Job Interview Answer: What Is Your Teaching Philosophy?

Determining and Developing Your Approach

male teacher with tablet in hand in front of blackboard
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Your teaching philosophy is a reflection of your education and classroom experience, developed during college or graduate school and in the classrooms where you've taught. It defines your overall approach to teaching and is the guiding principle behind how you run your classroom. To prepare for your interview, take the time to focus, write, and reflect on your personal philosophy.

Determining Your Teaching Philosophy

Even if your interviewer doesn't ask you what your philosophy is, you may want to incorporate it into your interview.

When an interviewer asks if there is anything else you would like to add about yourself, that would be an appropriate time to highlight your philosophy.

If you don't have a personal teaching philosophy, develop a few key points and jot them down. Your teaching philosophy should be a self-reflective statement about your beliefs; discuss how you put your beliefs into practice by providing examples of how you've put your philosophy into action.

Teaching styles and methods change over time as you mature throughout your career, so review your philosophy from time to time, update it, and make changes when necessary. Stick to your beliefs, but also stay open to change and growth and the need to perhaps adjust your philosophy accordingly in  sync with the needs of the school you're applying to.

Avoid Generic Answers

Ideally, you can express your overall teaching philosophy in a sentence or two, and then take a couple minutes (or a few paragraphs) to explain it.

Avoid generic and self-evident statements, like "Everybody deserves a chance to learn." Sure, it's broad and applicable to many classrooms–dealing with economic inequalities, working with a range of students from gifted to those learning English, and addressing students with behavioral challenges. Everybody deserve an equal opportunity.

But would anyone argue with that? Is it a unique and personal philosophy? Hardly. Here are some sample teaching philosophies demonstrating a range of answers.

Teaching Philosophies: Sample Answers

The Classroom:

I believe the classroom is a living and thriving community--everyone, from the principal to the students and parents has to work to contribute to and maintain a positive atmosphere.

Everyone in the classroom contributes as a student, teacher, and thinker. I learn from students as much as they learn from me.

I respect each person's thoughts and feelings in the classroom--students, teaching assistants and parents.

Learning:

Give students choices rather than directives and they will feel empowered to learn.

All students are individual and everyone learns in their own unique way.

Learning is a lifelong process and I want to instill that passion in my students.

Teaching:

Teachers should expect great things from everybody, regardless of skill, talent, ability, or disability.

Teachers should engage with students personally as well as academically. I respect Whitney Elementary School in Memphis, where teachers walk their 200 kids home after school to get them back safely while gaining additional time to interact with them outside the classroom.

You can't teach everything to everyone and true learning requires many different types of knowledge. I use multiple methods of teaching (linguistic, visual, auditory, kinesthetic) to speak to students.

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