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Teaching Statements

Preparing Teaching Materials

Many institutions will ask you to send them a teaching statement, sometimes called a “statement of teaching philosophy.” They may also ask you to send “evidence of teaching excellence.” You may be asked to send materials like these as part of your initial application, or an institution may request these as your application moves forward. It can sometimes be difficult to sort out exactly what search committees are looking for. Below are a few tips for preparing your materials and deciding what to submit.

Writing a Teaching Statement

The statement should demonstrate your commitment to teaching by providing an overview of your principles and values as they are put into action in the classroom. Be sure to illustrate how you intend to achieve your teaching goals, and discuss specific strategies and techniques you’ve found successful. These statements should be concise and avoid grandiose or abstract language; they are typically just one or two pages. Your statement should address what you do (and aspire to do) in the classroom. For example:

  • How do you engage students in the subject matter?
  • How do you work with students with various levels of prior knowledge and different learning styles?
  • What knowledge, skills, and perspectives do you hope students take away from your course?

Though your teaching statement does not necessarily need to be tailored to each institution, you may find that there are different examples you may want to include or different courses you’d like to highlight as you apply to different types of institutions.

Assembling a Teaching Portfolio

What is “evidence of teaching excellence?” Often, the most effective way to provide this for search committees is to be sure that one of your recommenders has seen you teach and can address this in his or her letter. This direct testimony can provide some of the strongest evidence for your teaching skills.

In addition to your teaching statement, syllabi from courses you’ve taught, sample student activities, and student evaluations can also be used to demonstrate teaching excellence. These materials make up what is called your “teaching portfolio.” These are materials that you probably will not send to a search committee unless specifically asked. Keep in mind that search committees already have a lot to read. If, however, a search committee asks for “evidence of teaching excellence” without specifying what they would like to see, you might pick one or two items from this category and send them along with the rest of your dossier.

Additional Resources

Sample Teaching Statements

Articles

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