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Writing a Teaching Philosophy

posted: 8.6.13 by Traci Gardner

In a marvelously ironic twist, I have spent the last several days working on a teaching statement for a job application. You may recall that just a few weeks ago, I marveled that I had never had to write a teaching philosophy. Apparently, the fates heard my boast and set about rectifying the situation.

Fortunately, I had the three-point creed from my Prezi presentation, Making My Beliefs. It was a great starting point, but it needed a lot more detail and explanation before I had something appropriate for a job application. In my first drafts, I reflected at length on how I had become a teacher:

My childhood was filled with educational tools. Along with more traditional birthday and holiday presents, my parents gave us picture books and novels as well as math, reading, and writing workbooks. The typical family fills their hall closet with linens and cleaning supplies. Our hall closet had a shelf devoted to notebook paper, spiral-bound notebooks, pencils, and pens.

What did I do with this bounty? I set up classes for my siblings. The oldest of four, I was the teacher, and they were the students in the make-believe classroom I arranged in my bedroom. On any normal day, I could be found reading to my youngest sister or helping my little brother figure out how something worked. I created assignments on their different levels, graded their work, and returned it with encouraging comments and stickers. Stickers were very important. We researched the rhinoceros beetles we found in the yard, classified the various seashells we hauled home from Fort Fisher Beach in our sand pails, and compared the growth cycle of the many vegetables in our backyard garden. I followed my interests, and I shared everything I learned with my sisters and brother. Never mind that I was only ten years old, I was already teaching.

In the end, I cut those paragraphs and several others. A colleague who read the drafts pointed out that I was meandering through teaching narrative, not philosophy in the passages. Fellow blogger Susan Naomi Bernstein read the first draft and suggested that I flip sections around to lead with my philosophy. She was right, of course. Yet another reader urged me to add more details on how I teach. I had fallen into the habit of telling, rather than showing. If you’re curious to see the outcome, the final version of my teaching philosophy is on my blog.

My colleagues provided me just the right feedback and encouragement throughout the writing process. I cannot thank them enough for the help. No matter how the job application turns out, I loved writing something with such a supportive community of friends and writers to help me. I wish every writer could have such support.

[Photo: Rhinoceros Beetle (Xyloryctes jamaicensis) by EpochCatcher, on Flickr]

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2 Responses to “Writing a Teaching Philosophy”

  1. Marilyn Hollman, Literacy Perspectives Says:

    I hope it goes nicely. It is an unnerving experience. It is fun that you managed to recycle.

  2. Traci Gardner Says:

    Thanks, Marilyn. 🙂