Planning to apply to study teaching?
You'll need to submit a Teacher Personal Statement to QTAC as part of your application.
We've put together this resource to help you write yours.
It will help you work through the following steps:
Understand the purpose and requirements of the teaching statement
Understand different types of skills and compare to those required for teaching
Identify own skills, experience and motivations to consider its applications to teaching
Design and write your own teaching statement
Understand how the learning can be applied in other contexts (e.g. responding to selection criteria for a job)
Step 1: Understand why
What is the purpose of writing a teaching personal statement?
The purpose of the teaching statement is to provide the reader with a reflective account of your personal beliefs, skills and experiences in relation to teaching. In fact, the purpose of the teaching statement is very similar to the recruitment process some employers use when requesting applicants to address the selection criteria in a job application. This type of document helps the reader to assess the applicant’s suitability for a role.
Think about your audience
The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) will assess if your statement meets the key competencies outlined by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.
Your reader (QTAC), not only wants to be able to understand what motivates you and what skills and experiences you have had that relates to teaching. They will also be assessing how you connect the ideas in your text to teaching as a profession and how you present your arguments in the text.
Step 2: Understand skills
Skills and abilities can be tasks that you naturally do well, or talents and strengths that you bring to the table as a student and/or employee. These include natural capabilities you’ve always had, in addition to specific knowledge and skills you’ve gained through experience and training.
Below are three different types of skills, explore these and start thinking about what skills you have in each different area.
Transferable skills are an ability or expertise which may be used in a variety of roles or occupations.
- Communication - Communication skills that can be broken down into four main components: listening, speaking reading and writing.
- Listening: How do you demonstrate you are an active listener? Think about body language and verbal signs of active listening (for example, positive enforcement, remembering what the person says, asking relevant questions, paraphrasing).
- Speaking: Can you speak clearly and do you modify your language depending on who you are talking to or the situation?
- Reading: Understanding what is written on a text is fundamental for all readers but being able to use different reading strategies to analyse and evaluate the text.
- Writing: Can you write effectively, clearly and concisely in a variety of styles?
- Leadership - Can you show initiative and ability to lead in certain situations? This might include helping to motivate someone to do something, taking responsibility for completing work and leading others effectively to accomplish an objective or goal.
Knowledge-based skills that are required to perform a particular task.
- Fluency in a language.
- Ability to use specific computer programmes - What computer programs are you confident in using?
- Ability to use technical equipment - What technical equipment do you know how to use?
Personal Traits and attitudes are skills that are often habitual patterns of behaviour, temperament and emotion.
- Attitude - The capacity to stay optimistic and positive.
- Enthusiastic - Having a keen interest in a subject or cause. It is an energy that often inspires others.
- Ethical - The quality of having and living by a code of sound moral principles.
- Resilient - The ability to endure in the face of adversity.
Everyone will bring skills within these three areas. Through an education course you will learn many more. Can you think about a great teacher you have had and what types of skills they might have exhibited?
Step 3: Identify your skills
These are just some examples of skills you may have. There are many more.
Activity 1: Reflect
What skills do you have that are listed here? Can you think of any other skills? Write them down and think about situations where you may have used some of these skills. For example: I have strong Excel skills and I have used Pivot Tables and formulas to analyse and report on feedback from members in my sports club.
- Team Player
- Writing Skills
- Analytical Skills
- Computer Skills
- Time Management
- Customer Service
- Negotiation Skills
- Presentation Skills
- Planning and Organisation
- Interpersonal Skills
- Software proficiency (e.g. MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
- Data Analysis (can apply specific techniques or methods such as statistical or text analysis and use Data Analysis Tools such as MatLab, SQL, NVivo))
- Database and search engine searching (e.g. Google Scholar, PubMed, Jstor)
- Language other than English
- Typing Skills (accuracy and speed)
- Product Development
- Social Media (e.g. strategy planning, optimising content and technology)
- Open Minded
- Self-directed learner
Step 4: Understand the requirements
The Teaching Personal Statement comprises of two categories.
We will explain all these in detail as we go through each section.
Your Motivation and Suitability to Become a Teacher
In the first category, you need to write up to 500 words about your motivation and your suitability (your skills, abilities and personal qualities) for teaching. You need to think about what events or people have inspired you to become a teacher, why teaching is a good career choice and why you are interested in teaching.
Your Involvement in Personal Learning and Leadership Activities
In the second statement, also no more than 500 words, you need to talk about your involvement in learning and or leadership activities. Think about what sort of learning activities you've been involved in school for example. Have you helped a fellow student with understanding a concept in class?
Step 5: Understand reflective writing
Reflective writing is evidence of reflective thinking.
Reflective writing is a style of writing that is common in Education assignments – so completing the statement might give you an insight on some of the writing you might be doing at university! While there are many definitions of reflection, often this style of writing is used to reinforce your knowledge and experiences and improve your practice.
There are several reflective frameworks that can help you structure your reflection – The Gibb’s reflective cycle and the 4Rs Model of Reflective Thinking are common tools used for reflecting on practical experiences and learning.
"It is not sufficient to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting on this experience it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost." (Gibbs, 1988 , p9)
Gibbs, G (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic.
Step 6: Writing your statement
The QTAC fact sheet provides six questions in each section that will prompt you on how to complete the two parts of your statement. The prompt questions can help you frame your response – use bullet points to list your feelings, experiences and thoughts to brainstorm and start outlining your draft. Alternatively, you can create a concept map if you prefer to have a visual display of your ideas.
Activity 2: Brainstorm
Below are some further prompts that might help you find your own answers. It might be a good idea to write them in a Word document. Remember to use some of the skills you have already identified to help you complete this section.
Who or what has inspired you to become a teacher?
Did you have a teacher who really encouraged you? What did they do and how did they make you feel? Or did you have a “wow" moment?
Why is teaching a good career choice?
Is it because you want to inspire and educate the next generation? Or because your work may benefit your community? Or because you enjoy sharing your passion? Do you think teaching might be a challenging and rewarding career? Why?
Why are you interested in teaching children/young people?
Do you want to make a difference in the lives of young people? Do you want to give back to your community? Do you want to improve the quality of education?
What subjects are you interested in and why?
Do you like Maths because you love finding answers, or you are interested in Chemistry because your teacher is amazing? Do you love History because it helps you understand the world?
What does being a good teacher mean to you?
Being someone passionate and knowledgeable? Inspiring others? Being a role model? Always aspiring to excellence?
What skills and abilities do you have that will make you a good teacher?
Are you enthusiastic? Patient? Do you have a good sense of humour? Are you creative? Are you flexible? Can you empathise with people easily?
What learning activities have I been engaged in?
Have you ever helped another fellow student to understand a concept in class? Have you helped a sibling with their homework? Have you taught someone how to play a game?
What leadership activities have I undertaken?
Have you ever been a team captain or coach in your local sports club? Did you take lead in a group project at school?
What activities of personal interest am I involved in?
Do you like sport? Music? Theatre? Scouts? Gaming? Do you enjoy playing something or setting things up so others can play/enjoy? In what ways your personal interest might be connected to teaching?
How long have I participated? How am I involved?
Do you attend or help organise events that relate to your personal interest? Or is this something you practice every day or weekly? How often and for how long?
What tasks or events have I planned and/or organised?
Have you helped organise an event in your school or community? Were you responsible for making up flyers, sending invitations out or contacting local business to support an event?
How have I shown that I can work with others?
Is there a situation where you helped someone with a problem? Can you think of a time when you listened to someone’s ideas? Or when you compromised to achieve a goal?
What do I do to overcome obstacles, challenges or problems?
Think about a time when you needed to solve a problem. How did you identify the problem? Did you try to break the problem down in smaller parts? Did you focus on one step at the time? Did you ask someone for help or advice? Was someone else involved? Did you listen to their concerns?
Activity 3: Draft
Before you start your draft, it is important to plan how much time you might spend writing your document (and taking breaks!) To help you plan, consider that you need to write 500 words for each statement and QTAC have provided 6 prompting questions. This means you could dedicate around 100 words to each question (or 83 words if you want to be more precise). Breaking down the structure will help you make the task more manageable. You can choose to work on both statements together or individually.
At this stage, you might want to focus on writing your ideas as they come and not worry too much about grammar or word choice. The focus is to write using a logical order that outlines the ideas covered in each paragraph – your bullet points or concept map should help you organise your ideas in a logical and sequenced order.
Paragraphs are units of sentences in the development of an idea or argument. Each paragraph contains one main idea which is introduced, supported and concluded in a conventional structure which includes the elements of topic sentence, controlling idea, supporting sentences and summarising transition. Whether reflecting on an experience or you own learning you need to include:
- Evidence or example
- Relevance – Why is this important?
Paragraphs should have at least three (but preferably more than three) sentences.
You will refine your document as we progress through the resources. Make sure you have a break before starting the next activity – editing is most effective when you let your writing settle for at least 24 hours!
Activity 4: Editing
Hopefully you planned yourself a break before starting this activity!
Editing focuses on improving your text as a whole.
Find a quiet place with no distractions (including your phone). The first step is to re-read your document – you might even want to read it out loud to identify parts that don’t sound right.
Editing takes time and works best when you are fresh – for example early in the day if possible.
The list below provides you with a guide to refine your work:
- Do paragraphs have clear topic sentences and present information in a logical order?
- In each paragraph, does the topic sentence express clearly what the main idea is?
- Does each paragraph link to the next to ensure coherence and flow?
- Are the sentences the right length? While there are no hard rules, sentences over 35 words are too long. The average sentence length is 15-25 words.
- Is your document clear and consistent?
- Are you using active voice?
- Are you using appropriate language for your audience?
- Remember it is ok to use first person language in a reflective text, but you still need to keep it formal.
Additional editing resources from other universities
Activity 5: Proofreading
Proofreading is the final stage of your writing. The aim is to focus on details such as spelling, punctuation and formatting.
You might choose to print your document and proofread it using a ruler. You could also consider using a writing app such as Grammarly (which offers a free version for MS Word) to help you find mistakes in your text.
- Is your language concise and precise?
- Is your spelling accurate and consistent, in Australian English? Don’t rely on spell check as it won’t catch all mistakes such as typos that are actual words.
- Have you checked:
- Correct use and consistency of verb tenses?
- Agreement of nouns, tenses and pronouns?
- Do all your sentences have punctuation?
- Are you using a readable font? Is the size consistent throughout the document?
- Are your margins consistent?
You might choose to put your document aside for a couple of days and proofread it again. We also encourage you to ask a teacher, a friend, a sibling, a neighbour or parent to proofread your document for additional reassurance!
Step 7: Apply
By now you should have a good understanding of the requirements of the Teaching Personal Statement and how your skills, experiences and beliefs will make you an amazing educator! If you completed all the activities, you should have a written statement for each category that you can choose to submit with any of your applications to initial teacher education courses.
Being able to reflect on your own experiences is an important skill for any person. Employers often expect, particularly during the recruitment process, that you are able to articulate your own experiences and learnings, and back them up with concrete examples of how you have approached different situations. Completing the activities and writing your statement will give some idea about your personal skills and some examples that you may be able to use when applying for jobs that require applicants to address the selection criteria.
Before you head to the QTAC page to apply for your initial teacher education course, let us know what you have learned by completing a one-minute anonymous survey. Good Luck!