University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources
http://www.umn.edu/ohr
612-625-2016

Creating Your Teaching Philosophy Draft

Two Ways of Organizing Your Draft

Now that you've written down your values, attitudes, and beliefs about teaching and learning, it's time to organize those thoughts into a coherent form. Perhaps the easiest way of organizing this material would be to write a paragraph covering each of the eight questions you answered in the previous activity: your concept of teaching, your concept of learning, your goals for students, etc. These would then become the eight major sections of your teaching philosphy.

Another way of knitting your reflections together—and one that is more personal—is to read through your notes and underscore ideas or observations that come up in more than one place. Think of these as "themes" that might point you toward an organizational structure for the essay.

For example, say you read through your notes and realize that you spend a good deal of time writing about your interest in mentoring students. This might become one of the three or four major foci of your teaching philosophy. You should then discuss what it says about your attitudes toward teaching, learning, what 's important in your discipline, etc.

Using Specific Examples

As noted previously, it's important that you provide concrete examples from your teaching practice to illustrate the general claims you make in your teaching philosophy. In most cases, initial drafts of teaching philosophies don't include enough specifics. The following general statements about teaching are intended as prompts to help you come up with examples to illustrate your claims about teaching.

Prompts for Adding Specific Examples to Your Draft

  • General Statement: "I value helping my students understand difficult information. I am an expert, and my role is to model for them complex ways of thinking so that they can develop the same habits of mind as professionals in the medical field."

    Given the statement above, how would you describe what happens in your classroom? Is your description specific enough to bring the scene to life in a teaching philosophy?

  • General Statement: "I enjoy lecturing, and I'm good at it. I always make an effort to engage and motivate my students when I lecture."

    Given the statement above, how would you describe what happens in your classroom? Is your description specific enough to bring the scene to life in a teaching philosophy?

  • General Statement: "It is crucial for students of geology to learn the techniques of field research. An important part of my job as a professor of geology is to provide these opportunities."

    Given the statement above, how would you describe what happens in your classroom? Is your description specific enough to bring the scene to life in a teaching philosophy?

  • General Statement: "I believe that beginning physics students should be introduced to the principles of hypothesis generation, experimentation, data collection, and analysis. By learning the scientific method, they develop critical thinking skills they can apply to other areas of their lives. Small group work is a crucial tool for teaching the scientific method."

    Given the statement above, how would you describe what happens in your classroom? Is your description specific enough to bring the scene to life in a teaching philosophy?

  • General Statement: "As a teacher of writing, I am committed to using peer review in my classes. By reading and commenting on other students' work in small cooperative groups, my students learn to find their voice, to understand the important connection between writer and audience, and to hone their editing skills. Small group work is indispensible in the writing classroom."

    Given the statement above, how would you describe what happens in your classroom? Is your description specific enough to bring the scene to life in a teaching philosophy?