Your Teaching Philosophy

On January 3, 2011, in Being a GA/TA, Teaching Tips, Think About It, UWindsor, by Melanie Santarossa

You may not realize it but you have a vision when you walk into the classroom. You have an idea of how you would like your students to learn, and in turn, how you hope to teach them. Some GAs and TAs might value transparency in the classroom, or a democratic learning environment. Others might see the students’ lives as resources for deciding how and what they should teach, while some GAs and TAs might place a lot of importance on creating a culturally respectful atmosphere. But how do you decide what your teaching space and teaching style are like, especially if you have not had much experience teaching?

Catching a Thoughtphoto © 2009 Hartwig HKD | more info (via: Wylio) Enter the teaching philosophy. This very important document, usually 1-2 pages, outlines what your beliefs, values, and visions are as an educator. Now, as you are beginning your career in an academic teaching role, is the time to begin to write your teaching philosophy. And be prepared to rewrite this many, many times. The more you teach, the more you learn what works for you and what doesn’t, and your teaching philosophy should reflect these changes.

Here are some simple suggestions that can help you on the road to writing your teaching philosophy:

  • Try to keep a teaching journal. Write about the activities you are bringing into the classroom, how those work, and what you would like to change. A teaching journal is also a great way to think about what you should be bringing into the classroom, based on how your students respond and or interact to your activities. From here you can easily see a theme to your teaching.
  • Use mid-course and end-of-term feedback to guide you. Feedback is a great way to see what it is about your class that students take away with them. This will help you to see what students appreciate about your teaching space.
  • Ask someone you consider a mentor (or one of the CTL staff) to watch you teach. Having someone sit in on the class as a student can really give you a true glimpse from the back of the classroom (and one you might not receive from feedback).

For those of you who already have a teaching philosophy, what advice can you share for those getting started? What about those who need to edit their philosophy, what can they do to edit efficiently and effectively?