infrom brainstorming ideas and first drafts to finalizing format and other finishing touches!