Why do we teach? What do we give? What do we get from our students? Who was your favorite teacher or was your best teacher? Why? What would three students say about you at your retirement party? What makes you the unique teacher that you are?
On 26 March, 15 teachers came together for a CITL workshop – “What You Teach No Matter What You Teach: How Your Teaching Philosophy Guides Your Practice.” Robert, Daniela, and Bethany, CITL Ambassadors, facilitated the workshop.
The conversations were lively. The passion for teaching, the reason for teaching, and the desire to be a catalyst for bringing knowledge to and opening the minds of students, were palpable.
Every teacher in the room remembered by name their favorite or best teacher. In responding to that question, they could not restrain themselves from telling the group a brief anecdote about that teacher although they were not asked to provide one.
In response to the question, “What makes you the unique teacher that you are?” the teachers’ paraphrased responses were:
- I inspire, ignite students’ passion,
- invite experimentation,
- share their life experience to provide a different perspective,
- draw out each student’s stories,
- assist students to grow and blossom,
- make knowledge accessible,
- invite individual students to engage,
- provide real world perspectives,
- make it fun to learn,
- examine and evaluate,
- adopt a different approach,
- adapt their thinking,
- trust the students,
- encourage the emotional side of learning,
- translate theory into practice,
- transfer knowledge that is applicable.
Further quoting the teachers present on the question “What do we, as teachers, get from our students?” their answers included: “passion, fresh perspective, challenge, more challenge,hope in the future generation, optimism, energy, enthusiasm, frustration, and excitement; I learn new things, I feel younger because I am around them, I learn more about my area of subject matter expertise from my students.”
The meaning and heart of teaching maybe different for each of us, yet we all share a similar joy and enthusiasm for doing it. These conversations reminded all of us that we teach because it is what we do.
In this light, a teaching philosophy statement is a declaration to ourselves and to others of that unique reason that each of us prepares for our classes, facilitates learning activities, and meets with students before or after class.
A teaching philosophy statement is like true north on a compass. Like true north it is constant and when you move in that direction your teaching emerges from a place that is deep within you, taps into your passion and allows you to bring your authentic self into the teaching experience. Teaching is a science and an art. At its core, teaching is a social experience. The parties to that experience are interdependent and co-create the social experience with a teacher’s guidance.
The following is offered as one approach for developing your own teaching philosophy statement.
- Tell your story – What is it or who that influenced you to teach?
Teaching is a vocation. A story is more powerful and engaging then listing your teaching experience. Beginning your philosophy statement with your story draws in the reader and you become three-dimensional.
- Why do you teach?
The why you teach is a concise way to capture and convey what drives your passion for teaching.
- One principle or several guiding values or principles for you as a teacher
What are the values or principles that guide you in shaping your courses and your approach to teaching them whenever you teach?
- Your teaching objectives (not course dependent)
Like course objectives, what is it that when you teach regardless of the course. What do you want your students to walk away with?
- Your measures for determining if you met these objectives
How do you determine whether your objectives are met? What are the observable or measurable shifts that you look for?
- Closing or summary statement
Please post your perspective on this question here so all can benefit from your experience.