Teaching Philosophy

A teaching portfolio is a collection of documents that together provide a record of:

• The ideas and objectives that inform your teaching
• The courses you teach or are prepared to teach
• The methods you use
• Your effectiveness as a teacher
• How you assess and improve your teaching

• Clarify what you believe good teaching to be.
• Explain what you hope to achieve in teaching.
• Contextualize your teaching strategies and other evidence of teaching effectiveness.
• Promote and provide an opportunity for reflection and professional development in teaching.
• Provide a means for others to learn from your experiences.

Example of Teaching Philosophy

ESL student (Brazil): 

“Olivia was the best teacher I have had here at <school>: despite her being American, her pronunciation was very accessible, and the classes were interesting, which is difficult to manage in a vacation course, when classes could become monotonous [4 hrs/day, 4 days/wk].  Despite having received the lowest grade of my life (55%) in this class, I can say that it is the class in which I learned the most English.”

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My primary goal as a teacher is to stretch my students: to challenge them with high standards, tempt them with fascinating material, and support them as they reach out.  I diverse student bodies (from middle-schoolers to adults, even other teachers). In all cases, I exercise unfailing honesty with my students: I don’t placate them with high grades, but am willing to work with them toward improvement.  Both my students and supervisors have reacted positively to my high bar: amazingly, some students even expressed gratitude despite low grades, and some who failed sought to repeat courses with me (instead of other teachers).  I’ve thus had the great pleasure of watching students grow farther in a semester than they ever believed possible, and of sharing with them this joy of success. 

This level of commitment to teaching requires considerable effort, flexibility, and creativity on my part.  As anyone who has taught knows, simply explaining information or techniques in the way that first made sense to us is rarely helpful for all students.  Rather, we must step back and examine the material from other perspectives, seeking different structure and angles from which to approach it. I have consistently invested in improving my teaching: through development and application of student feedback mechanisms, participation in professional development programs, and research into teaching.  It is my goal to evolve continually as a teacher. I set a high standard for students, and a high standard for myself.  We stride towards this together: with patience and good humor, passion and flexibility.  It’s been a wonderful journey thus far.