Along with your cover letter and resume, schools want to read through your teaching philosophy. What is a teaching philosophy? What should it include? Your teaching philosophy shows your insights and beliefs about teaching. It tells future employers the why, what, and how of your teaching. As you start writing your teaching philosophy, use these tips to guide you.
One of the best ways to brainstorm ideas for your teaching philosophy is to answer questions about your views on teaching. For example:
- What do you believe about teaching? About learning?
- How is this reflected in your teaching?
- What are your goals for yourself? For your students?
- How does your students’ background make a difference in your teaching?
- What don’t you like in a teacher?
- What do you want students to get from your class?
Think about your attitude, values, and beliefs when it comes to teaching. As you consider your answers, start to outline what you’ll say in your teaching philosophy.
Rely on Research
Along with your own ideas, think about some of the other resources that have impacted the way you think and feel about teaching. Are there any books or articles that have been particularly insightful? Was there something you learned during your undergraduate experience or from a faculty member that influenced you as a teacher?
As you talk about how and why you developed your teaching philosophy, cite the sources that you reference. Referring to these sources shows that you take teaching seriously and use other credible sources to shape your philosophy.
Focus on the Students
Rather than spend the entire time focusing on what you do as a teacher, talk about the student and how you’ll help them. Show your enthusiasm and humility as a teacher. Most teachers strive for student-centered instruction. Use your teaching philosophy to show how you’ll accomplish this in your classroom.
Give Concrete Examples
While discussing your teaching philosophy, you’ll probably find yourself saying things like “I promote collaboration in the classroom” or “I believe that critical thinking is essential for students to learn.” Rather than just make these empty statements, explain them. Tell a story or give a description of how you came to learn the importance of that principle in your classroom. Explain any past experiences that influenced your teaching practices.
Keep It Brief
In general, it’s a good idea to keep your teaching philosophy to 1 or 2 pages. Of course, as you continue to progress in your teaching career, some schools will want to see up to 4 pages for your teaching philosophy. When you’re first starting out, however, try to keep it brief and concise.
Demonstrate Good Writing Skills
As an educator, you should have excellent writing skills and your teaching philosophy should reflect this. It should be clean and polished, written in the first person using the present tense. Keep it organized and free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Have multiple people read through it and provide you with constructive criticism and feedback to help you improve your writing.
As you continue on your path as an educator, don’t forget about your teaching philosophy. Continue to refine it, so it truly shows what, how, and why you teach the way you do.
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