Articulating Your Teaching Philosophy
A teaching philosophy can be defined as your beliefs and values as they relate to teaching. Your philosophy is a combination of methods you studied and lessons learned during work experiences.
In more simpler words; a teaching philosophy is what you belief is the right way to educate students. What styles you will use in the classroom to make sure your students reach their maximum potential.
For you to create a teaching philosophy you have to understand teaching first and as I’m sure you know, teaching goes alongside learning methodologies. You have to understand how children learn individually and collectively.
Learning methodologies normally include a list of ways students learn best. For example you get students that are more inclined to retain information when it is presented through audio cues, while others learn better when information is presented through visual cues. Some learners need to do the work practically in groups while others thrive working alone. Here is a list of the four top learning methods.
- Visual learner – This learner is stimulated by pictures, images, video clips and illustrations.
- Auditory learner – This learner excels at listening exercises.
- Verbal learner – Someone who likes to talk and use their words to express themselves through speech and writing.
- Physical (Kinesthetic) learner – Active learners who learn through movement.
Extra reading: The Eight Types of Learning Styles
Once you understand that students learn through different methods you can study methods of teaching to make sure that you meet diverse students needs.
There are several teaching methods when teaching English to a student who is learning it for the first time. What method you use all depends on your student’s learning style and your situation (setting, available resources etc.)
Here are a few basic teaching methods you could use in your classroom when teaching English as a foreign language.
- Aural approach
This teaching method focuses on listening and speaking rather than reading and writing. Using a lot of dialogue, music and audio will trigger student’s curiosity and they will start repeating words and songs.
This method works better for very young learners who are not in school and whose fine motor skills aren’t developed yet.
- Grammatical approach
This is the fact-based approach. Focus on the language’s grammar rules and structures. You should enforce the grammar rules when students speak and write. It will be an extra bonus of teacher can speak the native language of the student to help translate the rules. Teacher need to provide many examples of the correct grammar use and should have the knowledge of these set rules.
This method works better for older students. Students need to have a big vocabulary bank and their retention level should also be great.
- English-Only approach
Many teachers use the “Only English“ approach. Students aren’t allowed to speak in their own language and they are forced to remember basic instructions in order for them to survive in the classroom. They are forced to ask simple questions like: “Eraser, please,“ “I want to go to the toilet,“ “Please,“ and “Thank you!“ This method is challenging to the teacher because they need to have set instructions that they use over and over again in order for students to remember them. Explaining words, sentence structures without translating it can be tricky and takes extra skills.
This method works for English teachers who can’t speak the language.
- TPR approach
Using TPR (Total Physical Response) for teaching English. Using gestures and movements that students mimic in order to remember the vocabulary. This method works best for young learners.
Have a look at Teacher Jenny’s explanation of the TPR method:
- Task or Project-based approach
Students get specific tasks or projects to complete. By doing this they learn to apply the language that they’ve learned. For example they have to make lapbooks about the topic you’ve introduced. (What is a Lapbook?)
Or they have a bigger project where they have to go into a supermarket and buy groceries from a set list while asking questions in English. You could set up a make-believe cinema in your classroom where students have to act out going to cinema, buying tickets and snacks and then watching a short movie over which they have to answer questions on later.
This kind of approach is a modern teaching style and can be used for students of all ages and levels.
Of course, there are many more approaches that you can research and find. You don’t have to stick to one approach, you can alter and change it to fit your students needs as well as your own skills.
Baljit Kaur writes all about the understanding of teaching and learning in his book subtitled “Classroom Research revisited“ here is a link to the full book Understanding Teaching and Learning for some extra inspiration.
Finding your Teaching Philosophy
A lot of teachers believe that they are born to teach! This is true, teachers need to be passionate about what they are doing. They need to be enthusiastic and positive about the language that they are teaching and the students in their classroom. Teachers should try to get the best out of all students, those with high abilities and better retention and the students who are a little bit slower and need a little bit more time.
Develop your teaching philosophy by thinking about what you truly belief for students in your class. What do you want them to achieve and how do you want to nurture them to try and reach these achievements. What kind of teacher do you want to be? If your answer is: “I want the students to like me,“ or “I want to be their friend.“ You should re-evaluate what you think teaching and being a teacher are. To help you develop your teaching philosophy, write down your answers to the following questions.
- What was the best teaching experience you’ve had in a classroom with a student?
- Who was your favorite teacher when you were younger? Why? What did this teacher do to inspire you?
- What are you trying to achieve when teaching your students?
- Why is teaching important to you?
- What kind of teaching styles/methods do you use?
- Why are you using these approaches? Do you believe that they are productive?
- What role do you play as a teacher in a student’s life?
- What are your goals for your students? What are your goals for yourself?
- What do I belief about grading and assessing my students?
- How will I encourage meaningful learning, critical/creative thinking and interest in my classroom?
Once you’ve answered these questions you’ll have a clearer view of what you want as a teacher. You can write down your teaching philosophy to make sure you stay focused and have a perspective of what your goals are.
Here is a great site that can help you write your statements: Writing Your Teaching Philosophy
Examples of Teaching Philosophies
It’s a good idea to look at other teacher’s philosophies. Rather be inspired by their statements than adapting it to fit yours. Create your own.
These are a few of our favorite statements:
“My philosophy of education is that all children are unique and must have a stimulating educational environment where they can grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. It is my desire to create this type of atmosphere where students can meet their full potential. I will provide a safe environment where students are invited to share their ideas and take risks.”
“I believe that a classroom should be a safe, caring community where children are free to speak their mind and blossom and grow. I will use strategies to ensure out classroom community will flourish. Strategies like the morning meeting, positive vs. negative discipline, classroom jobs, and problem-solving skills. Teaching is a learning process; learning from your students, colleagues, parents, and the community. This is a lifelong process where you learn new strategies, new ideas, and new philosophies. Over time, my educational philosophy may change, and that’s okay. That just means that I have grown, and learned new things.”
Turning Philosophy into Action
Have a look at Abigail Spiwak’s teaching philosophy. Not only does she have a teaching philosophy but she has an action plan on how to achieve these objectives.
How can you turn your teaching philosophies into reality? Put in the effort to reach your goals for your students. You will be amazed by your results.