How To Write A Teaching Philosophy


How to write a teaching philosophy? Why is a teaching philosophy important? An example of a teaching philosophy

Writing a teaching philosophy (similar to a teaching pedagogy) can be a challenge. I remember in University one of my last assignments was to write a teaching philosophy. In all, I felt I would never get it right. I spent days writing and rewriting. Therefore, I decided I’d share a few helpful steps and an example.

A teaching philosophy is a description of your beliefs and values of teaching and learning. All woven together justifying why you teach the way you do.

Step 1: Write down what values and beliefs that relate to teaching you consider important to youself. This is an opportunity to think about how you would want to teach children. Think back to when you were in school, what did you wish your teacher would do to make your experience more enjoyable? In addition, maybe you had a great schooling experience and there are things your teacher did that you loved?

Step 2: Combine your beliefs and values with early childhood theory and culture. Take a close look at everything you have learned about teaching children. As an example, you may strongly believe and inspire to be a Montessori or Reggio Emilia teacher. There may be aspects of Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, or BF Skinner that you feel are important to how you teach. Include these in your philosophy statement.

In New Zealand, for example, the Maori culture is extremely important to the people. Therefore, it is written into our curriculum – Te Whariki. You may want to consider your own culture and what the cultures are in the community you plan to work. How can your teaching practice be inclusive of those cultures?

Step 3: The hardest part of all. Putting it all together. Remember that you are writing your philosophy for others to read. You may want to include examples of how you would teach. Be open, honest, and genuine with your philosophy statements.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

Plutarch

Why Is A Teaching Philosophy Important?

It’s important to realise that a teaching philosophy is like the map you follow when teaching children. It enables you to know where you are trying to go and how to get there. If you don’t know where you are trying to go how will you ever get to your desired destination? The framework of a philosophy statement reflects how you will teach.

As a result, being hired to become a teacher you may be asked about your teaching philosophy. It’s a window into a part of who you are as a person. Being able to present a teaching philosophy or pedagogy to a preschool or kindergarten is beneficial to the possibility of being hired over someone who doesn’t provide one.

How to write a teaching philosophy? It's a description of your beliefs and values of teaching and learning. Why is a teaching philosophy important? An example of a teaching philosophy

“Teaching is about making some kind of dent in the world so that the world is different than it was before you practiced your craft. Knowing clearly what kind of dent you want to make in the world means that you must continually ask yourself the most fundamental evaluative questions of all — What effect am I having on students and on their learning?”

Stephen Brookfield

An Example of A Teaching Philosophy

I have included an example of my teaching philosophy. It was developed during University, so by no means is it perfect. For this reason, I have since extensively updated it, as I have learned new things and taken out a lot of the teacher jargon.

It’s important to remember that teaching philosophies are always changing and evolving. What you might believe one day could change the next. Here is an example of my first teaching philosophy that I wrote fresh out of University a few years back.

MY DEVELOPING PHILOSOPHY

The role of the teacher is to notice, recognise, and respond to a child’s learning, in a way that respectfully allows children to make their own decisions. I believe that children are capable and competent learners, who also learn alongside teachers through reciprocal learning. This encompasses the concept of ‘Ako’, that teacher and children are both learners. I believe that children are life-long learners who deserve to enter a safe space that is full of positive, happy, loving, and fair energy at preschool. I hold the importance of children learning through play, as children come to preschool with prior knowledge and experiences that they express through different resources and materials. By fostering children’s interests from home I believe that we create an environment for inquiry based learning, as we build on their needs, strengths, and interests. Through child-initiated experiences, a child’s learning is “more passionate, intense and purposeful” (Warren, 1999, p. 9).  

I value and respect the importance of incorporating Te reo Māori and Kaupapa Māori values such as, manaakitanga (caring and hospitality) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship and conservation), into every day teaching. After all its seen as a way of “knowing, being and doing of Māori and of other cultures” (Ritchie, 2013, p.154). The role of the teacher is to “recognise, acknowledge, and implement the bicultural philosophy of Te Whāriki and Kaupapa Māori” (O’Loughlin, 2013, p.65). Notably, I recognise that I am still on my personal/professional journey of commitment to learning Te reo Māori, tikanga Māori, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. I believe that through implementation, children are able to develop respect for Te ao Maori and other cultures, and are able to take these cultures outside of the education sector.  

Furthermore, planning and evaluation is an important part of documenting, supporting, and extending upon a child’s knowledge. Through collaboration (partnership) between parents/families, other teachers, and children, a child’s experiences can be spontaneous or planned to benefit their individual needs. As an early childhood teacher, I value an environment where children are able to participate freely, parents are actively involved and included all aspects of their child’s life, and teachers are able to actively learn and share idea’s along the way.  

References:

Brookfield, S. (2006). The skillful teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ministry of Education. (1996).  Te Whāriki: He whāriki matauranga mo nga mokopuna o Aotearoa early childhood curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.

O’Loughlin, B. (2013). The voice of whānau Māori in their child’s success ‘as Māori’ in mainstream early childhood education. (Unpublished masters dissertation), University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Ritchie, J. (2013). Te Whāriki and the promise of early childhood care and education grounded in a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. In J. Nuttall (Ed.), Weaving Te Whāriki (2nd ed.) (pp. 141-156). Wellington: NZCER Press.

Categories: Teaching Resources

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