… a clear and [honest] statement that communicates what your fundamental values and beliefs are about teaching and learning… and how you translate these values and beliefs into your everyday teaching and learning experiences.” – Natasha Kenny
Most academics don’t have time to think about teaching – they are just told to do it! This means that whereas school teachers or professional university staff involved in supporting learners or advising academics will usually have thought about why they are in this career, and what they want out of it, many academics arrived in a (research-intensive) university post wanting to research in their discipline – and then they find they have to teach! But, guess what? We all do have a philosophy of teaching and learning! You might just never have actually voiced it!
So in the EFS, we give you the chance to think about and voice your philosophy – why you teach at all, what drives you to teach well, what you think are key aspects about teaching and learning, and what you personally see as measures of success?
Your 300 word teaching philosophy will not be assessed. We take it as your personal conviction, and therefore it cannot be right or wrong. We can help you workshop it so that it says what you want it to say in a personal way. We hope it is underpinned by some of the Professional Values (because that’s what values are for) but we don’t judge – rather the EFS Assessors use your philosophy to get a feel for your approach and to understand where you are coming from as an educator. This helps to provide context to your reflective narrative.
Importantly, it is a valuable opportunity for you to reflect on your approaches to teaching and supporting learning, and think about what teaching means to you. Your teaching philosophy will likely also be of use to you in the future, should you wish to apply for promotions, new teaching jobs, or teaching awards.
A good teaching philosophy is:
- Free of technical jargon
- Does not read like a job description or report
- Written in the first person and the present tense
Some questions to ask yourself while writing your teaching philosophy are:
- What experiences, good or bad, did I have as a learner?
- What motivates me as an educator?
- What does teaching mean to me?
- What are my values and beliefs and how do they influence my teaching practices?
- Why did I become an educator in the first place?
- Why do I think I can make a difference?
- Why do I want to teach?
- Who do I think about when I am teaching?
- Who is my role model as a university educator?
- How do I want to be remembered by my students?
- How is my teaching influenced by past or present experiences?
- As a university educator, what do I want my learners to achieve?
- As a university educator, what do I want to achieve for myself?
Attend an event to develop your teaching philosophy
From time to time, we present a face to face module called Developing Your Teaching Philosophy (E2) with ideas on writing your philosophy, and inspiration from current fellows who talk about personal teaching philosophies and why they think “teaching is good for the soul!”. Keep an eye out for these and other modules on the events page. They are really worth attending!