Preparing Future Faculty: Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement

Painting of hand on green background. Hand has words painted in black on it: share, create, explore, assist...If you are a graduate student intending to enter the professoriate, it is quite likely that you will be asked to submit a Philosophy of Teaching Statement as part of your application materials for any academic position that includes instruction. In the current arid environment of available jobs in the higher education academic market, the teaching statement has taken on increased scrutiny, as hundreds of applicants vie for each offered position. Although some may decry the increasing number of application requirements, you should be prepared to produce a statement that will make you a competitive candidate. Fortunately, there are a number of resources and examples to help you with this task.

First, what exactly is a Philosophy of Teaching Statement? The University Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Ohio State University describes the teaching statement as “a narrative that includes your conception of teaching and learning, description of how you teach, and justification for why you teach that way. This comprehensive how-to guide suggests a length of 1-2 pages written in the present tense that avoids technical terms and expresses your own philosophy. Examples from a range of disciplines are included, as well as an the in-depth Guidance on Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement. There are links to other Teaching and Learning Center sites with their recommendations, and a list of useful references.

One of the OSU UCAT links goes to the Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. This site offers a video interview with Susan Yager, Associate Professor in English and Faculty Director of the Iowa State University Honors Program and frequent lecturer in the Preparing Future Faculty program.  She discusses why the teaching philosophy statement is important, what the important components are, and offers strategies for getting started. Elsewhere on the ISU CELT site, a guide covers four primary questions to be answered: To what end? By what means? To what degree? And, Why?

Another perspective on the exercise comes from Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement, a Faculty Focus Special Report, Magna Publications, May, 2009. This publication “is designed to take the mystery out of writing teaching philosophy statements, and includes both examples and how-to articles written by educators from various disciplines and at various stages of their professional careers. Some of the articles you will find in the report include: • How to Write a Philosophy of Teaching and Learning Statement • A Teaching Philosophy Built on Knowledge, Critical Thinking and Curiosity • My Teaching Philosophy: A Dynamic Interaction Between Pedagogy and Personality • Writing the “Syllabus Version” of Your Philosophy of Teaching • My Philosophy of Teaching: Make Learning Fun.”

Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement might not be high on your list of exciting activities, but with these resources you’ll be able to meet the challenge well armed.

Macie Hall, Senior Instructional Designer
Center for Educational Resources

Image source: Share and Explore by Denise Carbonell