Teaching Philosophies

An effective teaching philosophy has a single focus or organizing theme and communicates this purpose to your audience clearly and persuasively. Before beginning to write, select one primary audience (e.g. yourself, a potential employer, a P&T committee). An effective teaching philosophy also gives specific, concrete evidence of teaching effectiveness. In fact, for every assertion, there is an example or two. Giving specific examples is not as easy as it sounds. Read this on giving specific examples. A teaching philosophy explains the teaching goals that are common to all your classes and demonstrates how the pedagogy and assessments you use support those goals. It addresses self-improvement strategies, i.e., “what’s next?” for you as a teacher.

A memorable teaching philosophy communicates your passion for teaching (again, with examples) and paints a picture of your classroom. It is a living document that helps you define yourself as a teacher. It also provides a touchstone to guide you as you make decisions about teaching and learning.

For a tutorial on how to get started and a rubric on how to assess your teaching philosophy, see the University of Minnesota Center for Teaching and Learning page on Writing Your Teaching Philosophy.

Examples of effective teaching philosophies follow.

Teaching Philosophy Examples

Current and former faculty who have shared their teaching philosophies include:

Elizabeth Alderman, Art
Ruth Crispell, English & Communication, Doña Ana Community College
Dede Dunlavy, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Robert Paz, Electrical & Computer Engineering