Becoming an effective teacher is a journey that is never-ending. Every student you meet and every class you teach should provide you with new insights and knowledge about yourself and your outlook that can be used to develop your own personal teaching philosophy. It may help to think of the exercise as a type of teaching mission statement.
Your philosophy should always be changing and evolving throughout your career, so do not get discouraged if you need to change some of your ideas as time passes. The following steps are one way to begin developing your teaching philosophy.
- Why did you become a teacher? Almost every teacher you talk to has a slightly different reason as to why he or she became a teacher. Many will say such things as passing their knowledge to the next generation, or a desire to help children. Maybe you have more than one reason. Examining those reasons are a good place to start developing a foundation for your personal teaching philosophy.
- Why did you choose your subject area and/or grade level? Do you have a particularly strong passion for your subject area or working with your grade level? What is it that you want your students to learn that you can provide for them? Focus in on what you can offer students and how your preferred instruction techniques fit into that scenario.
- Beyond your subject area, what do you want to teach the students? Is it the teacher's job to teach the students anything beyond the subject of the class? What would you like all of your students to have learned from you or your actions? Teachers are role models for their students and you should incorporate your thoughts on this idea into your teaching philosophy.
- What is your teaching style? Do you believe in the "sage-on-the-stage" or "guide-on-the-side" approach? Are you more authoritative or authoritarian? How much involvement do you believe students should have in deciding classroom rules and the direction of the lesson? What types of assessments do you feel are the most relevant? All of these components make up your teaching style and are the basis for different teaching philosophies. This might also be a good place to explore if you believe about various learning styles of the students and if you subscribe to differentiation of your curriculum in order to meet the needs of diverse learners.
- What makes a teacher effective? What is your idea of an effective teacher and how will you reach that level with your effective teaching strategies? This topic can range from content knowledge, to teaching methods, to continuing education. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses and how to improve.
When learning how to develop a teaching philosophy, remember that your teaching philosophy, once written, will change as you experience more and teach different students. Think of it as a living, breathing document. Reflect on it often and do not be afraid to change your mind. If you're currently enrolled in online continuing education classes, open discussion on teaching philosophies with your fellow students. Remember: a teaching philosophy is a personal reflection of who you are, so be yourself and you can never be wrong.