What's in Your Secret Sauce?
Your TPS "gives you an opportunity to explain to readers the kind of teacher you are, what students in your classes can expect of you and the ways you structure your courses.You want to find a way to balance a broad ideal about teaching with detailed descriptions of how you put this ideal into practice. As someone reads your statement, they should be able to imagine what it is like to be a student in your class.
As you write your teaching philosophy statement, keep in mind that it is a personal essay. This means you should write in the first person (i.e., use “I”), use an active voice (i.e., use “I believe” rather than “It is believed”), support your claims (i.e., give specific illustrative examples), and have a clear structure." (Carelton U., 2017).
What a Teaching Philosophy is NOT
- "a utopian vision" (Ciara O'Farell, Trinity College Dublin, Slide 16)
- "an exhaustive document" (Vanderbilt U.)
- "a summary of the experiences (or accomplishments) on your CV, nor is it an article on pedagogy" (Washington U., St Louis)
- something “that you just made up” (Small Pound of Science, 2013)
- "the place to complain" or to say what others do that you don't agree with (U. of Pennsylvania)
What will your potential readers be looking for?
From The Room 241 Team (Concordia U., Portland, 2012)
They will expect to be able "to pull key insights from the statement." They will want to be able to assess whether:
- you can "handle the teaching responsibilities of the job"
- your "teaching approach [will] fit in with the department and our students"
- you "want to teach, and why?"
- you will "add to the department? What will the students gain from your classes?"
- can "handle the challenges of a classroom and teaching", and how?
Features of a successful TPS
From Chris O’Neal, Deborah Meizlish, and Matthew Kaplan. (U. of Michigan, 2007, pp.1&3)
A survey of 457 search committee chairs in six disciplines ... found broad agreement on the desirable characteristics of a statement of teaching philosophy."
- It offers "evidence of practice."
- It "conveys reflectiveness."
- It "communicates that teaching is valued."
- The teaching practices described are "student- or learning-centered, attuned to differences in student abilities, background knowledge, or levels."
- It is "well written, clear, and readable."