Faculty Focus Special Report Philosophy of Teaching Statements


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Faculty Focus Special Report Philosophy of Teaching Statements

  1. 1. Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement May 2009 A MAGNA PUBLICATION Effective Group Work Strategies for the College Classroom. • www.FacultyFocus.com
  2. 2. Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement For most educators, writing a philosophy of teaching statement is a daunting task. Sure they can motivate the most lackadaisical of students, juggle a seemingly endless list of re- sponsibilities, make theory and applications of gas chromatography come alive for students, all the while finding time to offer a few words of encouragement to a homesick freshman. But articulating their teaching philosophy? It’s enough to give even English pro- fessors a case of writer’s block. Traditionally part of the teaching portfolio in the tenure review process, an increasing number of higher education institutions are now requiring a philosophy of teaching statement from job applicants as well. For beginning instructors, putting their philosophy into words is particularly challenging. For one thing they aren’t even sure they have a phi- losophy yet. Then there’s the added pressure of writing one that’s good enough to help them land their first teaching job. This Faculty Focus special report is designed to take the mystery out of writing teaching philosophy statements, and includes both examples and how-to articles written by educators from various disciplines and at various stages of their professional careers. Some of the articles you will find in the report include: • How to Write a Philosophy of Teaching and Learning Statement • A Teaching Philosophy Built on Knowledge, Critical Thinking and Curiosity • My Teaching Philosophy: A Dynamic Interaction Between Pedagogy and Personality • Writing the “Syllabus Version” of Your Philosophy of Teaching • My Philosophy of Teaching: Make Learning Fun As contributor Adam Chapnick writes, “There is no style that suits everyone, but there is almost certainly one that will make you more comfortable. And while there is no measur- able way to know when you have got it ‘right,’ in my experience, you will know it when you see it!” Mary Bart Content Manager Faculty Focus Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 2
  3. 3. Table of Contents How to Write a Philosophy of Teaching and Learning Statement ................................................................................4 A Teaching Philosophy Built on Knowledge, Critical Thinking and Curiosity ............................................................5 My Teaching Philosophy: A Dynamic Interaction Between Pedagogy and Personality ................................................6 Teaching Philosophy and Assumptions ......................................................................................................................8 Writing the “Syllabus Version” of Your Philosophy of Teaching ..................................................................................9 Education as Becoming: A Philosophy of Teaching ....................................................................................................11 A Nurse Educator’s Philosophy of Teaching ..............................................................................................................12 Teaching and Advising Philosophy and Style ............................................................................................................13 My Teaching Philosophy: Make Learning Fun ..........................................................................................................15 Teaching Philosophy Statements Prepared by Faculty Candidates ..............................................................................16 Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement: Why, What and How ..............................................................................17 Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 3
  4. 4. Again, neither approach is inher- How to Write a Philosophy of ently superior: the key is to find the one that better reflects who you are Teaching and Learning Statement and what you believe in. Teachers whose greatest pleasure comes from inspiring their students’ creative abilities are more likely to present their philosophy in a less structured By Adam Chapnick, PhD manner. Just like they encourage their students not to feel constricted by popular standards or expectations, their prose should flow freely and riting a philosophy of Neither approach is necessarily W teaching and learning statement isn’t meant to be easy. Self-reflection can be awkward, better, but one of them generally suits each teacher more than the other. Single-discipline instructors, for naturally. Other teachers, whose excellence is based on their organizational abilities, their clarity inside and outside of the and the teaching and learning envi- example, are more likely to think classroom, and the transparency of ronment evokes feelings and emotions about teaching and learning in the their attitudes and beliefs, often prefer that don’t necessarily translate well context of their field. Teachers whose the uniformity and imposed discipline into words. Nevertheless, creating a work crosses traditional academic of a series of bulleted or numbered philosophy of teaching and learning boundaries more regularly, or who thoughts and ideas. statement is ultimately both person- combine theoretical study with public Regardless, an effective philosophy ally and professionally rewarding, and policy analysis, might be more apt to of teaching and learning should aim is therefore well worth the effort. take a broader view. to answer the following questions: Expressing your philosophy of Having determined which approach • why do I teach? teaching and learning in print serves fits you best, the next issue to • what does good teaching mean to two main purposes: consider is style. Teaching and me? 1.It presents a capsule summary of learning philosophies generally come • what does effective learning mean your understanding of the value in two forms: to me? and purpose of teaching and 1.Some are constructed as a series • do I have a particular teaching learning to current and prospec- of personal paragraphs, drawing style or approach? If so, how tive employers, students, and col- attention to the teacher’s own would I describe it? leagues; and thoughts, feelings, knowledge, • what makes me unique as a 2.It encourages deep self-reflection and values. They tend to include teacher? that in turn enhances your ability personal anecdotes and examples, • what do I expect from my to contribute positively to your and are inevitably written in the students? learning community. first person. This style is the • what can my students expect more common of the two, partic- from me? Statements generally proceed in one ularly in subject-specific state- • what do I do to continue to of two directions. They are either: ments. improve? • subject- or discipline-specific (a 2.Other teachers write more philosophy of teaching history or formally, listing – perhaps These questions are in no particular of teaching physics), and focused through a series of bullets – a set order, and are not exclusive. Subject on practical, specialized strate- of ideas and opinions that form specific teaching philosophies, for gies; or the basis of the author’s under- example, will almost certainly answer • broader statements of general standing of the teaching and additional questions such as: aims and ideas, focused more on learning process. This approach • why am I so passionate about my your students themselves than on will likely resonate more in task- discipline? what they’re learning in the oriented disciplines and individu- • what strategies make teaching classroom. als who tend to emphasize accuracy and specificity. PAGE 5 Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 4
  5. 5. FROM PAGE 4 words but, ideally, you should aim to Similarly, some find it easier to develop a version that can fit on a develop two entirely separate state- and learning in my discipline single page. Keeping in mind that one ments: come to life? of the purposes of creating a • one that is discipline-specific; and • how do effective teaching and statement of teaching and learning • another that is broader and learning in my discipline con- philosophy is to explain yourself to a perhaps more abstract. tribute to society? prospective employer, it makes sense to have an iteration of your statement There is no style that suits Most 21st century teaching philoso- that adheres to the same basic rules everyone, but there is almost certainly phies will also at least mention the as the standard resume (1 or 2 pages, one that will make you more comfort- author’s approach to diversity in the depending on your degree of special- able. And while there is no measura- classroom (defined broadly or ization or expertise). ble way to know when you have got it narrowly) as well as the role of It is therefore fairly common for ‘right,’ in my experience, you will academic technology in the teaching aspiring teachers to create two know it when you see it! and learning process. In the contem- versions of their philosophies: porary educational environment, it is • one that is as long as it takes for Dr. Adam Chapnick is an assistant difficult to imagine a classroom – real them to express themselves com- professor and deputy director of or virtual – that does not have to take fortably; and education at Canadian Forces College. these two factors into consideration. • another that can be included in G The standard length of a teaching applications that stipulate word and learning philosophy is 250-750 and space limitations. A Teaching Philosophy Built on Knowledge, Critical Thinking and Curiosity By Susan Judd Casciani believe that success – whether transferring a fundamental knowledge I will demonstrate my own critical I personal or professional – is generated from three critical building blocks: knowledge, critical of course content to students while cultivating their critical thinking skills through the application of theory and thinking skills and share my curiosity for the unexplained or unexamined. I will value the individual backgrounds thinking, and curiosity. These concepts to current health-, economic- and experiences of my students, and building blocks have an enduring, , and industry-related issues. encourage them to teach me as I cyclical relationship; knowledge helps Through this application, areas that teach them. us to understand the world around us are void of knowledge will ultimately I expect that my students will have as well as ourselves, critical thinking emerge. As a teacher, I will strive to a variety of levels of desire for gives us the ability to incorporate instill a sense of curiosity in my learning. I will strive to nurture an knowledge and apply it endlessly, and students that will challenge them to environment that will encourage them curiosity, which is the result of fill this void, whether for themselves to seek areas that excite them, for I realizing the limitations of current or for all of us. I will do this by believe that true learning occurs best knowledge, drives us to acquire addi- serving as a role model in the sense when it is most meaningful. I will tional knowledge. that I too am searching for knowledge expect my students to understand and I see my role as a teacher as one of – for me, for them and for the future. PAGE 6 Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 5
  6. 6. FROM PAGE 5 provide requisite knowledge, Susan Judd Casciani is a clinical encourage and develop critical assistant professor and program utilize their rights for a quality thinking skills, and stimulate natural director of the Health Care education, and to fulfill their responsi- curiosity that will guide students in Management Program at Towson bilities to themselves, to me and to their efforts of pursuing success. By University. G each other in our collective efforts to accomplishing this, I will satisfy the learn and discover. need within myself to somehow make My ultimate goal in teaching is to a difference. My Teaching Philosophy: A Dynamic Interaction Between Pedagogy and Personality By B. Jean Mandernach, PhD y philosophy of teaching sizes a cognitive developmental per- course and related courses, I have M can better be described as a philosophy of learning. In order to be an effective instructor, I spective. As highlighted by develop- mental theorists, students learn best by actively exploring their environ- three overarching goals for any course that I teach: 1) to foster critical thinking so that students may must focus on student learning and ments. This type of “trial-and-error” become effective consumers of psy- adjust my teaching strategies in learning can then be fostered by chological information, 2) to promote response to the pace and depth of having a support structure in place to mastery of course content, and 3) to student understanding. I view facilitate understanding. The self- encourage application of course teaching as an interaction between an paced nature of exploratory learning materials to real-world contexts. instructor and a student; thus, the relies on the notion that effective Since most students, including psy- impact of this interaction on learning, learning environments actively chology majors, will not become psy- rather than my activities as an in- engage students with the material chologists, it is important to teach structor, is of primary importance. and promote meaningful associations students information that is relevant Approaching teaching as a scholarly between new material and informa- to their lives and their futures. The activity with continual evaluations tion already known. As an instructor, media is full of psychologically-based and adjustments allows me to it is my responsibility to help information; my goal as a psychology maintain a focus on student learning students generate their own context instructor is to teach students how to and continually improve my instruc- for meaning through the application critically examine this information, tion. By utilizing flexible teaching of new material to their everyday make decisions about its strategies, rather than strict lives. accuracy/relevance, and utilize the adherence to a particular teaching Reflecting upon the dynamic inter- information in their own lives. For style, I am able to adjust my instruc- action between pedagogy and person- example, after a recent university tion to match the abilities and preex- ality, my teaching style is best shooting rampage, my Introductory isting knowledge that each student described as applied, mastery instruc- Psychology class spent a considerable brings to the classroom. Thus, my tion. While the specific learning goals amount of time locating information primary role as an instructor is to of a course are dependent upon the (TV, magazines, newspapers, create interactions which foster nature of the course, the education websites, etc.) about the shootings interest and understanding for indi- level of the students, the purpose of and examining how this event, and vidual students. the course within the department, PAGE 7 This approach to learning empha- and the relationship between the Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 6
  7. 7. FROM PAGE 6 critical thinking, it is important to in- In addition to providing preparation corporate a variety of specific materials, testing is also administered the information surrounding it, can teaching strategies that help direct via the web. The web-based format be interpreted in light of psychologi- the learning process yet allow allows students to easily review past cal theories (parenting styles, adoles- students the freedom of active tests and study questions. I also like cent development, group decision learning. Advances in instructional to use web-based discussion threads making, stereotypes, personality, technology have allowed me to move to promote critical thinking and inter- stress, etc.). This type of active, many of the basic instructional tasks active learning. Through discussion applied learning has several advan- out of the classroom so that valuable threads, students (or the instructor) tages: 1) it allows students to actively class time is available for more inte- can pose questions/comments to engage with the material which grated, applied learning. Specifically, which others can respond. While promotes general interest in psychol- I use web-based resources in order to these web-based resources do not ogy; 2) it assists students in develop- administer study questions prior to provide any unique teaching opportu- ing critical thinking skills; 3) it nity that cannot be imitated in the promotes a deeper understanding of classroom, they allow many activities how theories are utilized in a real- to be completed outside of regular world context; and 4) it enhances class time so that limited class time retention of material through active can be dedicated to more advanced processing and the interrelationship I feel that as an instructor, it is activities. Further, web-based of information. resources are invaluable for connect- My second broad goal as an in- my responsibility to determine ing the instructor to individual structor is to promote mastery of the students in a large lecture class. course material. While there is a con- exactly what I expect students Students who would not voice siderable amount of research con- to understand after completing questions in a large lecture setting cerning the educational benefits of may be more likely to express mastery instruction, mastery learning my course, then to facilitate concerns via email or participation in is not often utilized due to the an online discussion. increased time and effort required for student learning so that every In summary, teaching at this level this type of instruction. I feel that as puts me in the unique position of an instructor, it is my responsibility student reaches this level. working with college students who to determine exactly what I expect are in the last stage of their formal students to understand after complet- education. Thus, before they venture ing my course, then to facilitate into the “real world,” my goal is to student learning so that every student ensure students have a basic under- reaches this level. This perspective class and provide tutorials/discussion standing of psychological concepts implies that I can articulate my questions. In this way, students can and theories so that they may apply specific learning goals, develop as- use study questions to ensure that this information to their own lives sessments that effectively measure they understand (and have and become effective, critical these goals, and have a support completed) the readings, and I can consumers of psychological structure in place to help students use the results of the study questions information. reach this level of understanding. In to identify aspects of the readings addition, mastery learning requires that students are having difficulties B. Jean Mandernach is an flexibility in instruction as different with. I can then tailor class time to associate professor of psychology and students will master the material at target areas of confusion and spend research associate for the Center for different rates, and different students less time reviewing easily understood Excellence in Teaching and Learning will require different types of assis- topics. Providing the discussion at Park University. G tance (examples, demonstrations, ac- questions in advance via the web tivities, case studies, etc.) to foster allows students to think more in- learning. depth about selected topics and to be In order to create a classroom that prepared to actively participate in promotes mastery, application, and class discussions. Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 7
  8. 8. 6.Effective teaching requires flexibil- Teaching Philosophy and ity. Teachers must try to make themselves available to meet Assumptions with students and explore their concerns both inside and outside of the classroom. Students are more likely to require assistance when assignments are due, and By Adam Chapnick, PhD teachers should endeavor as best they can to schedule academic and personal commitments accordingly. eaching combines knowledge, and assessment. They develop T skill, passion, and compassion. I believe: lessons and evaluate student progress with the diversity of student learning styles and back- 7.Teaching can always be improved. Professional develop- ment – remaining abreast of ped- 1.Students are people. They are grounds in mind. agogical advancements in the proud, confident, eager to learn, field, taking advantage of but also insecure. They respond 5.Students learn best when they are changes in academic technology, to people who make them feel aware of not only what is promoting the importance of listened to and respected; people required of them, but also what is teaching in the community, and who challenge them and inspire fair to require from their teachers. maintaining a research program them to question; people who which expands the depth and reward their successes and breadth of knowledge of the encourage them to improve. Preparation and enthusiasm teaching subject matter – is crucial to an instructor’s long 2.Teachers are role models both in are cornerstones of effective term effectiveness. Academic the classroom and in the community. Students look up to teaching. They are colleagues, teaching assistants, and student evaluations are all teachers whom they respect, and good teachers take pride in contagious and inspire invaluable sources of assistance. learning from their students. success. Successful teachers Dr. Adam Chapnick is an assistant professor and deputy director of 3.Preparation and enthusiasm are are committed and dedicated education at Canadian Forces cornerstones of effective teaching. to improving themselves and College. G They are contagious and inspire success. Successful teachers are committed and dedicated to their students. improving themselves and their students. Just as students must meet strict 4.Good teachers always try to be analytical and temporal expecta- fair. They do not ask from their tions, teachers should mark thor- students that which they would oughly and return assignments not ask from themselves. They promptly. Feedback should be communicate high, yet realistic detailed, and means of improve- and achievable expectations, and ment should be outlined specifi- then encourage students to over- cally. Students should be achieve. They recognize that congratulated for their achieve- students learn in different ways ments, and shown how to learn and respond differently to a from their mistakes. variety of forms of instruction Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 8
  9. 9. classes. Despite the fact that you typically don’t craft your Writing the “Syllabus philosophy of teaching with a student audience in mind, there is value in creating a modified, “syllabus version,” of Version” of Your your teaching philosophy. In contrast to the one-to-two page, theoretically-driven, fully-justified, rationally-supported philosophy of teaching Philosophy of Teaching that is geared toward your academic peers, the “syllabus version” of your teaching philosophy is a condensed de- scription that highlights the key components of your personal philosophy with a particular emphasis on the im- By B. Jean Mandernach, PhD plications of your philosophy for your students. Students don’t need- or want- to know the evolution of your concep- tualization of teaching, nor are they highly invested in un- derstanding the nuances of why you select particular very teacher has a philosophy of teaching…whether E instructional strategies or the theoretical underpinnings of they know it or not. Simply put, a philosophy of your pedagogical endeavors. Rather, they need to know teaching is your conceptualization of the teaching your perspective on your role as the teacher and how this and learning process. While some people have very explicit translates into your expectations for your students. and clear teaching philosophies, others have invested less With this in mind, how do you modify your philosophy of time in formulating a concrete picture of their position on teaching for inclusion in the syllabus? the teaching-learning dynamic. 1) Start by crafting your “complete” philosophy of teaching. There are a number of ways to go about conceptualiz- ing and creating your personal philosophy of teaching; Despite the fact that you typically don’t craft see Chism (1998) or Goodyear and Allchin (1998) for popular models. In addition, the Internet is filled with your philosophy of teaching with a student guidelines and recommendations for writing an audience in mind, there is value in creating a effective philosophy of teaching; see • http://ftad.osu.edu/portfolio/philosophy/ modified, “syllabus version,” of your teaching Philosophy.html, • http://www.cofc.edu/~cetl/Essays/ philosophy. DevelopingaPhilosophyofTeaching.html, • http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2003/03/ 2003032702c.htm, There are many reasons to articulate your philosophy of • http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/ teaching, some reasons driven by external requirements philosophy.html or and others by the personal or pedagogical value inherent in • http://www.lll.hawaii.edu/sltcc/tipps/ reflecting on your approach to teaching. You may be asked philosophy.html for detailed information about how to to prepare your teaching philosophy as a component of write a teaching philosophy- and what to avoid when your application for an academic position, as supportive doing so. documentation in your portfolio for promotion/tenure con- 2) Reflect on your philosophy by asking yourself “What sideration, or as a portion of an application for teaching does this mean for my students?” As you review your awards/grants (Montell, 2003). Alternatively, you may elect teaching philosophy, focus on the implications for to articulate your philosophy of teaching as a reflective students. In three or four sentences, summarize the key activity to clarify your role as a teacher, examine the rela- components of your philosophy as it applies to your tionship between your theoretical approach to teaching and classroom and/or the expected interactions between your classroom practices, or highlight personal instructional you and your students. In essence, the “syllabus and educational goals (Brookfield, 1990; Goodyear & version” of your philosophy of teaching starts by ex- Allchin, 1998). plaining to the students your general view on But, beyond personal insight or academic requirements, teaching/learning and your rationale for structuring there is another reason – an equally, if not more, important their educational experience in the manner that you do. reason – to articulate your philosophy of teaching: to PAGE 10 provide guidance and direction to the students in your Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 9
  10. 10. Chism, N. V. N. (1998). Developing a philosophy of FROM PAGE 9 teaching statement. Essays on Teaching Excellence 9 (3), 3) Clearly define your role in the classroom and the 1-2. Professional and Organizational Development Network learning process. In one or two sentences, define for in Higher Education. your students how you will approach learning activi- Goodyear, G. E. & Allchin, D. (1998) Statement of ties and what behaviors they can expect from you in teaching philosophy. To Improve the Academy 17, 103-22. relation to your philosophy. Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press. 4) Highlight your expectations for your students in Montell, G. (2003, March 27). What's Your Philosophy relation to your philosophy of teaching. In one or two on Teaching, and Does it Matter? Chronicle of Higher sentences, describe the behaviors you expect from Education. Retrieved February 26, 2009 from your students as it relates to your approach to their ed- http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2003/03/ ucational experience. Be concrete and explicit so that 2003032701c.htm. your expectations serve as a guide to direct student activity in the course. B. Jean Mandernach is an associate professor of psychol- The key in crafting the “syllabus version” of your philos- ogy and research associate for the Center for Excellence in ophy is not to try to capture or convey the complexities Teaching and Learning at Park University. G surrounding your philosophy of the teaching-learning in- teraction. Rather, you should strive to maintain a student focus and integrate only the aspects of your philosophy Student-centered Statement of Teaching that are central for the learner. With this in mind, keep the Philosophy following considerations in mind when adapting your phi- losophy of teaching for inclusion in the syllabus: y philosophy of teaching can better be • Be brief, clear, and concise. Students cannot benefit from a teaching philosophy that they do not read or that they do not understand. M described as a philosophy of learning. So, what does this mean for you? I consider this course to be an equal collaboration between you and • Utilize student-centered language. Write the “syllabus me. As such, it is my responsibility to be an effective version” of your teaching philosophy in a manner that instructor; this means that it is my job to monitor talks to the student rather than about them. your learning and adjust my teaching strategies in • Avoid using pedagogical jargon. Again, students can’t response to the pace and depth of your understand- benefit from a philosophy that they don’t understand; ing. But as, with all successful collaborations, my in- utilize language relevant to the student population. volvement is only half of the equation; in order for • Adjust the “syllabus version” to be relevant to each this to be a valuable educational experience, you class. While your philosophy of teaching is stable, must be an effective student. What you will gain from your expectations of students in relation to your phi- this course depends upon your investment in losophy may change according to class level, course learning. Learning relies upon the interaction between content or student characteristics; it is important to you, me and the course material; thus, it is your in- adjust the “syllabus version” of your teaching philoso- vestment in this interaction that will drive your phy accordingly. mastery of course material. As we progress through this course, I will utilize a Because teaching philosophies are often composed to range of instructional strategies to target the abilities meet institutional requirements for tenure and promotion, and preexisting knowledge that each of you brings to or as part of the job search process, they rarely reflect a the classroom. I will strive to create interactions student audience. Revising your teaching philosophy into a which foster interest and understanding for each of “syllabus version” is an ideal way to test our theory-driven you. In exchange, I expect you to invest full effort in proclamations about teaching against the realities of all learning activities, engage in the course material classroom teaching. [Editor’s note: see sidebar for an and apply yourself to a deeper understanding of example of a syllabus version.] course material. G References: Brookfield, S. (1990). The skillful teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 10
  11. 11. simple: be accessible to students and Education as Becoming: treat them with respect. Accessibility means being available not just during class and office hours, but at any rea- A Philosophy of Teaching sonable time. I encourage them to call me at home, and I promise them a response to email messages within 24 hours. By Ralph S. Stevens III, PhD As important as being accessible is being respectful. I make it a principle to avoid anything sarcastic, disparag- ing or condescending in my communi- n a lecture in my world literature horrible and disgust at the disgusting, I courses I talk to my students about why we read literature. These students are not taking the course pleasure at the pleasing and joy at things that are good. This is why we read literature, I tell cation, and to be always courteous and encouraging. It is the best way to “lead out” the best in a person. Good communication is the founda- because they want to read Homer and them. We read to develop the imagina- tion of instruction. Instruction itself is Sophocles. They are taking it because tion, so as to recognize the nature of student-centered. I once heard an ex- we tell them they have to. World lit is things and people. We read to develop perienced teacher say that learning a degree requirement. But why do we the affections, in learning to respond begins with questions and “there is require it? to what we imagine. A work of litera- knowledge in the room.” No one My answer is based on a distinction ture invites us to enter and imagine a comes to a lesson without some between education and training. world both strange and familiar. My knowledge, and students who ask Training, I say, is learning to do. students have never known the char- questions already have some grasp of Education is learning to become. Both acters, or been to the places, they read what they are trying to learn. I try to are important, and each is part of about. They don’t know what it’s like include in my each assignment what we call “a college education.” to be an epic hero like Odysseus. The something that will elicit knowledge Together they are what I think of as world of the Trojan War is a strange and questions. When introducing a teaching. one. But they can imagine what it new work of literature, for example, I I am training my students when I would be like for a man to stand alone ask students to discuss what it was teach them how to do things like on a strange island, as Odysseus does like for them to read that work. I use unpack a metaphor or identify the at the nadir of his adventures, threaded discussions in our course climax in the plot of a Greek tragedy; pleading for hospitality from a teenage platform, Blackboard, and make active showing them how to use secondary girl doing her laundry with her participation a third of the course sources in a documented essay, or friends. grade, with high standards for partici- how to resolve a paradox in a meta- This is education, the act of pation. I participate and am able to physical poem. Successful teaching becoming whole people by developing see, from students’ posts, what they results in students being able to do the affections and the imagination. It know (“there is knowledge in the such things. is the other part of teaching. But room”) and what their questions are Education is different. I point out training and education, are not (“learning begins with questions”). that the word “education” comes from separate. Teaching as training brings What I learn from discussions then the Latin e-ducere, meaning “to lead me into contact with, not a machine informs what I present in my lectures. out” and I say that for me this means to be programmed to do certain In these ways and others, I make the leading out the best in a student. Here, things, but that whole person who is student, rather than the subject teaching means exciting the affections the concern of education. My teaching matter, the center of my teaching. The and the imagination. It means leading to do can be conducted so as to be extent to which these methods out of a student not her inherent learning to become, appealing to the succeed is the extent to which I can ability to do something—that’s best in each of my students. educate, leading out the best in my training—but her capacity to respond But how? I begin with communica- students. to something so as to know the value tion as the foundation of good it has, for her, for her community. teaching, because through effective Ralph S. Stevens III, Ph.D. is an Education, by this definition, “leads communication I can reach the whole associate professor of English at out” the ability to feel horror at the person. The principles I follow are Coppin State University. G Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 11
  12. 12. ically analyze their actions, reflect on A Nurse Educator’s Philosophy their own skill sets, and critique the clinical decisions of others (Jeffries, of Teaching 2007). Learning from these methods are evaluated using multiple choice tests, debriefing, discussion and ob- servation. My teaching philosophy is in its By Frostenia Milner infancy. I will use humor to engage my students and include their feedback as I continue to learn and grow, for I want to live this ….we learn from one another how survival with ever changing technolo- philosophy. to be human by identifying ourselves gies and therapies. My teaching with others, finding their dilemmas in methods incorporate argument Frostenia Milner is clinical coordina- ourselves. What we all learn from it is mapping to develop clarity of tor at the School of Nursing, North self-knowledge. The self we learn Carolina A&T State University. G about …is every self. IT is universal - the human self. We learn to recognize ourselves in others… (It) keeps alive I believe that education is a our common humanity and avoids reducing self or other to the moral two-way proposition. The status of object (Watson, 1985/1988, student's part of the pp. 59-60). proposition is to come to am a novice to baccalaureate I nursing education. My goal is to participate in preparing nursing students to practice as generalist class prepared to learn and my part is to create an within the health care social environ- interactive environment that ment. It is my responsibility to create a student-centered classroom that engages the student in the fosters the practice of critical thinking, the development of clinical learning process in and out thinking, and life-long learning. The classroom is where caring in nursing of the classroom. is role modeled for the student. Caring is demonstrated when there is acknowledgment that students come reasoning based on supporting to the classroom with a variety of ed- evidence and to come to a conclu- ucational experiences, cultural back- sion, which in the case of nursing is grounds, and learning styles. I believe the most appropriate clinical decision that education is a two-way proposi- (Billings, 2008). Through this guided tion. The student's part of the propo- process the content to be taught is sition is to come to class prepared to discovered as the student works learn and my part is to create an in- through the problem. I use problem- teractive environment that engages based learning which is a well estab- the student in the learning process in lished strategy for developing critical and out of the classroom. thinking (Rogal and Snider, 2008). Nursing is a dynamic discipline. Case studies are used to simulate ex- Life-long learning is integral to periences allowing the student to crit- Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 12
  13. 13. For me to be a complete teaching Teaching and Advising professional, I must offer time for a conversation in the hall. I need to be Philosophy and Style in the classroom before class begins and stick around after class is over. My office door needs to be open, with me inside as much as possible for students to stop by or call for my By W. Stephen Damron help, advice or whatever they need. I owe them the time to read a resume and offer constructive comments. I owe them the time to discuss career or me, the most important part I try to read the level of understand- F of teaching, advising, and mentoring students is caring. It all begins with caring for students ing they are achieving from my expla- nations and make adjustments or even start over if necessary. Listening alternatives they may be wrestling with, or personal problems they may bring to me. I owe my students the time necessary to write the best and what becomes of them. They are lectures my skills will allow. I owe real people. They have needs and them the time required to write a wants, strengths and weaknesses, good, thoughtful, honest letter of rec- likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams. I have discovered through ommendation when they ask. I also I am part of the hopes and dreams owe them time in thought, thinking because I help them with the the years that a very about how I might do my job better education that they have factored into their futures. That leap-of-faith important thing I can do for and serve them more effectively. Good teaching is time consuming. on their part vests me with enormous my students (and myself) is I have discovered through the years interest in what becomes of them. It that a very important thing I can do makes me a better person, a better to share the real me, warts for my students (and myself) is to teacher, and a better mentor. As long share the real me, warts and all, with as caring is there, I find I can dislike and all, with them. How can them. Part of the reason for this is them, be angry with them, hurt by that I feel they deserve to relate to a them, perplexed, exasperated, put I expect them to be honest person genuinely willing to expose out, or just generally disgruntled with with me unless I am willing his feelings, values, and a distinctive them and still teach them. What I do viewpoint about his society and the not feel I could ever do is be indiffer- to be honest with them? world. The other less noble reason is ent to them and still be effective. that students recognize when I try to Besides, caring for them has its fake it. How can I expect them to be perks. I find that when I care they honest with me unless I am willing to care back, and I like that. is especially important in advising. be honest with them? What my Listening is next to caring. The Good advising depends on hearing students get is the real me. I never try people I presume to teach deserve my what the advisee says, and to hide a bad mood, or the fact that ear above all others except my wife sometimes what isn’t being said as they’ve angered me, or hurt me, or and children. Even if that were not well. It depends on asking the right failed to meet my expectations. If I so, I simply could not teach without questions and patience to wait for the am insecure about a lecture or class listening. The success of my real answer, not just the one that activity, I don’t try and fake it. I tell classroom style depends on feedback comes out first. Good listening also them. I find they are more than during class, after class, and on eval- requires thinking about what I’ve willing to forgive me a commonplace uations. Practicing a listening attitude heard before responding to it. lecture or activity if I don’t press on is essential or that feedback will not As in so much of life, time on task as if it were good. Similarly, I tell happen in a way that helps us. is required. I owe my students my them if I feel they did a good job on Listening also means listening to the time, which includes time spent with non-verbal responses from the group. them and time spent on their behalf. PAGE 14 Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 13
  14. 14. FROM PAGE 13 should feel empowered by the respect room come alive with excitement and honesty with which I deal with over the topic by the simple willing- an exam or if they especially pleased them during the disagreement. ness to share her own enthusiasm. It me in a day’s discussion session. I Learning is serious business and I occurred to me that not only were the am human too and they need to do my best to convey that attitude intricacies of the topic at hand indeed know that. There is freedom in just with my actions. I establish policies interesting but so was the entire topic being me that helps teaching and in my class that I feel actively of mineral nutrition. My enthusiasm learning to happen. There is an promote responsibility and I run a for the topic persists to this day. honesty that becomes a part of one- tight ship in my classroom. My What a gift! I try to give others that on-one relationships that can be students and I have such little time same gift. achieved no other way. As a teacher, it is my job to I owe it to my students to challenge stimulate and encourage thinking them. That commitment is rooted rather than to provide answers and deeply in my own experiences. As my As a teacher, it is my job to resolve problems. It is my obligation life has progressed, I have become in- to give students professional compe- creasingly aware that the people who stimulate and encourage tency, energy, demand of excellence, have held me to higher standards are and fair treatment. It is my job to the ones I hold in increasingly higher thinking rather than to touch lives and challenge them to regard. In my own teaching, I prefer learn how to use their inherent capa- respect in the long term than to provide answers and resolve bilities and their knowledge base to always have their fond regard in the problems. resolve problems for themselves. To short term, and thus I challenge do this, I have to ask questions they them. If there is one thing that prac- must work hard to answer. The great ticing this craft has taught me, it is pay off in that is when they ask that I rarely get more by asking for together that there is no time to questions I must work hard to less. Thus, my courses are rigorous waste with disruptive behaviors or answer. and demanding. I consider myself a busy work. However, learning is best I am not a man of many or varied lifelong learner and promote that accomplished when enjoyed, so I causes. I simply believe that the only attitude with my students. People keep my classroom atmosphere light hope for mankind and our world is need to learn the value of reading, with humor and by encouraging for as many of us as possible to know writing, and reflective thought. They student participation. I also explain as much as possible about that world also need to practice. I provide op- the rules up front and stick to them. I and ourselves. Helping with the portunities. I feel that is a responsibil- have found that I can ask and receive knowing is what I do. I teach. ity to them, my colleagues, and to a great deal from students if I am society. open, fair in what I expect, and W. Stephen Damron is a professor I hope I leave my students stronger equitable in my treatment of them. and teaching coordinator in the after they interact with me. Students I try always to convey a sense of Animal Science Department at should leave my class with the basis wonder and adventure about Oklahoma State University. G for a new perspective or with a learning. When I was in graduate question to mull or a curiosity to school, I took Mineral Nutrition from satisfy. An advisee should leave my Dr. Jane Savage. Mineral nutrition office with confidence that together had never been one of my favorite we are charting the path he/she topics until then. One day while wants, or at least making progress reviewing a journal article in class Dr. toward finding a path. A student Savage commented, “I think this is so looking for a new major should feel interesting!” Earth shaking commen- he/she has an honest and fairly tary it was not. Yet, I will never forget presented picture of my discipline that statement or that wonderful lady and thus be enabled to make such an and teacher. It was not what she said important decision. Even a student but the fact that we all knew she with whom I am in disagreement meant what she said. She made the Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 14
  15. 15. dynamic confident speakers when My Teaching Philosophy: they have named behaviors to perform. The focus is on a concept, Make Learning Fun behaviors to fulfill the concept, and the experience of executing the concept, with its simple keywords, in various situations. Focusing on holistic/atomistic goal setting and By David E. E. Sloane, PhD achievement is also a skill that gener- alizes to all areas of life–which is what I urge them to remember. By y teaching philosophy is drill exercise, and "own" them ab- the end of the course, each student M that all learning experiences should be fun and exciting, and if they aren't, the teaching solutely. I build larger skills and concepts around keywords. I ask my students can provide six holistic concepts organized into 40-50 or more atomistic behaviors and tell which ones they will use, and why. Giving modality needs to seek and adapt to chant them when we review the new strategies, whether game material, and I ask a random student students de-mystified behaviors at playing, behaviors, model test cases, to explain one or another–always the center of the course gives them so or lecture-discussion combinations simply, always citing simple much to do positively and actively that shake up the lecture model. behaviors. By the end of a given that they don't have time for stage Then, the learning process should be course in Business Writing, Technical fright or other negatives. narrowed down to specific behaviors Writing, or Advanced Public It's fair to ask if this can be gener- which can be demystified, easily Speaking, students have explained alized. Yes. Students use a book and practiced, easily replicated, and, at and chanted many times. The drilling index cards. First, they bring three base, subject to easy memorization is fun, as well, because they can cards with a sentence from the around key words. I have organized shout. Yes, I have a noisy classroom, reading. Any sentence is correct! This an online Mark Twain course around but they remember the associated is process. The next day I ask another four words beginning with E, for skills and techniques, and they have student to explain the first student's example. Everybody starts from the to say them until they can say them sentence. I look for volunteers, then I same reference point to document, il- with assurance. Learning gets to be a ask fail-safe questions to model the lustrate, or argue. little like cheerleading. It works for explanation behavior. Everyone’s My classroom is a nutty place, es- them, so it works for me. sense of idea-sentences grows. pecially in the speaking and writing My biggest target is students Building through a course like this, courses I am thinking about here. achieving both holistic organization students amass hundreds of index Every nutty thing I do is intended to and behavioral mastery of the cards; they are allowed to use them help students recall the connected atomistic individual skills. An on tests. The reward is attractive. It ideas or behaviors. I circulate a candy example from a speaking course highly motivates especially those bowl while I’m talking; chocolate is might be helpful. The course is built students who are "lost" but yearning an added retrieval cue, and a real at- around six rules. Rule 1 is "Control for a key to getting good grades. They mosphere-relaxer. They remember Your Environment." This allows me willingly do the hard work of taking what we were talking about when to introduce the theories of Maslow intense notes on their reading they remember the chocolate. I sing about self actualization and relate because they know there is a pay- the prepositions to "Yankee Doodle," them to a speaking environment. The back. By repetition, students get to accompanied by my banjo. They beg atomistic behaviors develop into a list pick better and better sentences, for more–who wants to hear more of 15 specific actions each student often making more than three cards. I about prepositions!? What it boils can do–control the temperature, eliminate the mystery factor and the down to is fitting specific knowledge, move desks and chairs, make a guessing factor, and reward plain sys- behaviors, and actions around key or- seating chart, greet entering audience tematic hard work. ganizing ideas, and I make them easy members individually, and so on. In English literature courses, I try to remember and fun to play with. Fearful undergraduates and to do the same. My students get a We often repeat the keywords as a withdrawn graduate students become PAGE 16 Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 15
  16. 16. FROM PAGE 15 poems. I am applying ideas of study may be mysteries–wonderful Josephine Miles and Kenneth Burke, ones–but the procedures they apply worksheet that identifies a wide but I am adding the sense that a should be simple and easily number of minor forms in poetry. poem is a machine like a motorcycle, performed, not mysterious. I love Before we talk about "meaning," and they can take it apart in much teaching like this. where the untestable generalities the same way as mechanics work on flourish, we count nouns, verbs, and an engine. David E.E. Sloane, PhD., is a adjectives to see if the poem is For me, teaching is about what the professor of English and Education at concrete, emotional, or active, since students take away with them that the University of New Haven. G these traits correlate with eras and they can always bring back as a modes of English poetry, we learn to simple behavior. The things they discover mechanical things about Teaching Philosophy Statements Prepared by Faculty Candidates By Maryellen Weimer ypically, teaching philosophy of the philosophy statement and of include references so that the T statements are prepared as part of promotion and tenure dossiers or for teaching awards. teaching itself is reinforced when candidates are asked to discuss them with those conducting the interview. candidate can demonstrate a knowledge of literature relevant to college-level teaching and learning. However, increasingly they are being As for what a new faculty member The philosophy statement should requested by those interviewing for should put in the teaching philoso- show that the candidate is interested open faculty positions. The article phy statement being used as part of in teaching and expects to grow and referenced below documents the an application packet, the author develop further as a teacher. extent to which that is happening in makes a number of recommenda- Teaching continues to be an one discipline. tions. Along with ideas about how important part of virtually all What should faculty reviewers look students learn, those activities that academic positions. As the author for in a teaching philosophy the candidate believes promote points out, search committees often statement of a candidate? What learning, some recognition of varia- are more comfortable assessing the should those applying for academic tions in approaches to learning, and a research history and potential of can- positions put in a teaching philoso- discussion of factors related to didates than they are evaluating what phy statement? The author of this learning should be included. Also kind of teacher the candidate will be. article suggests models of teaching important is the kind of feedback that Careful analysis of a teaching philos- and learning. Of learning, he writes, will be provided to students, and ophy statement, coupled with follow- “Candidates should demonstrate how their learning will be assessed. up questions on its content, can knowledge of models of how Content that relates to teaching, provide much revealing information students learn, how best to including expectations for students, about a candidate’s potential. To encourage learning, and how to preferred learning environments, ensure that all candidates start from assess whether learning has favored instructional methods, and the same place, it is appropriate to occurred.” (p. 336) It is equally the nature of relationships with provide a list of areas that review important that candidates be able to students that foster learning, should committees would like the teaching discuss how they would apply their be discussed. philosophy statement to address. This written philosophy in different The author recommends that teaching situations. The importance teaching philosophy statements PAGE 17 Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement • www.FacultyFocus.com 16