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Why Write a Statement of Your Teaching Philosophy?

Why Write a Statement of Your Teaching Philosophy?

Why Write a Statement of Your Teaching Philosophy?
Teaching Philosophy Statement

Help me study for my Philosophy class. I’m stuck and don’t understand.


1.It should include your beliefs about human beings, society, the environment and nursing.
2.It should include the process by which you selected a nursing theorist for your philosophy, one whose philosophy closely matches your own.
3.It must stimulate critical thinking in students to provide enough information to “think like a nurse”.

A teaching philosophy statement is a written description of your values, goals, and beliefs regarding both teaching and learning… and uses evidence from your teaching to make the case that you have excelled as a teacher… As a general expression of your beliefs and practices, your teaching philosophy can shape your syllabi or introduce your course website.

Teaching Philosophy StatementTeaching philosophy statements are unique to each individual and reflect contextual factors such as the discipline, influential mentors, personal educational experiences, type of teaching (graduate vs. undergraduate, large vs. small classes etc.), and program-related teaching requirements (e.g. case-based learning), to mention a few.

Why Write a Statement of Your Teaching Philosophy?
A statement of your teaching philosophy is often a required or highly recommended part of a tenure dossier, so many instructors only develop teaching philosophy statements during the tenure submission process. However, this is not the only time a teaching philosophy statement is useful. Early in your career, it is very helpful to have gone through the process of reflecting about your own teaching, which gives you a better idea of your beliefs and strengths as an instructor and the ways in which you could develop your teaching practices over time. For instance, if you are a proponent of team-based learning, you could seek out new approaches to group learning that would make it a better/more effective learning experience for your students.

Another reason to have a teaching philosophy statement is that it is increasingly common to ask for such a statement as part of the application process for tenure track positions. As well, teaching philosophy statements are usually required for nominations for teaching awards, such as the 3M National Teaching Award.

Teaching Philosophy StatementDeveloping Your Teaching Philosophy Statement
If you seek a career as an academic, ideally you should begin to articulate your teaching philosophy in graduate school. The sooner you start thinking about your teaching philosophy, the easier it is to formulate a statement when you need it. Once you have articulated your beliefs and practices as an instructor, it is far easier to jot down relevant examples of your teaching strategies and successes as you go. Don’t leave it until the time when a polished teaching philosophy statement is needed.

Over the years, keep a file of

how you enact your teaching beliefs in your courses
how your thinking about your teaching practices has evolved
what you have done to change or enhance your teaching practices
what new innovations you have incorporated into your teaching.
With this file at hand, it will be a much easier job to pull together or revise your teaching philosophy statement, and include examples to illustrate how you translate your teaching philosophy into effective classroom practices that facilitate student learning.

Teaching Philosophy StatementGeneral Guidelines for your Teaching Philosophy Statement
Make your Teaching Statement brief and well written. While Teaching Statements are probably longer at the tenure level (i.e. 3-5 pages or more), for hiring purposes they are typically 1-2 pages in length.
Use a narrative, first-person approach. This allows the Teaching Statement to be both personal and reflective.
Make it specific rather than abstract. Ground your ideas in 1-2 concrete examples, whether experienced or anticipated. This will help the reader to better visualize you in the classroom.

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Teaching Philosophy StatementBe discipline-specific. Do not ignore your research. Explain how you advance your field through teaching.
Avoid jargon and technical terms, as they can be off-putting to some readers.
Try not to simply repeat what is in your CV. Teaching Statements are not exhaustive documents and should be used to complement other materials for the hiring or tenure processes.
Be sincere and unique. Avoid clichés, especially ones about how much passion you have for teaching.
Be humble. Mention students in an enthusiastic, not condescending way, and illustrate your willingness to learn from your students and colleagues.
Revise. Teaching is an evolving, reflective process, and Teaching Statements can be adapted and changed as necessary.
(List adapted from Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University)

Teaching Philosophy StatementIn addition to these guidelines, another valuable suggestion is to have your Teaching Philosophy statement reviewed by academic colleagues who may have other insights into what you could include in your statement. As well, you need to make sure that you are conforming to specific expectations (f there are any) from your Faculty or Department about what to include in your Teaching Philosophy statement. For example, according to The Teaching Dossier: A Guide for the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (pdf), the statement of teaching philosophy “may include, but not be limited to, discussion in each of the following:

your personal theory of learning (e.g., what happens inside students when they learn)
the goals for instruction (what should be learned)
the role(s) and responsibility(ies) of the student in this process
the role(s) of the instructor in this process
a description of the variables which promote learning
Components of Your Teaching Philosophy Statement
A statement of teaching philosophy is a flexible document, and can be successfully constructed in a number of different ways.

One way is to include descriptions of specific teaching strategies (e.g., a description of a particular assignment of class activity) alongside your teaching beliefs. Some instructors prefer to integrate these strategies into the philosophy statement; others prefer to describe them in a separate document (a “Statement of Teaching Practice”). Other common components of a statement of teaching philosophy include:

Teaching Philosophy Statementyour definition of good teaching, with an explanation of why you have developed or adopted this particular definition
a discussion of your teaching methods: how do you implement your definition of good teaching?
a discussion of your evaluation and assessment methods and a description of how they support your definition of good teaching
a description of your students, and their most important learning goals and challenges
a description of your teaching goals: with what content, skills, or values should students leave your classroom? What are your goals for improving your own teaching?

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