Writing your Teaching Philosophy

Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence

Writing a Teaching Philosophy

Candace Roberts, Ph.D.

A Teaching Philosophy is a personal narrative that describes what you believe about teaching and learning and about how your beliefs inform your practice. 

The purpose of a teaching philosophy is twofold.

  • To introduce yourself to others who may be interested in knowing who you are as an instructor (prospective employers, deans, chairs, and tenure & promotion committees).

  • To reflect on what it means to be a teaching professor. This is perhaps the most productive reason for crafting a teaching philosophy.  It is an opportunity to articulate and, to some extent, develop your own teaching identity; to decide what’s important to you and what you value as an instructor, and to evaluate how these align with what you actually do in the classroom, so you can build on that by making intentional decisions to strengthen your expertise and impact. 

Seven Tips to consider when crafting a teaching philosophy

  1. Remember, teaching is not about you.  It’s about the students.  While it is important for you to articulate the theoretical underpinnings for what you believe, it’s equally important to focus on what this means for students.  Your statement should address student learning as much as it addresses your teaching.

  2. How have you become who you are as a teaching professor? What is your history? Who were your mentors? How has your teaching evolved, both in understanding and practice?  Don’t spend too much time on your history, as your narrative should only be 2-4 pages total, but some history will help contextualize your philosophy and practice.

  3. A teaching philosophy is an intensely personal statement, so write in the first person and be authentic. Allow your voice to be present on the page.  Avoid sweeping generalities or writing a theoretical paper on teaching and learning.  Write about your teaching and learning.  The reader should be able to envision you in the classroom with your students.    

  4. Tell stories. Use concrete examples from your own teaching.  What have you learned from your students?  If you believe in constructivism, give examples of what that looks like in your classroom, including specific strategies you use.  If you believe technology tools can support learning, give examples of specific tools you use and how that impacts student engagement. 

  5. How do you know students are learning in your class? What assessment strategies do you use to facilitate or gauge student learning?  How does assessment inform your practice?

  6. What impact do you hope to have on your students? Specifically, what will they take away from your course and from their experience of learning from you?

  7. A Teaching Philosophy is an evolving document changing throughout your career, influenced by the depth and breadth of your experiences, personal reflection, and intentional decisions. Given all this, what are your goals, and how will you continue to grow?

 

For further reading about how to write a teaching philosophy, check out the following two articles:

“4 Steps to a Memorable Teaching Philosophy”   

“Exploring Teaching Philosophies”