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What is a teaching philosophy statement?

At a glance

  • A teaching philosophy statement identifies a teacher’s beliefs about teaching and learning.
  • Understanding teaching methods, knowing which is most effective for you and your students, and defining clear goals can help shape your teaching philosophy.
  • When writing a teaching philosophy statement, it’s important to be honest and transparent while keeping it short and to the point.
  • Learn more about online education degrees and certificate programs for educators at University of Phoenix.

A teaching philosophy statement identifies your beliefs about teaching and learning. Creating a teaching philosophy statement offers a chance to reflect on your classroom experiences and articulate your beliefs based on your observations.

Teaching philosophies map to educational learning theories such as constructivism, behaviorism, humanism and critical pedagogy. These learning theories provide a framework for understanding, interacting, and making sense of human behavior with regard to learning. They also influence how teachers instruct students.

A strong teaching philosophy statement can help a teacher become more effective by helping to identify what works and what doesn’t while providing a logical framework for adjusting an approach. It also provides a concise description of your professional approach to education to share with students, parents and colleagues.

What are the components of a teaching philosophy statement?

A teaching philosophy should include the following components:

  • Beliefs about teaching and learning: What do you believe is important in teaching? How do those beliefs impact how you teach, plan lessons and interact with students?
  • Teaching method: Which approach do you think is most effective? Teaching methods such as active learning, direct instruction and problem-based learning are just a few of the teaching methods an instructor may employ, based on content, context and students’ needs. What methods do you prefer for evaluating student performance? How do you define success as a teacher? Do you see yourself as an educator who collaborates with colleagues or works independently?
  • Goals for your students: What do you want your students to be able to do when they leave your classroom? Are specific skills or competencies important to you?

Let’s explore these elements in depth so you can create your own teaching philosophy statement.

Beliefs about teaching and learning

Beliefs about teaching and learning belong in a teaching philosophy statement because they are the foundation of how you approach your work as a teacher. When you teach, it’s important to know what you’d like your student outcomes to be and whether they’re realistic for your students.

Teaching isn’t just about imparting knowledge; it’s about leading and helping students learn how to learn. This means understanding where they’re coming from and what they need moving forward. That knowledge can then guide you in planning and instruction.

A good teaching philosophy will help you stay focused on what’s most important in the classroom: students’ learning experiences.

Teaching methods

A teacher’s philosophy statement is a chance to showcase an instructor’s preferred teaching methods — and there are numerous teaching methods.

The most common is direct instruction, when instruction is mostly teacher-lead. Lecturing, one form of direct instruction, allows students to focus on processing information without the distraction of having to contribute, collaborate, question or challenge. Done too often or too poorly, however, and a lecture can become a dull experience that loses students’ attention. 

Another common teaching method is project-based learning, when students work together to learn about a subject. This method encourages collaboration among peers and provides hands-on experience with real-world problems. The drawback? Students who lack strong research skills or who work better on their own may fail to learn essential lessons or skills.

Additionally, some teachers combine methods, such as lecture and discussion groups with hands-on activities sprinkled throughout the day. This method ideally allows students to experience the benefits of both types of instruction while mitigating the drawbacks. The trick is knowing which method to use and when for maximum efficacy.  

Goals for your students

One of the most important things a teaching philosophy addresses is the need to help students develop a love for learning. Stating how you approach this goal is a great way to describe your teaching methods and creativity.

Another goal may be to help students become critical thinkers. Critical thinking involves analyzing information and coming up with conclusions based on what you’ve learned. Critical thinking is an essential skill students use throughout their lives to make well-informed decisions.

Finally, another goal might be to help students learn how to read critically. Critical reading means more than just reading words — it’s asking questions about what the author is saying, and it involves thinking about other ways of interpreting what’s written.

Where to find teaching philosophy statement examples

It’s important to have a clear vision for your teaching philosophy and to be able to share it with others. Here are some resources where you can find examples of teaching philosophy statements:

Online education programs and master’s degree programs in education help teachers develop their teaching philosophy by allowing them to learn from mentors who have experience in crafting such statements.

These programs also provide opportunities for students to explore new ideas and reflect on their experiences relating to educational practices.

Writing guidelines for a teaching philosophy statement

A teaching philosophy statement is an important part of applying for most teaching jobs. A good philosophy statement will show the interviewer that you have thought carefully about your teaching style and what you hope to bring to the classroom. Here are some tips for writing a successful one:

  1. Be honest and transparent. A teaching philosophy statement isn’t an essay in which you must dazzle your audience with wordsmithing. It’s a concise mission statement for your approach to classroom instruction. Stay focused on what you need to convey and use simple, direct language.
  2. Keep it short and sweet. The whole point of a teaching philosophy statement is to give potential employers a quick summary of who you are as a teacher, so stick to the essentials.
  3. Proofread and revise multiple times. Errors, including spelling mistakes, can be a sign you’re not paying attention to detail or aren’t professional enough for the job.
  4. Read your statement out loud. This practice will help you catch awkward phrasing or wording that doesn’t flow well. Are sentences in active voice instead of a passive voice? Use active voice when possible; it’s more engaging and easier to read.

Examples of teaching philosophy statements

Teaching philosophy statements are personal and should be powerful. Do not copy anyone else’s but do use the following as a jumping-off point for how to craft your own.

  1. “A teacher’s job is to help students grow into lifelong learners by providing a safe place to explore the world around them and equip them with the skills they need to navigate that world. I believe that students are capable of learning in different ways, and it’s my job as a teacher to find out how each student learns best. This allows me to adapt my teaching style while maintaining consistency, so students can feel like they’re getting something new out of every lesson.”
  2. “To teach is to learn. The most important thing I can do as a teacher is to be a student — to keep learning and growing with my students and to model that learning for them. I believe in the power of experience. I want my students to have an opportunity to take risks and try out new things so they can learn more about themselves and the world around them. I believe in collaboration. My favorite learning experiences are working with a team on a project, especially if it’s just for fun!”

As a teacher, your greatest asset is your ability to connect with your students. Keep this in mind as you write your teaching philosophy statement. Put your students at the center of your statement — they are unique individuals who deserve respect and every effort to help them succeed.

Do’s and don’ts of a teaching philosophy statement

Writing a teaching philosophy statement can be challenging. It’s hard to distill your beliefs and values into just a few sentences. Keep the following key things in mind to help make the process easier.

Do: Be yourself

When writing your teaching philosophy statement, be genuine. Communicate your beliefs about teaching and learning, and avoid imitating someone else’s style. Be clear and concise about those beliefs. 

Don’t: Use technical jargon

The best teaching philosophy statements are simple, direct and easy to understand. Avoid technical jargon, acronyms, similes and metaphors in your statement, as they might be difficult for readers to interpret. 

Do: Use concrete examples

One of the most important aspects of writing a teaching philosophy statement is to provide concrete examples to illustrate your points. Doing so makes your beliefs more relatable and easier for others to understand.

Don’t: Write what you think others want to hear

Reflect on your personal beliefs as an educator. Avoid trying to guess what you think others want you to say.

Additional resources for writing a teaching philosophy statement

You’re not alone! The following resources are available to help you get started on your philosophy statement:

Earn a degree in education at University of Phoenix

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in education may help you better understand what it means to be an educator and how to approach the challenge of teaching students. This knowledge will also give you more confidence as you write your teaching philosophy statement. If you’d like to learn more about an online degree, here are a few options University of Phoenix offers: