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Developing your Teaching Philosophy

14 December 2022

Documenting your beliefs about various aspects of teaching and learning will help you gain a better understanding of who you are as a teacher.

We encourage you to spend some time reflecting on your teaching and developing and/or reviewing your teaching philosophy. Your teaching philosophy helps you explain to others why you are a teacher and why you teach the way you do. As a starting point in developing your working philosophy of teaching, have a go at writing some thoughts in response to the following questions:

  • Why do I believe my students want to learn? Describe them as learners in any way you can.
  • What are my aims for teaching? What do I hope to accomplish when I teach? What do my aims say about me as a teacher?
  • Does my subject matter affect my beliefs about teaching or learning? If so, explain how.
  • Create a list in response to the following prompt: “When I teach I …” Once you’ve created the list, reflect on why you do what you do.
  • What do I believe about learning? How would I describe it? What are my sources for my beliefs?

Now spend some time thinking about the qualities of effective teachers by having a go at writing some thoughts in response to the following statements:

  • A “personal best” achievement for me as a teacher during the past year is …
  • The best teacher I have ever known is … The personal qualities that made this person a great teacher are …
  • The qualities of the best teacher I knew appear in my teaching practice through …
  • If I could give a gift-wrapped box that contained the best qualities of my teaching style, the items in the box would be …
  • To give up one of the worst qualities I have as a teacher, I would need to …
  • If I wrote a book about teaching, the title would be … The three main points about teaching I would make would be …
  • My personal definition of a great teacher is … The experience/s that formed this definition include …

Try to compile your responses to the questions and statements above into a written teaching philosophy. This might start as a few sentences and grow to a few paragraphs, or it might start longer and become more concise.

Now that you have spent some time reflecting on your teaching practice and composing your teaching philosophy think about whether your teaching philosophy is realistic? Does your approach to teaching serve the needs of students today? What do you need to change or add to your teaching practice and/or written teaching philosophy to ensure it does? How will you make those changes?

Remember the Teaching Quality team is here to help you. View our Teaching resources and contact us ([email protected]) to discuss how we can assist you with your teaching.

 

Adapted from the following sources:

Exploring Your Teaching Philosophy: Sample Exercises. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo. Accessed from: https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/professional-development/enhancing-your-teaching/exploring-your-teaching-philosophy

Apps, J. (1991). Mastering the Teaching of Adults. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Co., pp. 27-35.

Grasha, A. (1996). Teaching With Style. Pittsburgh, PA: Alliance Publishers, p. 55.