Thinking About, Developing, and Creating a Teaching Philosophy

A teaching philosophy is a clearly written succinct statement describing one’s belief about teaching and learning. Solid teaching philosophies have four components: (1) teaching objectives or goals; (2) descriptions of pedagogy and examples of student assessment; (3) procedures to assess student effectiveness; and (4) a section on the instructor’s development and future goals. Perhaps when thinking about writing a teaching philosophy, it would be helpful to organize it like a research article with four major sections—introduction, methodology, results, and discussion. 
The introduction to your teaching philosophy will describe your core beliefs about teaching, how they developed, and how they transmit to the classroom. Think of your introduction as establishing your research question and the remaining document will support and answer your research question. For example, I believe learning is not a constant stable trait; rather learning is a developmental process and requires time, practice, and feedback to learn. The remaining introduction would set up how I developed my belief and what that looks like in the classroom. Your core teaching belief becomes your main research question and minor assumptions become minor research questions. 
The “methodology” of your teaching philosophy will describe how you teach. More specifically what methods or pedagogy do you employ—lecture, group work, discussion, questioning, experiential, case study, etc. In addition to your pedagogical preferences, you will discuss how you assess student learning—papers, tests, service learning, presentations, oral exams, etc. As with a research article, you will need to indicate how your pedagogical techniques and assessments match your core beliefs about teaching.
Conceivably, your “results” section will be the most important aspect of your “working” philosophy. Here you will discuss your “significant” results. In other words, how do you know your students are learning? How will your students demonstrate that they have learned? How will students be thinking differently as a result of your class? What actions will students be able to demonstrate or perform? Critically thinking about student learning and understanding is the foundation to effective teaching.
If the results section addresses how students are learning, then the discussion section should address how you as the instructor reflect on how well you are meeting your goals. How do you improve as a teacher? What are your future goals? Finally, your discussion should integrate all aspects of your philosophy together to give the reader a clear personal perspective of what it means to teach and learn. 

Last modified: Monday, 29 June 2009, 01:28 PM