Teaching Philosophy- How to Begin?

You know that you need to write a statement of teaching philosophy as part of your job application, but how in the world do you go about writing one? Or, if you’ve already written one, how can you make it stronger?

Vicki Daiello, Assistant Professor of Art Education at the University of Cincinnati, has these recommendations:

How to begin?
Especially if you’ve never done one before, perhaps the hardest thing about writing a
philosophy of teaching statement is figuring out how to begin. I recommend looking at a
number of sample teaching philosophy statements and then brainstorming or free-writing
in response to one of these prompts:
What is important to you in your teaching? Or,
Being an art educator means . . . ?
Also, it helps to produce a list of words or ideas – I encourage you to create your own list,
marking or highlighting the items that are most important to you and trying to think of
examples of ways in which these ideas are implemented in your classroom teaching. As
you brainstorm, try responding to some of the following questions:
• Think of an activity that you believe is a good example of successful
teaching and a good reflection of you as the kind of teacher you want to
be. What was it about the activity, and the way you implemented it, that
made it so?
• How do you establish rapport in your classes?
• Think of an activity that bombed in the classroom. Why do you think it
didn’t work? How would you change it and/or the way you presented it?
• How do you go about motivating students?
• How do you feel about assessment and grading?
• What do you think are important attributes of successful art students?
• What do you think makes an excellent teacher (in general)? an excellent
art teacher?
• How do you feel teachers can get better at what they do?
• What do you think is the most important issue in art education today?
• As an art teacher, what are some of your main concerns? What can you
do (or what can be done) about them?
• How do you think people learn art (successfully)? How does instruction
help? How can materials help?
• If I were to ask your students about your teaching, what would they say? (if
you were one of your students, what would you say about your teaching?)
• If I were to ask your supervisor about your teaching, what would they say?
(if you were your supervisor, what would you say about your teaching?)
Philosophy in motion. . .
Keep in mind, your philosophy of teaching statement will undergo changes and
refinements over time. Since you are changing and growing as an art educator, it is only
natural that your philosophy of teaching will grow and change along with you. Also, you should expect to adapt your philosophy of teaching statement to meet varying needs of
particular audiences. For example, the philosophy of teaching statement you present in
an employment application may differ in length and/or content from the philosophy of
teaching statement you include on your website.

Next up, how to evaluate the statement you have written.

This entry was posted in Applying for Jobs, Job Search Process, Teaching Philosophy and tagged , , by Jane Alden Stevens. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jane Alden Stevens

Jane Alden Stevens is a photographer and educator who is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati. An active artist, Stevens has exhibited and published her work extensively both in the US and abroad. She is the author of “Tears of Stone: World War I Remembered” (2004). In the course of her teaching career, Stevens taught courses in film, photography, and professional practices for fine artists. Her interest in teaching practices was deepened when she started teaching the "Graduate Teaching Workshop", a required graduate level course for fine artists and art historians that prepares them to teach the courses they will later be assigned. She was also involved in the Preparing Future Faculty program at the University of Cincinnati, which prepares masters and doctoral students across all programs for teaching at the university level. She has conducted pedagogy workshops for a variety of universities, as well as participated in academic practicum panels at educational conferences. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Stevens was honored with the all-university Cohen Award for Excellence in University Teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 2002 and Professor of the Year honors in her college in 2011.

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