I loved this article: “The Dreaded Teaching Statement: Eight Pitfalls” (well the first part on how everyone hates writing these things)
As soon as I have to write anything related to me, my thoughts, or my principles, I want to vomit. Writing a cover letter is bad enough, writing a statement of interest for Grad school was painful, writing a teaching philosophy is torture but writing a being faculty statement is unbearable. (any of these statements are from on referred to as xxx)
I always wonder about 2 things:
1) Does anyone really read them? And even if they read it, do they believe it? (I wouldn’t believe a word –thinking that people just write what they think I want to hear)
2) Does anyone writing these things really tell the truth?
When I have to write anything like this, I always start googling tips and pitfalls and look at statements that other people wrote – from there I will write my own (being careful not to violate copyright/plagiarize). I follow the tips and take ideas from others.
The problem is that I don’t state my own reasons/philosophies nor am I being honest. When I had to write my statement on why I want to join this grad school program at tech, I omitted the truth (that’s the only program I applied to because I am lazy, and most importantly because I heard only great things about the hiking in Blacksburg) and wrote all the “right” stuff (great research program, great chance for funding etc)
Another problem is that when you read articles about “How to write xxx” or the “Pitfalls of xxx” – they don’t always give you the same advice. Different people have different opinions and it is impossible to please everyone (even though I still believe that 90% of statements won’t ever be read) When I read xxx statements from people I have to hire I usually look for different things that other people would prefer to read about. I don’t like long statements (lazy me), I don’t like to read about all your accomplishments and how great you are (makes me think you are too arrogant), nor do I like to read about the mistakes you made and then how you want to improve yourself (sounds like you read one of the guides on how to write one).
I am looking for original statements, nothing where you followed rules. I am looking for your own voice, your own words. If your whole teaching philosophy says the following, I would hire you over someone writing a page or 2 about their philosophy: “I haven’t taught enough to establish my own philosophy yet, but I will do my best to teach my future students. I will make mistakes, learn from them and will gladly receive advice from my experienced colleagues”
I think we need to get away from all the rules/suggestions for writing xxx, especially resumes/CVs. They all look identical nowadays. They are boring.