Faculty 411

How to write a teaching statement

Excellent teaching is critical in STEM education. At Emory, we place a high priority on teaching to show our commitment to students and their success. We have recently transformed our entire undergraduate degree program to employ evidence-based pedagogical practices and a more modern curricular approach, which we call “Chemistry Unbound.” However, in any classroom, chemistry teachers are tasked with engaging students in new knowledge and the development of scientific practices in their earliest days as a first-year undergraduate or even as an advanced graduate student. So, how do you write a teaching statement that lets the search committee members know you are up for this task? Here are some practical guidelines for your teaching statement.

Length and Narrative

Your teaching statement should be 1-2 pages and should have a narrative style that is written in the first-person.

Be student-focused in your goals

Your statement should focus on the goals you have for your students. What do you hope students will achieve through your teaching and example? You may wish to consider the classroom audience – introductory courses, non-majors courses, courses for majors, graduate courses, etc. Clearly outlining your goals for your students demonstrates a student-centered teaching approach. Include any informal student feedback you have received and consider sharing this feedback with your letter writers also.

Be specific and share concrete examples

The learning goals you state should connect to any evidence-based pedagogical methods you have employed. This should demonstrate why you teach the way you teach. Share your experiences in classroom or laboratory teaching, including mentoring of undergraduates or graduate students in your research. Connect to your diversity statement by describing inclusive classroom methodologies you may have used.

Evaluation of student learning goals

State how you have or will assess your stated student learning goals and what you hope to gain from those assessments. State how you can use this information to improve student learning and adapt your own teaching methods.

Research mentoring is part of teaching

While classroom teaching is a central part of the faculty job, not all of your teaching will occur in the classroom. You can also discuss your philosophy, goals, and ideas for mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers in your own lab.

Be authentic

Write your statement in the first person and be real in your statements. Someone else should be able to read your statement and say, “Yes, this sounds like you.”

Your teaching philosophy will always be a work progress

See the opportunity to write this teaching statement as the first step for defining your teaching goals and identity. No educator has it all figured out, and your teaching statement can reflect your growth and learning over time. Be authentic in your words and know that, like your research, your goals will shift and evolve with experience and connections with students.

Other excellent resources

By Tracy McGill

Tracy McGill is a Professor of Pedagogy in the Emory University Department of Chemistry. She was among the faculty to lead the development of the Chemistry Unbound curriculum and is also the founder of the "Chem Mentors" (now Learning Assistants) program. Outside of the classroom, Tracy plays clarinet with the Seed & Feed Marching Abominables and enjoys spending time with her husband, Tom, and daughter, Mary.