What is a Teaching Statement?

Are you interested in applying for a job in academia?  Have you looked at the requirements?  CVs, Cover Letters, Teaching Statements, Research Statements, oh my!  Sounds like a lot.  And you may not even be familiar with what each document requires or what it even is.


Like a teaching statement.  Also known as a teaching philosophy.


What is it?  Why do you need it?  How long does it need to be?  How much time should you devote to writing your teaching statement?  This article will answer all of your burning questions and help to get you started on the path to writing an amazing teaching statement that will help you stand out to job search committees.

Download the Teaching Statement Checklist!

How to write a teaching statement | What is a teaching statement | The Academic Society | for graduate students in Math and STEM


What is a teaching statement or teaching philosophy?

Both teaching statement and teaching philosophy will be used interchangeably throughout your job search process.  They mean the same thing and are the same document.


Contrary to what the actual word philosophy means, a search committee is not really looking for a paper all about your philosophy on teaching.  A teaching statement is actually just a paper about your teaching experience.  So instead of only writing about the magical and inspiring “truths” you’ve found to be the basis of contemporary instruction, you just have to tell a story about how you are in the classroom.


When I first started my application process, I Googled the term “teaching philosophy.”  I’m sure you did too.  I found a pretty good definition on this University of Minnesota website, which you probably found too.  Here’s their definition:


A teaching philosophy is a self-reflective statement of your beliefs about teaching and learning.  It should also discuss how you put your beliefs into practice by including concrete examples of what you do or anticipate doing in the classroom.  


The most important part of this definition is the second sentence.  You MUST provide concrete examples of what you do in the classroom.  It’s the only way to make your teaching statement believable.  Otherwise, it’s all just theory.  And theory is not what a search committee wants from you.


Why do you need a teaching statement?

If you are applying for a job in academia, you are most likely applying for one of the following positions on a college campus:  tenure track professorship, lecturer, post doc, or visiting professorship.


All of these positions usually come with teaching responsibilities.  The search committee needs to know that you have teaching experience and that you know how to handle yourself in the classroom.  They do not want someone who will bring the course evaluations down and make their department look bad.


The only way for you to prove to them that you have what it takes is to write about it, in detail, in your teaching statement or teaching philosophy.


How long does your teaching statement need to be?


It is recommended that your teaching statement or teaching philosophy be anywhere between 1-4 pages.  I recommend 2-3 pages.  Definitely not 1.  One page just screams that you don’t have enough experience or that you don’t care enough to write about it.


Your teaching statement can be four pages.  But only if your stories are sooooo amazing that it captivates the search committee!  Remember, they have other documents to read on top of doing their actual jobs like teaching or research.  Please be mindful of their time.


How much time should you devote to writing your teaching statement?

Well it depends on whether or not you have a plan for writing your teaching statement.  If you know what you want to say and narrowed down specific examples, you could knock your teaching statement out in 3-4 hours.  If you have no plan, and aren’t sure what to do or how to write your teaching statement, it could take a few days to get it just right.


How do you come up with a plan for writing a teaching statement or teaching philosophy?

I’m glad you asked, I’ve actually done it for you.  I’ve created an ebook that walks you through each step of writing a teaching statement or teaching philosophy.  It’s called From Blank Page to Teaching Philosophy.  In the book (there is also a workbook option), you will be given a plan for writing your document as well as what types of examples and quotes to include in your teaching statement.  By the time you finish the book (especially if you get the workbook version), you will have a completed teaching statement that’s ready to send off with the rest of your application material.


If you aren’t ready to purchase the ebook/workbook, I’m giving you a checklist to help you write your teaching statement or teaching philosophy.

Download the Teaching Statement Checklist!


I know that preparing to apply for jobs can be overwhelming and can feel like so much work!  That’s why I want to help!  The whole purpose of this blog is to help free up some time for you to focus on your research and teach your classes.


Have a wonderful day!!!