Faculty Focus


A Teaching Philosophy Journey: Peeling Back the Layers

Book with writing and coffee mug and pencil laid open on the table

How do you find your teaching philosophy? How do get to the core of your teaching beliefs and summarize it in a teaching philosophy statement?

“It isn’t always easy to peel away layers of detail and arrive at one’s core beliefs. What we believe about teaching, learning, and students mostly rests on unexamined assumptions and taken-for-granted premises. For example, many faculty believe in the shared nature of the educational endeavor. They’re committed to student participation in the process, but they pass out a syllabus that lays down the law in language that’s anything but participatory. Once they’re made aware of the inconsistency, I’ve seen faculty start revising the phrasing of policies immediately (Weimer, 2021).”

“In addition to activities that lead to core beliefs, it’s valuable to explore how a set of beliefs fit together. They don’t operate independently but in concert, hopefully with some coherence. In this case it’s more like peeling an orange to see how the segments fit together, which can be rather hodgepodge, depending on the orange (Weimer, 2021).” 

The following guide offers resources and guidance on how to “peel back the layers” of your teaching philosophy and find meaning in your teaching journey. You’ll discover examples of written teaching philosophies, what the main purpose of your philosophy is, and how to begin writing one.

Teaching Philosophy Statements

Teaching philosophy statements are narrative descriptions of “one’s conception of teaching, including the rationale for one’s teaching methods. It is seen as a place to voice holistic views of the teaching process, including one’s thoughts about the definitions and interaction between learning and teaching, perceptions of the teacher’s and student’s roles, and the goals and values of education” (Beatty, J. E., Leigh, J. S. A., and Dean, K. L., 100).

Preparing a teaching philosophy statement can effectively promote the ongoing growth and development of teachers. But some of that growth benefit is lost when teaching philosophy statements are prepared for a venue in which the teacher is being judged. Then, don’t forget about the motivation to prepare a “correct” or “impressive” statement as opposed to one truly reflective of what the teacher believes. So, how do you write a philosophy of teaching statement that’s true to yourself? How do you take your teaching in soul form and extract it into a statement, a philosophy of teaching statement? This guide will provide examples of teaching philosophy statements, how can you begin writing your own, and will help you understand the main purpose of your own teaching philosophy.

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• Preparing Teaching Philosophy Statements
• A Teaching Philosophy Built on Knowledge, Critical Thinking, and Curiosity
• My Educational Philosophy
• What to Look for in Teaching Philosophy Statements
• My Philosophy of Teaching
• Ten Tips for a Great Professional Development Statement
• Podcast episode: Establishing and Revisiting Our Teaching Philosophies and Teaching Personas
• Free report: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement

Teaching Professor articles (requires paid subscription)

• What’s Your Learning Philosophy?
• Teaching Philosophies: Time for a Revisit
• Another Way into Your Teaching Philosophy

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The Purpose of Teaching

“‘Our personal teaching philosophies are similar to our earlier selves, but now seem developmentally obsolete’ (Beatty, J. E., Leigh, J., & Dean, K. L., 2020). Does an evolution of some sort occur in all teachers? What kind of external influences and experiences might change a teacher’s philosophy? If the teacher becomes aware of growth and change, does that awareness add significance, make it more likely to affect what a teacher does in courses?’ (Weimer, 2021).”

“Creating, maintaining, and revising a teaching philosophy or manifesto for the purpose of instructional growth has so many potential benefits. I deeply regret that I did not regularly shine the light of my beliefs on my instructional practice in any systematic or purposeful way. I stumbled onto inconsistencies. Thoughtful preparation of a teaching philosophy reveals disconnects—how a teacher can hold a belief but then contradict it with a practice or commit to a practice unaware of the belief structure on which it rests. Revisiting a statement prepared earlier is like looking at the teacher you once were and seeing what’s changed. I look at my hands; they’re still mine, unlike anyone else’s, but now they’re old hands. Seeing change is instructive. Sharing teaching philosophies reveals different belief structures and enables us to discuss their relative merits, given what, how and who we teach. And finally, these statements of belief make clear the largeness of what education attempts to accomplish. We teach to make lives better today and tomorrow (Weimer, 2021).”

The following resources take your philosophy statement one step further by outlining teaching career goals, teaching outcomes, and the role of a teacher in the learning process.

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• Nine Characteristics of a Great Teacher
• Remembering Our Mission to Teach
• Teaching Philosophies: Your Teaching Soul in Document Form
• Three Teaching Styles
• The Online Teaching Strategy: How to Personalize Your Motivation
• Seven Strategies for Embracing the Emotional Labor of Teaching
• Six Ways to Fall in Love with Teaching Again

Teaching Professor articles (requires paid subscription)

• Does Your Teaching-Learning Philosophy Align with Your Teaching?
• Confidence, Clarity, and Concern: Developing an Effective Teaching Persona
• Awakening to All Aspects of Teaching
• The Emotions That Fuel Our Teaching
• Becoming a Better Teacher: Articles for New and Not-So-New Faculty

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