How To Write a Winning Teaching Philosophy Statement (With Examples)
Remember those school days when we all were writing essays? Now it’s time for us, K-12 teachers, to re-experience the fear our students had during exams. We are talking about the teaching philosophy statement writing! Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll breeze through this task without much stress. But before we jump in, let’s get some definitions out of the way.
What is Teaching Philosophy?
The teaching philosophy statement also goes by the name “educational philosophy statement”. The University of Minnesota defines it the following way:
“Teaching philosophies express your values and beliefs about teaching. They are personal statements that introduce you, as a teacher, to your reader. As such, they are written in the first person and convey a confident, professional tone.”
In short, a teaching statement is your way of communicating the way you practice your craft, plus succinctly summarize your core classroom. Plus, it’s your way to “pitching” your services to a potential employer. That’s why it needs to be up to scratch!
How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement in 3 Steps
As with any other type of writing, you need to first articulate your key message, that is the key principle of your philosophy of teaching, and then pack those ideas into a coherent statement.
Typically, a teaching statement is around 250-300 words long—the size of a page. Try not to go much beyond that. Now, onto the steps!
Step 1. Line Up Main Talking Points for Your Teaching Philosophy Statement
The University of Minnesota offers some nice prompts that should help you gather your thoughts:
- Think about your concept of learning first. What exactly learning means to you? Jot down how you define learning success.
- Formalize your concept of teaching. What’s your approach to teaching? Consider the different activities, student engagement strategies, and other teaching methods that you successfully apply in the classroom.
- Line up your goals for students. What skills do you want the kids to develop under your guidance and what outcomes you’d really want to achieve in the classroom?
- Assess your teaching methods. How are you helping your student reach the stated objectives? Are there any particular learning theories that you prefer to follow? How does your ‘signature craft’ look?
- Consider the way you interact with students. How would a side observer rate your interaction with students? Consider what makes kids love your classes and what makes your classroom management philosophy different from other educators.
- Evaluate the assessment methods that you usually use. Do you prefer summative or formative assessments? Why?
- Finish by outlining your professional growth. What are your career goals as an educator? What’s the next best step for you?
Use the questions above to draft up a sample teaching philosophy statement. There’s no need to structure it properly at this point. You can always polish it up later on.
Step 2. Outline and Revise Your Draft
Once you have your ideas lined up, get to the ‘drawing board’. Much like a cover letter, you should start your teaching philosophy statement with a short greeting and intro paragraph, explaining who you are and what makes you interested in this particular school.
Next, present your body, built around the answers to the questions mentioned in the previous section. The University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching notes that your teaching statement should meet the following criteria:
- Offer evidence of practice
- Convey your effectiveness
- Is student- or learning-centered
- Is well-written, clear and coherent
- Have some reflectiveness component
Let’s illustrate these points with several quick teaching philosophy examples.
To convey your practical skills, share some of the key accomplishments in your career, or mention the times you really fostered a change.
“I’m a huge proponent of Bandura’s social learning theory and believe that kids are quick to learn by example and by following role models. That is why I try to maintain my integrity beyond the classroom and encourage others to do so. I have fostered a new bill at my school that prohibited other teachers from smoking on the premises and at nearby locations”.
Alternatively, you can focus on communicating the key values that you share and try to nurture among your students:
“To be an effective teacher, I proactively work with all kids within and beyond the classroom to help them:
- Learn to recognize and address various social bias and avoid transposing them on others (especially racial and religious bias)
- Become more tolerant and acceptable to different points of view and learn how to discuss, not judge someone.
- Cope with their emotions in a proper way and don’t be afraid to bring up their life experiences to the classroom.”
Step 3. Future-proof your statement
While you may not need to submit a new teaching philosophy statement every time you are changing jobs, you should still somewhat revise and customize it for every school.
Aaron Tombrella, head choir director for Hays Middle School proposes a new approach to doing so using the CRISIS formula:
- C — Capability. What are your capabilities, your students’ and your learning platforms’?
- R — Reliability. Is your software reliable as well as your plans?
- I — Inability. Is there something you are not able to do in this situation?
- S — Suitability. Are your plans suitable in the current situation?
- I — Ingenuity. How can you hold to your philosophy while being ingenuous?
- S — Sustainability. Can you do what you are doing in a sustainable way, on a long-term basis?
This quick formula can help you revise your statement and keep it up-to-date, especially during turbulent times.
A teaching philosophy statement is a document that helps you formalize and communicate your vision of being a teacher, share your belief, and tradecraft practices. Writing one for the first time may be challenging, but you now have a good formula, explaining just how you should approach writing!
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