Many jobs in higher education that involve teaching will require candidates to submit a Statement of Teaching Philosophy or Teaching Statement. A common problem with teaching philosophies is that writers often fall into the trap of making broad, cliché statements about music teaching and learning. Members of the search committee don’t want to read a document that is vague at best. Instead, an effective teaching philosophy should focus on 1-3 topics/approaches you most highly value which, in turn, guide most aspects of your teaching. Think of it like a Statement of Teaching Priorities.
Aim for 1-2 pages of text, single or 1.5 spaced. Outline your ideas first and organize your statement to include 1-2 paragraphs per value, with clear examples supporting each focus area.
Use an introductory paragraph that will prepare the reader for the topics or values you will address.
Keep your teaching statement student-outcome centered.
Limit your focus. While you probably care about most aspects of music, your statement should rely on guiding concepts rather than be a grab bag of topics.
Verbs should be in the present tense. (“I focus on rhythmic accuracy” is better than “I have focused” or “I would focus” statements.)
Give concise examples to show how your approach has been effective. Help the reader imagine you in an engaging teaching scenario.
Represent yourself and your approach genuinely.
Read the teaching statements of others who are employed. These can often be found on individuals’ websites.
Don’t describe an ideal teacher. Instead, give examples of how your own teaching has been effective.
Don’t focus solely on the concept of individualizing your lessons. This standard idea is cliché and should be assumed by most readers. However, if you want to develop the idea to discuss your priority for differentiated instruction through consistently using varied approaches A and B, that would be more appropriate.
Don’t base your statement on a quote by someone else. Focus instead on the reasons for your own approach.
Don’t focus on solving problems (reactive teaching) but instead on offering positive structure (proactive teaching).
Don’t refer to the school for which you are applying; that is done in the cover letter.
TOPICS FOR BRAINSTORMING — WHAT IS YOUR ROLE? WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES AND END GOALS FOR YOUR STUDENTS?
How to Write a Statement of Teaching Philosophy
4 Steps to a Memorable Teaching Philosophy
Teaching Statement Goals and Samples