Teaching Philosophies, Teaching Portfolios

“Documenting Your Teaching: Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement”

September 2015 – Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teach

  • What are your teaching values, and how do you teach – manifest these values? (Philosophy, Operationalization)

Formative vs. Summative Statements – informative, diagnostic vs. public decision-making

Research the campus teaching culture, adapt your philosophy toward this — you don’t necessarily need to have just ONE teaching philosophy. Personalize this to you – your ideals, your discipline, your school.

You can offer your competencies in learning management platform (Blackboard, Moodle, etc.), but BRIEFLY.

Good Teaching Philosophies – Send this to Bill Burke @ CELT for review. Do this by next week for Emeriti.

1-2.5 pages in length, use of present tense and first person, reduce use of jargon

  • Who and what do you teach (undergraduate sociology students )
  • Teaching goals, learning outcomes (“critical thinkers” — but how do you get them to practice critical thinking?)
  • How do you think of yourself as a teacher (facilitator, connector)
  • How do you think students learn best?
  • How do you teach, assess – and why?
  • How do you SPECIFICALLY implement your philosophy? (Let the reader “see” you in action.”)
    • What sets you apart from other instructors – exercises, activities, approaches?
      • Theories at the lower-level — encouraging abstract thought from the first course
      • Portfolio projects – proposals, projects, agency interviews
    • Show how you reflect on your teaching, your practice, and how you plan on growing in the near future (CELT workshops, changes to courses based on student feedback, gaining external departmental, peer feedback)

“I believe, I encourage, I feel”

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Don’t say “my students” — “students in general,” etc.
  • Seriously, include your who/what you teach and give examples
  • Just include your teaching philosophy in whatever application materials you send, regardless of their requesting it or not
  • BRING (and ‘memorize’) your teaching portfolio to any campus visits – be prepared to talk about it, be prepared to leave it with the interviewing team

Strong words?

How to condense varied teaching experience (multiple classes) that have developed over time?

  • Express the fact that you have a lot of experience with a lot of different levels, types of teaching, courses … sample some of your best and brightest, but reflect honestly that your courses change based upon the capacities of lower/upper-level students
  • Mention and rely upon your teaching portfolio as a strong supplement. This is just an “intro paragraph” to the rest of your portfolio’s “body.”
  • Mention this in your philosophy, offer multiple iterations of your course syllabus if it demonstrates significant re-development

Assembling a Teaching Portfolio (about 50 pages – be selective)

  • Utilize a Table of Contents to help organize and guide your reader; clearly mark your sections (maybe with tabs?)
  • If you note that you “value” something in your teaching philosophy, you BETTER offer an example of it in your portfolio.
  • You may want to include a philosophy statement about advising — how do you advise? (But really, check with your department – many schools don’t need or WANT this.)
  • Representative is key – don’t include ALL documents, syllabi, assignments – select ones that best represent you, your philosophy, and your teaching style — OR, your most recent one for each course taught
  • Adjust your portfolio toward the audience that assesses it – some institutions will have required segments
  • Student letters of recommendation (dates aren’t really important on these)
  • Don’t leave out negative comments or student evaluation scores — portfolios are a place for you to respond (personal issues, experimental methods — use this negative feedback as a place to reflect — demonstrate that you’re CONSIDERING feedback, and willing to adjust your teaching style to accommodate student and departmental feedback.
  • Offer CELT, department, peer evaluations – mid-semester feedback through CELT
    • What’s helping you learn? What suggestions do you have to help you with the learning experience?
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