One aspect of my journey in academia that I did not receive any formal training in (few do but that’s beginning to change), was the development of a Teaching Statement. Which is to say, how to develop my personal philosophy on how I approach university-level education, how I decide which facets of information or skills to include and foster in students, and how to assess whether my teaching style and content are effective.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing selected portions of my Teaching Statement here, as I refine my philosophies for the submission of my second-year review this fall. I welcome feedback! Feel free to comment on the post (note, all comments require my approval before appearing publicly on the site), or contact me directly if you have more substantial edits.
The Teaching Statement is a component for most academic positions which include a lecture or teaching component as a primary effort of the job. I had to write one for my assistant professor applications, but not for any of my post-doctoral or graduate positions even though those included some teaching. For my job applications, my Teaching Statements reflected my previous experiences, explained the courses I wanted to develop, and gave a brief introduction to how I approach teaching.
As a tenure-track assistant professor, I will spend the first 5-ish years of my position creating a tenure packet – a massive document that amalgamates all my accomplishments, failures, and explanations of my actions. Since 50% of my appointment is teaching, my packet will include student evaluations of my courses, a list and description of the courses I developed, and a detailed Teaching Statement. I will use the Statement section to outline my teaching strategies, how I implemented them at UMaine, and how I improved them over time. Since I have only been teaching for a few months at UMaine, my current Teaching Statement includes a lot of strategies which have been implemented only once so far. My Statement will refine over time as I have more to add to it, as I work out the kinks in my course materials, and as I incorporate new aspects of learning and application into my pedagogy.
Teaching Statements are not confidential (assuming they do not contain sensitive information), but are generally only shared at the request and by the discretion of the faculty member. Each tenure-granting institution is unique, and departments weigh criteria differently, thus Statements can’t really be directly compared between faculty. That being said, I thought it would be beneficial to share some of my content and the process, in part because I might as well get the extra credit for writing a blog post on content I have already generated, but also because I feel that transparency can improve my competency and academia in general.