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What Is Your Teaching Philosophy?

By Alison Doyle | Updated January 02, 2019

When you apply for a job as a teacher, you may be asked about your teaching philosophy.
This is not the sort of question you should fumble – you’ll look unprepared for the job if you
don’t have a ready answer.

Determining Your Teaching Philosophy


A teaching philosophy is an explanation of your values and beliefs as they relate to teaching.
Your philosophy is often a combination of methods you studied in college or graduate
school and lessons learned during any professional experience since then. It may also draw
upon your own experience of childhood education either as a parent or as a child yourself.

 Tip: If you don't know what your teaching philosophy is, try writing down a few
key statements you believe to be true about education, and then proceed from
there.

Think about the methods you apply in the classroom, and your goals for your students. Also
consider how you have put your ideas about education into action, and what principles are
demonstrated by your work in the classroom. What makes you proud to be a teacher? What
lets you know you’ve done a good job? What standards do you set for yourself and why?
Teaching styles and methods often change over a person’s career, so review your
philosophy from time to time, update it, and make changes when necessary.

Putting Teaching Philosophies into Words


1. Begin Simply
Begin with one or two sentences that neatly encapsulate your thinking.
For example:
 I believe the classroom is a living community and that everyone, from the principal
to the students to the parents, must contribute in order to maintain a positive
atmosphere.
 Everyone in the classroom contributes as a student, teacher, and thinker. I learn
from students as much as they learn from me.
 All students are individual and everyone learns in their own unique way.

Notice that all three examples could be part of the same philosophy – while they are
different, they nonetheless complement each other. That said, remember that you don’t
need to fit everything you believe about teaching into a single sentence. Draft a simple
statement that expresses the most central part of your ideas and priorities as a teacher. Let
the rest be implied.
2. Then elaborate
After giving your initial statement, you can elaborate on what your philosophy means in
practical terms.

For example:
 All students are individual and everyone learns in their own unique way. I use
multiple methods of teaching (linguistic, visual, auditory, kinesthetic) to reach
students, so that no one is left behind.
Notice that the elaboration makes the opening statement, as a whole, more specific. In the
example above, the idea that everyone learns in their own way could be taken to mean that
everyone learns at their own pace. There are indeed educational systems that are not
organized into grade levels and that allow students to move at different paces. But here the
elaboration makes clear that this teacher believes that effective teaching brings everybody
along together.
You can also make brief mention of educational theories or scientific studies that support
your philosophy, or you can refer to other educators who exemplify your philosophy. You
are trying to make it clear to your interviewers that you think carefully about how you teach
and are well-educated on educational practices.

3. Then Include an Example


You can also provide an example of how you apply your teaching philosophy in the
classroom. This will help make your philosophy even more concrete.
However, only do this if you have enough time. If you have already been speaking for a
couple of minutes, or if you feel that the interviewer wants to move on, you can skip this
part.

For example:
 Everyone in the classroom contributes as a student, teacher, and thinker. I learn
from students as much as they learn from me. One way I emphasize this philosophy
in my classes is to incorporate regular feedback from students. For example, I ask
students to fill out a mid-course evaluation of the class, in which they reflect on the
course goals and provide feedback on whether or not the course is helping them
meet these goals thus far. Students have been so insightful, providing useful
information for me on what is working in class, and what I can improve upon. I
believe we never stop learning, and I want my students to know we can learn from
each other.

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