Why do you teach the way you do? How do your personal and professional values align with what's going on in your teaching practice? How can you tell?
Teaching philosophies are commonplace in primary and secondary education and are becoming more so in higher education. I've even started to hear about them being used as part of the job interview process.
Participants on the postgraduate certificate course, graduate teaching assistant course and for those applying for a Fellowship of Advance HE via the open route at my institution are required to write one.
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Why write one?
- It helps us to make decisions about our behaviour, the tools and activities we use and the way we interact with those we teach
- It helps us be consistent in those decisions and choices
- Being self-aware and being able to articulate our reasons provides us with confidence
- Confidence will provide authority
- Cognitive dissonance and the resulting burnout will reduce as what we believe and what we do will be in alignment
- It will help us make career choices - are our values and philosophies supported or hindered by our environment, colleagues and institution
What goes in a teaching philosophy?
Ask yourself questions such as:
- What do I mean by teaching?
- What do I mean by learning?
- What drives me and keeps me motivated?
- What are my personal and professional values?
- how do they show up in my practice?
- What actually happens in my classroom?
My own teaching philosophy is centred around my belief that everyone should have the opportunity to develop their potential and that if people could improve what they do, even if just by 10%, then this would improve the world we live in. I create space for the honing of skills such as critical thinking, independent learning and teamwork. This space helps to form connections; connections between ideas and social connections between peers. I give my time to students: I am prepared and enthusiastic; I am the first one in the door welcoming my students and the last one out saying goodbye. My materials and activities are carefully thought out and planned. This shows I take myself and my students seriously and value their precious time.
What does your look like? I'd love to know so feel free to leave a comment.