Teaching Philosophy

The development of teaching philosophies has become a common practice among educators, as they can be useful—and are often recommended or required—in job applications for faculty positions and in the tenure and promotion review process.  Teachers also find the process of writing such a philosophy instrumental in making their own teaching goals more deliberate and intentional.  We often teach without ever really thinking about long-term goals, but the process of writing a teaching philosophy encourages the kind of consideration and reflection that can ultimately improve our effectiveness in the classroom.

Why write a teaching philosophy?[i]

  • It presents a capsule summary of your understanding of the value and purpose of teaching and learning to current and prospective employers, students, and colleagues
  • It encourages deep self-reflection that in turn enhances your teaching and your ability to contribute positively to your learning community

An effective teaching philosophy should answer these questions:[ii]

  • Why do I teach?
  • What does good teaching mean to me?
  • What does effective learning mean to me?
  • Do I have a particular teaching style or approach? If so, how would I describe it?
  • What makes me unique as a teacher?
  • What do I expect from my students?
  • What can my students expect from me?
  • What do I do to continue to improve?

Key elements—A teaching philosophy statement usually includes:[iii]

  • Your goals and values – your personal values as a teacher and goals for your students
  • Your description of how you teach – the approaches and methods (unique to you and specific to your discipline) you use to achieve those objectives
  • Your assumptions about teaching and learning – your justification for why you teach the way you teach
  • Your discussion of how you intend to measure through self and student assessment your effectiveness vis-à-vis the objectives and methods you have outlined

Teaching and learning topics to consider addressing in your statement:[iv]

  • The knowledge, skills, or attitudes you seek to foster in your students (student learning outcomes)
  • Why teaching is important to you
  • The teaching strategies you use to promote student learning—An imbalance between philosophy and methodology is a common pitfall identified in teaching statements. Generate a list of the learning outcomes you expect for your students. Describe the instructional method(s) you employ to help students achieve each outcome, and explain the role of each technique in helping students achieve the desired outcome.
  • The learning environment you seek to create in your classroom—This includes your expectations for the teacher-student relationship as well as student-student interactions; how you create a safe, comfortable environment for students; and what actions you take to create connections between students. It might also be appropriate to discuss how you ensure active participation from diverse students.
  • Determining whether students have achieved desired outcomes—A common pitfall identified in teaching statements is a lack of objective evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness. Describe the types of assessments you use (e.g., minute papers, multiple choice tests, papers, etc.) and why you use these assessment methods. Ideally, your statement will illustrate how you enable students to demonstrate their knowledge in diverse ways, and how you use assessment to contribute to learning as well as improve your teaching.
  • The role of teaching in the context of career or lifelong goals—Describe the role teaching plays in your professional growth and development, and how you want to grow as a teacher.

The answers to these may be incorporated in your teaching philosophy statement:[v]

  • What are my concepts or views on how people (like my students) learn and how can I facilitate that learning?
  • What goals do I have for my students and why?
  • How do I transform my concepts about teaching and learning and goals for my students into classroom practices?
  • How do I know that my classroom practices are effective?

Click on the links included on this page to access articles and websites that offer more details on writing a teaching philosophy, as well as rubrics for evaluating your own philosophy and sample teaching philosophies from faculty members in various disciplines.

If you would like help writing a teaching philosophy of your own, contact the Institute for Teaching and Learning.

 

Notes:

[i] Adam Chapnick, PhD, Faculty Focus Special Report “Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement” (2009)

[ii] Adam Chapnick, PhD, Faculty Focus Special Report “Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement” (2009)

[iii] P. N. Ramani, PhD, Faculty Focus Special Report “Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement” (2009)

[iv]UTexas “Teaching Philosophy”

[v] P. N. Ramani, PhD, Faculty Focus Special Report “Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement” (2009)