On January 24, I had the pleasure of giving a workshop to the UCSD ScienceBridge fellows, a group of Ph.D. students who participate in a program that teaches, trains, coaches them to be better science communicators. They do a lot of work creating lessons and presentations about science that are used in local San Diego high schools. If the ScienceBridge website is down (apparently, it has issues), this collection of videos will give you an idea of what they do.
The Fellows are looking ahead to careers in academia so the program organizers, Johnnie Lyman and Shelley Glenn asked me to run a workshop on writing a killer teaching statement. Amongst the tips and suggestions from places like the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt and the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning at the University of Michigan, there are 2 (well, 3) slides that are my favorites.
The CfT at Vandy has a nice list of what a teaching statement should include. Here’s what you get when you dump that list into wordle:
Clearly, a teaching statement should be about learning. Now, by default, wordle removes all the little words like “the”, “is”, “a”. You can force wordle to include them, though. Here’s the Vandy list with all the words:
Do you notice the difference? Learning is still important but so are you and your. A teaching statement is about YOU: what YOU believe is important, what YOU will do in the classroom, why the hiring committee should remember YOUR name.
My other favorite slide illustrates how to start writing your teaching statement. Recently, my friend Bridgette Clarkston (@funnyfishes on twitter) wrote a nice post about creating “Way Cool Presentations.” It links to some advice from Garr Reynolds (@presentationzen on twitter) about dividing your picture (or slide) into a 3 x 3 grid and placing important features on the 4 “power points” where the grid lines intersect. The dude on the bench and the text I added are sitting close to those. I like the way it turned out.
Step 1: sit and think about what teaching means to you. (Image: Just a thought by gintoxin78 on flickr CC)
Here are the rest of slides I used and some teaching statement terrific resources:
- Teaching Statements, Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University
- The Teaching Philosophy/Teaching Statement, Center for Research on Teaching and Learning at the University of Michigan
- Examples of teaching statements in Engineering, Natural and Physical Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, also at the CRTL at UMich
- A useful rubric for reviewing your teaching statement (PDF) by Kaplan, O’Neal, Meizlish, Carillo, and Kardia (2005), also at the CRTL at UMich
- Writing Teaching Statements and Philosophies, McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton
- Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement, University Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Ohio State University