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A teaching philosophy is a self-reflective statement of your beliefs about teaching and learning. In addition to general comments, your teaching philosophy should discuss how you put your beliefs into practice by including concrete examples of what you do or anticipate doing in the classroom.

Teaching philosophies are typically between one and four double-spaced pages but may be longer or shorter depending on your circumstances. They are written for two particular audiences. The first is search committees, since teaching philosophies are increasingly becoming part of the academic job search dossier. The second audience is yourself and your colleagues. In this case, the teaching philosophy serves a formative purpose — a document that helps you reflect on and improve your teaching.

Starting a teaching philosophy can be a difficult task, but it need not be. The steps outlined in this tutorial provide a structure for taking you through the drafting process step by step. Of course, there are as many different ways of writing teaching philosophies as there are writers. What we suggest here is one possible approach to drafting the essay. Feel free to deviate from this plan, skipping or adding steps to accommodate your personal writing style.

This tutorial follows a basic three-part process.

  1. You'll begin by generating ideas for your teaching philosophy based on your attitudes, values, and beliefs about teaching and learning.
  2. Next, you'll organize your ideas and create a working draft. You'll also check to make sure that you've illustrated your personal beliefs with specific examples of classroom practice that take into account disciplinary contexts and constants.
  3. Finally, you'll assess your first draft, comparing it to a rubric — a set of guidelines — for effective teaching philosophies. Your assessment should point the way toward gaps in the essay or areas that need to be reworked during subsequent revisions.

Keep in mind that the teaching philosophy is a document in progress. As your teaching changes and your professional identity grows, your teaching philosophy will also change and grow. So revisit it periodically and rewrite it as your beliefs and experiences progress and change.

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