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An educational philosophy statement or teaching philosophy statement is a brief essay that all nearly prospective teachers are required to write. Vanderbilt University explains:
"A teaching (philosophy) statement is a purposeful and reflective essay about the author's teaching beliefs and practices. It is an individual narrative that includes not only one's beliefs about the teaching and learning process but also concrete examples of the ways in which he or she enacts these beliefs in the classroom."
A well-crafted teaching statement gives a clear and unique portrait of the author as a teacher. Ohio State University's Center for the Advancement of Teaching further explains that a teaching philosophy statement is important because a clear philosophy of teaching can lead to a change in teaching behavior and foster professional and personal growth.
Examples of Teaching Philosophy Statements
This passage is an example of a strong statement of teaching philosophy because it puts students where they belong in education: at the front and center of a teacher's focus. An author who writes such as a statement is likely to continuously examine and verify this philosophy by always ensuring that student needs are the primary focus of all lessons and schoolwork.
"My philosophy of education is that all children are unique and must have a stimulating educational environment where they can grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. It is my desire to create this type of atmosphere where students can meet their full potential. I will provide a safe environment where students are invited to share their ideas and take risks.
"I believe that there are five essential elements that are conducive to learning. (1) The teacher's role is to act as a guide. (2) Students must have access to hands-on activities. (3) Students should be able to have choices and let their curiosity direct their learning. (4) Students need the opportunity to practice skills in a safe environment. (5) Technology must be incorporated into the school day."
The following statement is a good example of a teaching philosophy because the author emphasizes that all classrooms, and indeed all students, are unique and have specific learning needs and styles. A teacher with such a philosophy is likely to ensure that she spends time helping each student achieve her highest potential.
"I believe that all children are unique and have something special that they can bring to their own education. I will assist my students to express themselves and accept themselves for who they are, as well embrace the differences of others.
"Every classroom has its own unique community; my role as the teacher will be to assist each child in developing their own potential and learning styles. I will present a curriculum that will incorporate each different learning style, as well as make the content relevant to the students' lives. I will incorporate hands-on learning, cooperative learning, projects, themes, and individual work that engage and activate students learning."
This statement provides a solid example because the author emphasizes the moral objective of teaching: that she will hold each student to the highest expectations and ensure that each one is diligent in her studies. Implied in this statement is that the teacher will not give up on even a single recalcitrant student.
"I believe that a teacher is morally obligated to enter the classroom with only the highest of expectations for each and every one of her students. Thus, the teacher maximizes the positive benefits that naturally come along with any self-fulfilling prophecy. With dedication, perseverance, and hard work, her students will rise to the occasion."
"I aim to bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and high expectations to the classroom each day. I believe that I owe it to my students, as well as the community, to bring consistency, diligence, and warmth to my job in the hope that I can ultimately inspire and encourage such traits in the children as well."
The following statement takes a slightly different tack: Classrooms should be warm and caring communities. Unlike the previous statements, this one minimizes the individuality of students and emphasizes that, essentially, it take a village to foster truly community-based learning. All teaching strategies then, such as morning meetings and community problem solving, follow this philosophy.
"I believe that a classroom should be a safe, caring community where children are free to speak their mind and blossom and grow. I will use strategies to ensure our classroom community will flourish, like the morning meeting, positive vs. negative discipline, classroom jobs, and problem-solving skills.
"Teaching is a process of learning from your students, colleagues, parents, and the community. This is a lifelong process where you learn new strategies, new ideas, and new philosophies. Over time, my educational philosophy may change, and that's okay. That just means that I have grown and learned new things."
Components of a Teaching Philosophy Statement
A teaching philosophy statement should include an introduction, body, and conclusion-just as you would expect of your students if they were writing a paper. But there are specific components that you need to include in any such statement:
Introduction: This should be your thesis statement where you discuss your general belief about education (such as: "I believe all students have a right to learn") as well as your ideals in relation to teaching. You should "begin with the end," says James M. Lang in an Aug. 29, 2010, article titled, "4 Steps to a Memorable Teaching Philosophy" published in "The Chronicle of Higher Education." Lang says you should consider what the students will have learned once they depart your class, after having been guided by your teaching philosophy and strategies.
Body: In this part of the statement, discuss what you see as the ideal classroom environment and how it makes you a better teacher, addresses student needs, and facilitates parent/child interactions. Discuss how you would facilitate age-appropriate learning, and how you involve students in the assessment process. Explain how you would put your educational ideals into practice.
Lang says that you should clearly state your goals and objectives for students. Layout specifically what you hope your teaching will help students to accomplish. Be specific by telling a story or offering "a detailed description of an innovative or interesting teaching strategy you have used," says Lang. Doing so, helps your reader understand how your teaching philosophy would play out in the classroom.
Conclusion: In this section, talk about your goals as a teacher, how you have been able to meet them in the past, and how you can build on these to meet future challenges. Focus on your personal approach to pedagogy and classroom management, as well as what makes you unique as an educator, and how you wish to advance your career to further support education.
Lang notes that, while you don't need to use official citation style, you should cite your sources. Explain where your teaching philosophy originated-for example, from your experiences as an undergraduate, from a faculty mentor you worked with during your teacher-training program, or perhaps from books or articles on teaching that had a particular influence on you.
Formatting Your Statement
In addition to considering the type of teaching philosophy to write, Ohio State University offers some general formatting suggestions. The Ohio State University Center for the Advancement of Teaching states:
"There is no required content or set format. There is no right or wrong way to write a philosophy statement, which is why it is so challenging for most people to write one. You may decide to write in prose, use famous quotes, create visuals, use a question/answer format, etc."
There are, however, some general rules to follow when writing a teaching philosophy statement, says the university's teacher-training department:
Keep it brief. The statement should be no more than one to two pages, according to the Ohio State University Center for the Advancement of Teaching.
Use present tense, and write the statement in the first person, as the previous examples illustrate.
Avoid jargon. Use common, everyday language, not "technical terms," the university advises.
Create a "vivid portrait" that includes "strategies and methods… (to help) your reader take a mental 'peek' into your classroom," adds the Ohio State University Center for the Advancement of Teaching.
Additionally, make sure you talk about "your experiences and your beliefs" and ensure your statement is original and truly describes the methods and philosophy you would employ in teaching, the university adds.