- 4a. SELF CHECK
You should self check your first draft at 3 levels: for content, for structure, and for style (includes mechanics).
CONTENT (1): Checking for the WHY's, HOW's and WHAT's
Many advice websites recommend making reference external sources as a way to show that you're cognizant of scholarly writing and research about effective teaching especially as it applies in your field. Quotations and works referred to should be cited correctly at the end of the TPS.
Keep in mind that you only have 2 pages to work with so every section should add something new. Although some websites recommend a version of the old 'tell them what you're going to say, say it, and them tell them what you've said' as a TPS structure, this results in a lot of repetition. You just don't have the space for that. (The following is adapted from Carleton U.)
- The thesis statement, or your 'WHY', "is the crux of your philosophy: it is a broad statement that forms the framework for and on which you elaborate in the rest of the document." You can lead off with this or end the opening paragraph with is as a way to transition to the body which will demonstrate how you express this through various aspects of your teaching
- You can define, describe, or use a statement of importance, an illustrative anecdote, a metaphor, or inspiring quotation.
- For more details and practise exercised in crafting an Introduction, please refer to Claremont's TSP Workbook, pp.16-18.
- Body: "This part of the philosophy statement gives readers a chance to imagine what it is like to be taught by you. Think of this section of the statement as an explanation (with specific examples) of how you put your beliefs about teaching and learning into practice as you engage in various tasks as a teacher."
- "You can use this space to show how your approach to some of the following practices reflect your philosophy: course design, interactions with students, classroom teaching, work with TAs, undergraduate and graduate student advising, office hours policies, classroom policies, providing or asking for feedback, or designing assignments." Highlight 2 or 3 "as a way of allowing readers to imagine what you are like as a teacher."
- Break out "two or three descriptions of you as a teacher. ... Explain to your reader how you practice each of these smaller pieces." Include how your work blends not only pedagogical but also professional (i.e. related to your discipline) best practices and priorities.
- Avoid repeating any device used in the introduction.
- Avoid summarizing. In such a short piece, you don't have to worry about your readers losing track of your thesis.
- Use it as space to "to gesture beyond just what is included in the philosophy statement." You can be reflective (looking back and looking forward) or muse about what you envision for your teaching in the future. What do you want to try? to learn more about? How will you do that? How will those changes make a difference to your students?
- If you have not used an anecdote already, this can be a good place. You can also anchor the piece with a closing quote or statement of importance.
- If you're applying for a job, you can sum up what makes you a good candidate, if you have not said this earlier.
- References: (From Vanderbilt U.) "Your teaching statement is not a research paper. However, if you say that you will use backwards design in developing your syllabus, then you ... [should] cite Wiggins and McTighe (2005). If you suggest that you will use a particular model, cite [an] authority showing how that model has been used successfully. Your teaching statement must give credit where it’s due, just like any other writing you produce. It’s good to show the reader you are familiar with scholarship of teaching and learning broadly, and within your discipline. Consult mentors in your field to find out more about disciplinary conventions for page length and how to cite authority in your teaching statement."
- Cite any ideas that are not your own.
- Use in line citations and create a reference list.
STYLE: Writing for Clarity and Efficiency
Although the voice of a TPS is personal and narrative, the style is not informal. Selection or review committees should be reassured from reading this document that your writing will reflect well on the institution.
- Eliminate noise - p.19; Exercise - p. 22 (Claremont Workbook)
- Use the active voice (i,we) - p. 20; Exercise and sample rewrites - pp.21- 22
- Paragraph clarity (assertion-evidence-commentary model) - pp. 24-26; Exercise and sample rewrites - pp. 26-27
- Try the Hemingway Editor -- http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
- WARNING: Don't trust your spelling and grammar checkers.
- The best ways to find errors in your writing are to: (1) wait a few days and then reread or (2) ask someone to proofread it with you. I stress 'with' rather than 'for' because it's a more powerful way of learning what to look for yourself.
- Trusting the spell checker in your word processing program can be risky, because it's guessing at a correction based on letter combinations rather than meaning. Google Docs has the most powerful checker I've seen. It not only picks up spelling problems but will also show some wording errors.
- I tested 5 online grammar checkers, including Grammarly, with the sentence: "Driving through the deep snow, it was too dangerous to go on." Not one flagged it as an error.