Personal Philosophy

Developing a Personal Philosophy for Creating a Positive Learning Community

What makes a good teacher? Looking at the philosophies of pre-service teachers and asking them to answer questions related to teaching and classroom management, most teachers reflect and include ideas from their own experiences as a student or ideas directly reflective of their master teacher's philosophies, especially if the student teacher has had a positive experience. (Hamman, Olivarez, & Stevens, 2006-2007). Based on each individual teacher's ideas, pre-service teachers implement different ideas for creating a classroom management plan for working with students. Reflecting and determining personal ideas or philosophies help to guide the teacher in designing a classroom that meets the needs of both the teacher and the students. It is usually difficult for pre-service teachers to express philosophies of teaching and classroom management because pre-service teachers lack the experience and skills to understand how all of the elements of the classroom work together; however, it is important for these teachers to reflect how they would like the classroom to operate. A plan should be in place to establish procedures that, in turn, help to set routines freeing teachers for more academic pursuits in the classroom.

The word philosophy is of Ancient Greek origin (philosophía), meaning "love of wisdom." A teaching philosophy is a statement of a systematic and critical rationale that focuses on the important components defining teaching and learning in a particular discipline or content. More simply, it is why you do what you do. Why should a teacher have a philosophy of teaching and learning? One's teaching philosophy clarifies what good teaching is. It guides teaching behaviors. It promotes personal and professional growth and encourages effective teaching (Schonwetter, Dieter, Sokal, Friesen, and Taylor, (2002).

Generally, a philosophy of teaching should include the following components:

  • Definition of teaching.
  • Definition of learning.
  • View of the learner.
  • Goals and expectations of the student-teacher relationship.
  • Discussion of teaching methods.
  • Discussion of evaluation (Schonwetter et al, 2002).

Framing a philosophy of teaching should consider how teaching fits into the institutional, faculty, and the program-specific goals and objectives of the organization. Using critical incidents or metaphors as building blocks for a philosophy helps to organize ideas more concisely. The incidents or metaphors should be kept short (Schonwetter et al., 2002).

Writing a philosophy of classroom management and teaching can be as simple as brainstorming ideas for working with students, organizing those ideas into topics, and elaborating on each topic. The process might include answering questions about one's personal beliefs for working with students. Philosophies will evolve with experiences in the classroom and continue to change as teachers pursue additional degrees and participate in staff development opportunities.


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