Essay On Teaching And Research Interests

Teaching Statements

What is a Teaching Statement?

A Teaching Statement is a purposeful and reflective essay about the author’s teaching beliefs and practices. It is an individual narrative that includes not only one’s beliefs about the teaching and learning process, but also concrete examples of the ways in which he or she enacts these beliefs in the classroom. At its best, a Teaching Statement gives a clear and unique portrait of the author as a teacher, avoiding generic or empty philosophical statements about teaching.

What Purposes does the Teaching Statement Serve?

The Teaching Statement can be used for personal, professional, or pedagogical purposes. While Teaching Statements are becoming an increasingly important part of the hiring and tenure processes, they are also effective exercises in helping one clearly and coherently conceptualize his or her approaches to and experiences of teaching and learning. As Nancy Van Note Chism, Professor of Education at IUPUI observes, “The act of taking time to consider one’s goals, actions, and vision provides an opportunity for development that can be personally and professionally enriching. Reviewing and revising former statements of teaching philosophy can help teachers to reflect on their growth and renew their dedication to the goals and values that they hold.”

What does a Teaching Statement Include?

A Teaching Statement can address any or all of the following:

  • Your conception of how learning occurs
  • A description of how your teaching facilitates student learning
  • A reflection of why you teach the way you do
  • The goals you have for yourself and for your students
  • How your teaching enacts your beliefs and goals
  • What, for you, constitutes evidence of student learning
  • The ways in which you create an inclusive learning environment
  • Your interests in new techniques, activities, and types of learning

“If at all possible, your statement should enable the reader to imagine you in the classroom, teaching. You want to include sufficient information for picturing not only you in the process of teaching, but also your class in the process of learning.” – Helen G. Grundman, Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement

General Guidelines

  • 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 narrative, first-person approach. This allows the Teaching Statement to be both personal and reflective.
  • Be sincere and unique. Avoid clichés, especially ones about how much passion you have for teaching.
  • 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 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.

Reflection Questions To Help You Get You Started:*

  • Why do you teach the way you do?
  • What should students expect of you as a teacher?
  • What is a method of teaching you rely on frequently? Why don’t you use a different method?
  • What do you want students to learn? How do you know your goals for students are being met?
  • What should your students be able to know or do as a result of taking your class?
  • How can your teaching facilitate student learning?
  • How do you as a teacher create an engaging or enriching learning environment?
  • What specific activities or exercises do you use to engage your students? What do you want your students to learn from these activities?
  • How has your thinking about teaching changed over time? Why?

*These questions and exercises are meant to be tools to help you begin reflecting on your beliefs and ideas as a teacher. No single Teaching Statement can contain the answers to all or most of these inquiries and activities.

Exercises to Help You Get You Started:*

  • The Teaching Portfolio, including a section on teaching statements, Duquesne University Center for Teaching Excellence. This website includes five effective exercises to help you begin the writing process
  • Teaching Goals Inventory, by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross and their bookClassroom Assessment Techniques. This “quiz” helps you to identify or create your teaching and learning goals.
  • Articulating your Philosophy of Teaching Statement, from the Center for Effective Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at El Paso. Various exercises to guide someone in thinking about, articulating, and writing a statement of teaching philosophy.

*These questions and exercises are meant to be tools to help you begin reflecting on your beliefs and ideas as a teacher. No single Teaching Statement can contain the answers to all or most of these inquiries and activities.

Evaluating Your Teaching Statement

Writing A Statement Of Teaching Philosophy For The Academic Job Search (opens as a PDF), The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan.

This report includes a useful rubric for evaluating teaching philosophy statements. The design of the rubric was informed by experience with hundreds of teaching philosophies, as well as surveys of search committees on what they considered successful and unsuccessful components of job applicants’ teaching philosophies.

Further Resources:

General Information on and Guidelines for Writing Teaching Statements

  • Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement, Faculty and TA Development at The Ohio State University. This site provides an in-depth guide to teaching statements, including the definition of and purposes for a teaching statement, general formatting suggestions, and a self-reflective guide to writing a teaching statement.
  • Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Iowa State University. This document looks at four major components of a teaching statement, which have been divided into questions—specifically, to what end? By what means? To what degree? And why? Each question is sufficiently elaborated, offering a sort of scaffolding for preparing one’s own teaching statement.
  • Writing a Meaningful Statement of Teaching Philosophy, McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton University. This website offers strategies for preparing and formatting your teaching statement.

Articles about Teaching Statements

November 2, 1998

Dr. Naomi Sellers
Chair, English Search Committee
Box 58
Baxter College
Arcadia, WV 24803

Dear Dr. Sellers:

I am writing to apply for the position as assistant professor of English with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition that you advertised in the October MLA Job Information List. I am a graduate student at Prestigious University working on a dissertation under the direction of Professor Prominent Figure. Currently revising the third of five chapters, I expect to complete all work for the Ph.D. by May of 1999. I believe that my teaching and tutoring experience combined with my course work and research background in rhetoric and composition theory make me a strong candidate for the position outlined in your notice.

As my curriculum vitae shows, I have had excellent opportunities to teach a variety of writing courses during my graduate studies, including developmental writing, first-year writing for both native speakers and second language students, advanced writing, and business writing. I have also worked as a teaching mentor for new graduate students, a position that involved instruction in methods of composition teaching, development of course materials, and evaluation of new graduate instructors. Among the most satisfying experiences for me as a teacher has been instructing students on an individual basis as a tutor in our university Writing Lab. Even as a classroom instructor, I find that I always look forward to the individual conferences that I hold with my students several times during the semester because I believe this kind of one-on-one interaction to be essential to their development as writers.

My work in the composition classroom has provided me with the inspiration as well as a kind of laboratory for my dissertation research. My project, The I Has It: Applications of Recent Models of Subjectivity in Composition Theory, examines the shift since the 1960s from expressive models of writing toward now-dominant postmodern conceptions of decentered subjectivity and self-construction through writing. I argue that these more recent theoretical models, while promising, cannot have the liberating effects that are claimed for them without a concomitant reconception of writing pedagogy and the dynamics of the writing classroom. I relate critical readings of theoretical texts to my own pedagogical experiments as a writing teacher, using narratives of classroom successes and failures as the bases for critical reflection on postmodern composition theory. After developing my dissertation into a book manuscript, I plan to continue my work in current composition theory through a critical examination of the rhetoric of technological advancement in the computer-mediated writing classroom.

My interest in the computer classroom has grown out of recent experience teaching composition in that environment. In these courses my students have used computers for writing and turning in notes and essays, communicating with one another and with me, conducting library catalogue research and web research, and creating websites. I have encouraged my students to think and write critically about their experiences with technology, both in my class and elsewhere, even as we have used technology to facilitate our work in the course. Syllabi and other materials for my writing courses can be viewed at my website: http://machine.prestigious.edu/~name. In all of my writing courses I encourage students to become critical readers, thinkers, and writers; my goal is always not only to promote their intellectual engagement with cultural texts of all kinds but also to help them become more discerning readers of and forceful writers about the world around them.

I have included my curriculum vitae and would be happy to send you additional materials such as a dossier of letters of reference, writing samples, teaching evaluations, and past and proposed course syllabi. I will be available to meet with you for an interview at either the MLA or the CCCC convention, or elsewhere at your convenience. I can be reached at my home phone number before December 19; between then and the start of the MLA convention, you can reach me at (123) 456-7890. I thank you for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely



First Lastname

Points to Remember

  • Use the form of address and title of the contact person as they appear in the job notice.
  • Refer to the job title as it appears in the notice, and state where you learned of the position.
  • Mention your major professor by name, especially if he or she is well known in your field. Also, mention your expected completion date.
  • Make a claim for your candidacy that you will support in the body of the letter.
  • For a position at a small undergraduate college, emphasize teaching experience and philosophy early in the letter.
  • Describe your dissertation and plans for future research. Emphasize links between your teaching and research interests.
  • Mention specific teaching experience that is relevant to the job notice or is otherwise noteworthy.
  • Refer to relevant materials available on the web.
  • State your willingness to forward additional materials and to meet for an interview.
  • Mention any temporary changes in contact information.

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