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Developing a Teaching Philosophy

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  1. Developing a Teaching Philosophy Batya Elbaum Department of Teaching and Learning Preparing Future Faculty Workshop March 28, 2009

  2. What is a teaching philosophy? • http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/tutorials/philosophy/index.html • “A teaching philosophy is a self-reflective statement of your beliefs about teaching and learning. In addition to general comments, your teaching philosophy should discuss how you put your beliefs into practice by including concrete examples of what you do or anticipate doing in the classroom.”

  3. What is a teaching philosophy? • “Teaching philosophies are typically between one and four double-spaced pages . . . They are written for two particular audiences. The first is search committees, since teaching philosophies are increasingly becoming part of the academic job search dossier. The second audience is yourself and your colleagues. In this case, the teaching philosophy serves a formative purpose—a document that helps you reflect on and improve your teaching.”

  4. Components • Teaching mission • Learning process • Motivation • Evaluation • Teaching techniques • Student and teacher roles and responsibilities • Supporting a learning community • Expected outcomes

  5. Teaching mission • “. . . my mission as a teacher is threefold: to promote positive learning, to spark learner enthusiasm for learning, and to provide a strong foundation for lifelong learning.” • “I want all my students to understand that their present is the consequence of those historical events so that they are better prepared to act as conscious historical actors themselves once they leave my classroom.”

  6. The learning process • “I believe that learning requires deep understanding that can only come when students internalize and actively apply knowledge in creative and meaningful ways.” • “It is my firm belief that physical concepts cannot be taught or learned merely through lectures and/or reading. These concepts demand the use of an entirely different part of the brain than language and therefore must be examined and practiced in non-verbal ways.”

  7. Motivation • “A teacher may inspire, but students should be actively engaged in the learning process for it to be successful.” • “I emphasize relevance by discussing current events pertinent to biology, by asking students to share their knowledge of the subject, and by discussing how I have found the knowledge useful.”

  8. Evaluation • “I strongly believe that one can employ numerous options to accurately assess understanding of course content among diverse groups of learners.” • “Because I consider the problem-solving process so important, most of my grading is based on problem assignments.”

  9. Teaching techniques • “When necessity compels a primarily lecture presentation, I intersperse my talk with questions designed to allow students to reflect on important points I have raised during the class session, share their reflections with surrounding classmates, and briefly discuss the insights gained from this “think-pair-share” activity as a group before continuing with my discussion.”

  10. Student and teacher roles and responsibilties • Students must agree to take responsibility for their learning … Part of the contract involves the completion of homework assignments so that classroom periods can be used for group work and other activities …”

  11. Supporting a learning community • “. . . it is also my task to ensure that this dialogue is conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and toleration of diverse opinions, an atmosphere “safe” enough so that candid discussion of often uncomfortable topics can take place.” • “I strive to provide an environment where students feel comfortable in expressing their needs and opinions and believe that the entire class benefits and learns from that process.”

  12. Expected outcomes • “As my discipline grows and matures, I am constantly struggling to meet the challenge of passing that knowledge on to my students. But ultimately, I also hope to give them the curiosity and skills that will allow them to participate in the genesis of knowledge.”

  13. Expected outcomes • When a student sees the way in which quantitative theory relates to his/her own work, the concepts become an integral part of how they perceive the world from that point forth. I consider this the most important contribution that I can make.”

  14. Teaching example #1

  15. Teaching example #2 • Chandralekha Singh • Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy • University of Pittsburgh • http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~cls/ • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQra4baNwP8

  16. Teaching example #3 • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhvaDFwmfBY