Teaching Statements

What is a teaching statement?

A teaching statement is typically a short analytical essay that describes an instructor's beliefs about teaching and learning, connects those beliefs to concrete teaching practices, and grounds those beliefs and practices in pedagogical literature. A well-crafted teaching statement will indicate to the reader which values, theories, and approaches to teaching shape what an instructor does in the classroom and why. Teaching statements are often a required document in academic hiring and promotion materials. According to Alexander et al. (2012),  

Typically, a teaching philosophy statement is a clear, concise account of the author’s approaches to teaching, providing a sense of who the person is as a teacher and what s/he values. The statement discusses courses taught (typically in a narrative, reflective format rather than in the bullet-item style in the curriculum vitae), methods and/or approaches used in the classroom, and assessment practices integrated into teaching. A teaching philosophy statement typically does a bit of work in anchoring the author to a particular field and that field’s practices, beliefs, and values. Teaching philosophy statements are not formal research documents per se, but they typically do include nods and shout-outs (often in parentheticals) to key theorists, researchers, and other teachers who have shaped the author’s teacherly beliefs and values (p. 24).

What do teaching statements have to do with ETE? 

The mission of ETE is help USU develop a culture of teaching excellence. We firmly believe that creating and revising an evidence-based teaching statement is an integral part of developing and maintaining that culture. For this reason, anyone seeking a Teaching Scholar Certificate through ETE is required to complete the Teaching Statement badge. This requires instructors to demonstate how they have engaged in and reflected upon the scholarship of teaching and learning. We have faculty and staff who can you brainstorm, draft, peer review, and revise your teaching statement. 

Why should I write teaching statement? 

There can be many benefits to crafting a teaching philosophy, including*: 

  • Getting a job or advancing at an existing job;
  • Developing a sense of who you are as an instructor;
  • Communicating what you're trying to accomplish in your teaching;
  • Documenting effective teaching and changes in teaching;
  • Reflecting upon why you teach the way you do and how you came to that understanding of teaching;
  • Determining a good "fit" between instructors and departments or programs.

*Some of these items are adapted from Barnes's (2007) description of the benefits of a teaching portfolio. 

What should I include in my teaching statement?

While teaching statements may vary in length and content according to the context (i.e., specific field or application requirements), your teaching statement should address these key questions: 

  • What are your beliefs and values about effective teaching and learning? 
  • What practices in your teaching (or in your future teaching) reflect those values and beliefs? 
  • What are the most important impacts you expect your teaching to have on student learning? 
  • How do you know (or how will you know) whether your teaching practices are creating those desired outcomes in student learning? 
In the questions above, we've included prompts that might guide your thinking even if you don't have much or any experience actually teaching. Teaching statements often grow and shift with teaching experience, but that doesn't mean if you don't have experience yet you can't write a strong teaching statement. Having a well-developed teaching statement can show your reader that you have thought critically about your future or potential teaching and that you have a plan for what to do once you actually enter a teaching role. 

Where can I find more information about teaching statements? 

One of the best ways to learn more about teaching statements is by reading through examples written by people in your field. Often searching a search engine with the terms "teaching philosophy + name of your field (e.g. biology)" can get you started with a number of examples from instructors in your field. You might ask colleagues to share their teaching statements with you. As you start to think more specifically about how to format your teaching statement and what content to include, these resources might also help: 


Travis Thurston Teaching Students

Still have questions? 

If you have questions or concerns about writing or revising your teaching philosophy, contact us: empowerteaching@usu.edu