Developing Your Teaching Philosophy

Welcome to

Developing Your Teaching Philosophy!


Here at TCC, instructors are asked to compose a personal teaching philosophy statement as a part of the portfolio process.

Composing this statement can be a daunting task, as you must put into words the processes of teaching and learning that you employ in your classroom. You may ask yourself, where do I begin?

This module is designed to help you formulate your ideas about teaching philosophies and organize them to create your own statement.

Move to the next page to view the learning outcomes for the module.




Learning Outcomes


After completing this module, you will be able to:




To the right you will find a Planning Document that can be used to organize your thoughts and ideas for your statement as you move through the module.

On the next page, we'll discuss what makes up a teaching philosophy...




What is a Teaching Philosophy?

Take a moment and think about how you approach the act of teaching.

How do you view the role of the

  • Institution?
  • Student?
  • Instructor?

Now think about

  • Your beliefs regarding education
  • What you value in teaching
  • Which educational theories you subscribe to and how you put those theories into practice within the classroom





The teaching philosophy statement is a narrative in which these ideas are articulated in order to define what teaching means to you as an instructor.





Before getting into the content of the teaching philosophy, take a look at some guidelines for formatting the statement.




Key Elements of a Teaching Philosophy

Overall, the teaching philosophy is a document that is meant to be both self-reflective and goal-oriented in nature

and it should provide readers with a clear picture of your teaching values and practices.

Let's breakdown the various sections of a teaching philosophy statement.


Most statements include the following key elements:


Your Ideas About the Purpose of Teaching

How You View the Role of the Teacher

How You View the Role of the Student


Your Description of Your Teaching Methods & Expectations for Learning

How You Evaluate and Assess Learning

State your beliefs regarding the concepts of teaching, learning, and higher education. You can also discuss these beliefs and values in reference to your discipline.


Formulate ideas based on your experiences and the major education philosophies (an overview of the philosophies can be found on the next pages).

Discuss the characteristics that define an effective teacher.


State your goals for teaching. These can be specific to your discipline or more general in nature (or you can outline goals for both).



State your goals for your students.


Describe the relationship between you and your students and the ways that you foster positive interactions.



Describe how you implement the educational ideas and philosophies that you subscribe to within your course. Provide specific anecdotes, examples, or metaphors that demonstrate your teaching methodology.


Outline your instructional strategy; how you go about achieving student learning goals. Give the reader an idea of what it is like to be in your course.



Discuss the methods of assessment that you use to evaluate student learning and comprehension.


State how these methods align with your goals and concepts for teaching to form your philosophy.




The 5 Education Philosophies

Now that we've looked at the main elements of a statement, let's examine the philosophical ideas that help to characterize the varying approaches to teaching.

There are 5 common education philososphies that instructors can refer to in order to develop their teaching philosophy statement. These include:



The next few pages will provide you with more details about each philosophy.




The Essentialist education philosophy maintains that schools and instructors should strive to instill traditional intellectual and moral values in students and focus mainly on the "essential" academic subjects (such as reading, history, math, natural science, or writing). It's goal is to ensure that collective wisdom and academic knowledge is passed systematically from teacher to student in an effort to prepare students to be productive members of society.

Essentialism is a teacher-centered philosophy, emphasizing the instructor as the authority on everything that occurs in the course and the students as passive participants. Essentialists believe that students should be taught hard work, discipline, and respect for rules.



Major Players

William Bagley

Arthur Bestor

E.D. Hirsch


Roll over the image to read about an example of essentialism.






Perennialism is an education philosophy that focuses on the enduring themes and ideas of Western Civilization art, history, and the "Great Books" - works of literature that have been deemed relevant to the foundation of Western culture. This philosophy maintains that the ideas found in the Great Books and works like them should be the focus of the curriculum.

Perennialism is a teacher-centered philosophy, in which it is the responsibility of the instructor to ensure that students gain cultural literacy and learn about the greatest achievements in a given field. Perennialists believe that this can be achieved by instructors guiding students in debate and evaluating their knowledge through testing.


Major Players

Allan Bloom

Robert Maynard Hutchins

Mortimer Adler


Roll over the image to read about an example of perennialism.


books round.jpg






Progressivism in education is characterized by a focus on educating the whole student in an active, empirical way. Progressivists believe that the process of learning is rooted in the learner's questions that arise through experiencing the world. Progressivism is a student-centered philosophy, and effective progressive teachers provide experiences and environments that foster learning by doing. Curriculum content is derived from student interests and questions; students play a large role in making decisions about their education. Progressive instructors employ the scientific method in their teaching and encourage a democracy within the course.



Major Players

John Dewey

Francis Parker


Roll over the image to read about an example of progressivism.

dewey circle.png





Existentialism is a student-centered philosophy. The ideas held by this education philosophy are in opposition to those of essentialism. Existentialism in education rejects standard curriculum and testing in favor of an open dialogue with students, in which the actions of historical individuals and students' reaction to the presented content is the focus.

Like progressivism, discovery learning is encouraged. However, existentialists focus more on self-discovery within the student over the in-depth exploration of content. The instructor acts as the facilitator, not guiding the student in any particular direction, but instead giving them the opportunity to explore their thoughts and know themselves. The goal of existential education is for students to form their own, authentic opinions on various subjects.



Major Players

Jean-Paul Sartre

Soren Kierkegaard


Roll over the image to read about an example of existentialism.

exist round.jpg




Social Reconstructionism



Social reconstructionism is an education philosophy that emphasizes the educational institution as an environment for implementing social change and challenging social inequalities. The curriculum focuses on student experience and taking social action on real problems, such as violence, hunger, international terrorism, inflation, and inequality. Central to this philosophy is the concept of praxis, the idea that actions based on sound theory and values can make a real difference in the world. Strategies for dealing with controversial issues (particularly in social sciences and literature), inquiry, dialogue, and multiple perspectives are the focus. Community-based learning and bringing the world into the classroom are also common strategies. Social Reconstructionism is a student-cented philosophy.



Major Players

Paulo Friere

George Counts



Roll over the image to read about an example of social reconstructionism.

ideas round.jpg





Teaching Philosophy Inventory


Now that we've reviewed the five major education philosophies, let's take a moment to determine which philosophy most aligns with your beliefs and values.

To the right you will find the Teaching Philosophy Inventory. You can complete this inventory and use the results to help guide you in composing your teaching philosophy statement.

inventory round.png

*Keep in mind that you may find that you have a preference for more than one philosophy.*






Aligning With TCC's Teaching Philosophy

Another perspective to consider when composing your statement is the teaching philosophy held by TCC.

TCC's philosophy emphasizes a learning-centered approach to teaching and this is shown through the

college's Teaching Values and the adherance to the Teacher/Learner Continuum model.



TCC's Teaching Values


 Hyperlink to Slideshow Activity 





The Teacher/Learner Continuum


 Hyperlink to Slideshow Activity 






Questions to Ask Yourself


At this point in the module, we have reviewed the various parts of a teaching philosophy statement, the major education philosophies, and the teaching principles that are valued at TCC.

The third page of the Planning Document has a list of questions for you to answer to help gather your thoughts.






 Below you will find several examples of teaching philosophy statements from TCC and other institutions:

General Example

Self-Reflective Statement

Statement Based on a Thesis

Specific Anecdotes/Examples

Discipline-Specific Statement

Question/Answer Format



Your Turn


Now that you have worked through the module and formulated ideas about your teaching philosophy, it's time to compose a draft of your own teaching philosophy statement.




Create a document describing your personal philosophy of teaching. In this statement you will address...

Refer back to the notes that you took in the Planning Document and your results from the Teaching Philosophy Inventory.

If you need to refresh yourself on some of the infomation that's been covered, click on the specific topic below:


After you have completed your draft, you can evaluate it by downloading the Teaching Philosophy Rubric located to the right of the page.



Congratulations, you have completed the module "Developing Your Teaching Philosophy"!

You are now armed with the knowledge to craft a well thought-out statement that will help you feel more self-aware and confident in your teaching.


Remember: Be sure to refer back to and update your statement throughout your teaching career; you may find

that as you grow and experience new things as an instructor, your outlook on teaching and learning will adjust accordingly.


Resources & References









Chism, N. V. N. (1998). Developing a philosophy of teaching statement. Toward the Best in the Academy, 9(3).


Cohen, L. M. (1999). Philosophical perspectives in education. Retrieved from


Ramani, P. N. (2009). Writing a teaching philosophy statement: Why, what and how. Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement, 17-19.