Teaching Philosophy



#GoalPoints Possible
1Assignment is correctly submitted (see directions); assignment demonstrates attention to detail 1
2Introduction is a short, separate paragraph; Introduction clearly describes what you teach (i.e., age/grade range, and if secondary, content area(s)); Conclusion is a short, separate paragraph; see example essay 2
3Essay provides a coherent, compelling portrait of your teaching identity, especially what you teach and how you teach it; essay balances covering many different areas of teaching with clear, sufficient explanations in each area 4
4Essay clearly, directly addresses both Core Topics and at least 2 Important Topics; there is at least one clear, separate paragraph for each Topic; you describe at least 2 specific strategies for each Topic (i.e., actual activities, assignments, and/or products/devices that you will use) 8
5Essay is written for the correct audience: someone considering hiring you 1
6Essay is 600-900 words (including any quotes, etc.); few or no errors in conventions (e.g., spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary); consistent first-person point of view ("I" language) 4
Total Possible20

Add to Portfolio

Assignment is correctly submitted (see directions); assignment demonstrates attention to detail



Read the directions and rubric carefully. If you have questions about this assignment, please ask me.

As a teacher, how do you connect your beliefs, goals, and strategies into a coherent approach to helping students learn and grow?

A big idea in this course is: Be deliberate and reflective in constructing your teaching identity. A useful way to strategically reflect on your teaching identity is writing your Teaching Philosophy. In education, there are many different big ideas (e.g., organizing principles, useful insights, promising strategies). Your Philosophy should be based on your core beliefs about teaching, learning, and students. Your Philosophy should be personal and unique.

FYI, your Teaching Philosophy is sometimes called your "philosophy of education" or your "pedagogy".

Your Philosophy should reflect how you see the work of teaching and what’s most important to you. You can do this with what you write and with how you write.

You should consider your audience, especially administrators who are considering hiring you. In some schools, a team makes a hiring decision. In some schools, that team can include teachers, other school staff, and even parents/guardians and community members. You can refer to big ideas in educational psychology to support your Philosophy (e.g., constructivism). You can refer to big ideas implicitly (in “everyday” language) or explicitly (by name). However, since many ideas are understood and/or used differently by different people, you should usually elaborate on an idea to explain how you understand and/or use it (e.g., constructivism means different things to different people). Referring to big ideas can make you seem well-educated and thoughtful, but your Philosophy should demonstrate your beliefs, not just “name dropping.”

Your Philosophy should be structured like an essay, with a clear introduction and conclusion, and with transitions. Paragraphs should have clear themes, combining into a coherent overall message. The message should be your desired/ideal teaching identity. Avoid just writing a series of beliefs; connect your ideas, and relate them back to teaching, learning, and students. Try to cover many different areas of teaching, while adequately explaining your beliefs about each area.

Your Philosophy should demonstrate a reflective, responsive approach to the specific challenges of your focus area, including the grade/age and content you teach. In other words, be explicit about who and what you teach, so that your Philosophy is clearly driven by those specific challenges.

Your Philosophy should be written in a semi-formal or formal style. You should use first-person (“I”) language (e.g., "As a teacher, I...") ("Teachers should"). You should write in present tense. Even if you're not working as a teacher yet, write as if you already are a teacher. Your writing will be clearer, and you won't have to revise your philosophy if you share it with potential employer. Your philosophy should have a clear introduction and conclusion. An intro and conclusion matter, in essays and in teaching. Notice how every lecture I give includes an intro and closure.

Many teachers like to be creative in the presentation of their philosophies. You can add quotes and/or images. You can edit the font(s) and/or background. My essay includes some images. You're not required to use images; this isn't part of the rubric. If you use images, be sure to include credits at the bottom.


Components of Philosophy

You must address two Core Topics in your Philosophy:

  1. Effective Teaching: How do you teach what you teach, and why is that an effective way to teach it?
  2. Honoring Difference: How do you help all students feel included and able to succeed, regardless of background?

In addressing Honoring Difference, you can draw on the essay you wrote for My Influence as a Teacher. You can cut-and-paste from the earlier assignment, or paraphrase, or write something new.

You must also address at least two Important Topics:

  1. Assessment
  2. Classroom management
  3. Connecting with parents/guardians
  4. Discipline/content-specific issues (e.g., band and orchestra in Music)
  5. Educational technology
  6. Human development (e.g., learning to learn in preschool)
  7. Moral development (e.g., teaching values)
  8. Motivation
  9. Thresholds knowledge, skills, and dispositions (i.e., preparing students for success in 21st Century careers and communities)
  10. Coaching and/or advising (i.e., extracurricular groups)

You don't need to use separate headings for different topics but you can use separate headings if you prefer. There are many other areas you can cover in your Philosophy. Try to balance breadth and depth (i.e., specifics).

Style Guide

Here's how I prefer you format your essay. This is not a requirement.

Submitting This Assignment

You submit your essay 2 or 3 times:

  1. Word document to D2L
  2. After I have scored and returned your essay, add your essay to your D2L ePortfolio and then submit a link to your portfolio in Kat
  3. Resubmit Word document to D2L (optional)

Please don't email your essay.

How to Submit/Resubmit to D2L

Submit this assignment via the correct Dropbox in D2L. Your essay should be a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx). If you haven't used the Dropbox before, I recommend you leave enough time to figure it out. If you have problems with D2L, please let me know.

You must use a specific filename.

After you submit, you will receive a confirmation email. Don't delete this email. Save this email until you see your final grade for this course on your Degree Progress Report and you're satisfied with your grade.

When I score your essay, I use the "Track Changes" feature in Word. Then I email your document back to you. Look inside the document for my corrections and comments.

(You may apply for some jobs online. There may be over 100 applicants. It's very important to use meaningful subjects in emails, and meaningful filenames for attachments.)

From the Syllabus:

I expect you to complete your assignments with integrity. For most assignments, you will be free to use resources and people inside and outside of this course. Some assignments may even require this. However, I expect you to give proper credit for anything that isn’t your own original work. I urge you to make intellectual integrity a central part of your professional identity. Professionals in a variety of fields routinely use other people’s work (e.g., lesson plans in education). But accidentally or deliberately leaving off credit is professionally and morally wrong. I use anti-plagiarism tools. I don't expect my students to plagiarize others' work; rather, you can be confident that no one is plagiarizing your work (e.g., in a future class). If you are unclear on how to give proper credit, please ask me before turning in the assignment.

Add to Portfolio

After you have written your essay, you need to add it to your portfolio in the Teaching Philosophy page. You can add your essay as a PDF or as a text area.

Copy the Public Access link to your portfolio. In the Gradebook in Kat, click on the Status for "Teaching Philosophy (Add to Portfolio)". Paste the link and click Submit. When my assistant or I score this assignment, you'll receive full points if:

If your major doesn't require an online portfolio, you don't need to complete this assignment. Instead, send me an email that includes this sentence: "My major doesn't require an online portfolio, so please excuse me from Teaching Philosophy (Add to Portfolio)."

Submit vs. Resubmit

From the Syllabus:

Some assignments are “Resubmit" assignments. There are two due dates for Resubmit assignments. The first due date is a Submit. I will score your assignment using the rubric and record a score in the gradebook. The second due date is a Resubmit. If you wish, you can simply accept your score on the Submit. Or you can resubmit a revised version for a new score. By resubmitting, you can increase your score by as much as 10% (or at least 1 point). (You can’t decrease your score.) If you submit an assignment late, you can't resubmit it. Likewise, I won't accept a late resubmit. (The late penalty would cancel the resubmit increase.)

Special Cases

If you're not a traditional classroom teacher, you may have a different perspective on educational technology. You're still responsible for describing your relationship with technology as a professional educator. Here are some possible questions to consider:

You needn't write extensively about tech, but at least enough that I can see you've thought about these issues.

If your major doesn't require an online portfolio, you don't need to include an http link. You must include your email address, and this sentence: "My major doesn't require an online portfolio."

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If you don't know where you are going, you're likely to end up somewhere else. (Peter's Principle states that employees within a hierarchical organization will advance to their highest level of competence, be promoted to a level at which they are incompetent, and then stay in that position.) -Lawrence J. Peter (more quotes)

Created by Kym Buchanan | http://KymBuchanan.org | This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Some content and curriculum based on work by: Maysee Herr, Rand Spiro, Lisa Bardon, Quinn Stanley, Larry Riggs, Pat Shaw, Sue Slick, and others at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Unattributed images are the work of the author or taken from Microsoft PowerPoint.

Last revised 5/5/14