How To Build Your Personal Philosophy of EducationAll Posts
Written by Maria Kampen
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Why did you become a teacher?
Whether it’s in a job interview or a dinner with friends, chances are you’ve been asked some version of that question. But it’s not always an easy question to answer!
Creating a personal philosophy of education can help you articulate your approach to teaching in a clear, concise way. It can also help you express why you think being a teacher is so important.
Whether you’re deciding on a course of action in your classroom or answering interview questions, an educational philosophy can help you make sure you’re sticking close to what matters most to you.
What is a philosophy of education?
A philosophy of education is a set of beliefs and guiding principles for teachers. It helps you make decisions about how you teach your students.
It’s also a useful tool when it comes time to communicate your beliefs to other people, including:
- Your teaching team
- School administrators
- Potential employers in a job interview
Some educational philosophies are short and sweet, while others are one to two pages long and have more detail. Shorter versions are appropriate for a quick summary on a classroom website or resume.
Basic examples of educational philosophies
Every teacher is different — and so are their educational philosophies!
Dr. Josh Prieur, director of educational efficacy at Prodigy Education, notes that “as you develop your philosophy of education, a best practice is to lean on research-based best practices and understand how to leverage technology and other resources appropriately.”
As a teacher, you should be able to articulate the research and theories you believe in. “You’ll write many educational philosophies, and you should constantly revisit them,” says Prieur. “It really is fundamental to who you are as an educator.”
We also asked teachers from Prodigy’s Champions Club what their educational philosophies are. Here’s what they said:
“Every student is capable of learning. Parents and teachers are a team working together for their child’s education. Inquiry and discovery are the basis for lifelong learning. These are things that I believe, without them, teaching would be ineffective or pointless!” | Samantha H., teacher
“My educational philosophy is to guide students to be independent learners who have a lifelong desire to learn and use a growth mindset.” | Diana C., teacher
“I believe the purpose of education is to ensure all students learn and grow to the best of their ability. I believe students learn best when they are shown exactly how to do something and are given a path to follow. Also, students learn through their learning style and as an educator it’s my job to teach them using all three learning styles.” | Carrie H., teacher
Most teachers don’t subscribe to only one hard-lined philosophy in practice. Taking ideas from a few different schools of thought can help strengthen and balance your teaching approach.
Sample teaching philosophies to help you create your own
- Structure and repetition is key. Teachers should work from well-organized plans and schedules in a consistent manner so students have a supportive learning environment.
- Teachers must hold students to high expectations. Every student has the ability to succeed, given the right teaching methods, resources and support. It’s the teacher’s job to encourage students to be diligent and strive for growth in their learning.
- Students need effective tools and resources. Teachers should have access to a wide variety of excellent learning and educational resources in order to fully support student learning.
- Teachers should be great examples. A person in leadership has a responsibility to lead by example. This will cover many aspects, but teachers should model respect, discipline and problem-solving for their students.
- Teachers offer the gift of learning. An educator's job is to guide students through the principles of learning and fulfill their need for education. A teacher's gift to their students should be motivating them to continue to learn, and helping them succeed in the process through good classroom management, solid educational theory and consistent teaching practices.
- Learning goes beyond the classroom. Everyone, from parents to teachers to members of the community, has a role to play in developing a well-rounded education. Involving stakeholders in the education process in a meaningful way helps students understand multiple perspectives and build critical thinking skills.
- Feedback, in both directions, is a key part of the learning process. While teachers generally give feedback to students in the form of assignments, regular communication and feedback can help improve teaching. Short feedback forms and creating a culture where students feel safe to speak out can improve the quality of learning for teachers and students.
Because there are so many different facets to teaching, many teachers have teaching statements made up of several paragraphs, with each paragraph organized around a key idea.
As you progress in your teaching career, it’s natural for your beliefs and attitudes to change. Revisit your educational philosophy frequently to make sure it’s still up to date and aligned with your current practices.
Questions to ask within your own philosophy
You know how you want to teach, but it’s not always easy to articulate your beliefs in writing. We’ve put together a list of questions you can ask yourself to help clarify your view and provide a starting point for your own teaching philosophy.
- What does effective learning look like in your classroom? Do you prioritize engagement? Learning for mastery?
- What kinds of goals do you set for your students? How do you encourage them? Do you set the goals, or do you ask for their input?
- How do you interact with students? What kind of relationship do you have with students? How do you build trust in the classroom?
- What types of assessment do you use? How do you determine mastery? Which assessment styles do you think are the most effective?
- What is the purpose of education in society? Is it for social justice, to build good citizens, to prepare students for life outside of school or something else?
- What qualities should good teachers possess? Patience, compassion and authority are all qualities you need as a teacher — but what’s most important to you?
- What kind of learning environment do you want to create? Is your classroom individualized or collaborative? Do you use a lot of technology, or prefer an analog approach?
- How do you approach differences in learning styles? Do you use differentiation, unique resources, tailored teaching methods or other pedagogical approaches to reach all students?
- What helps students learn effectively? This answer can change depending on whether you teach high school or elementary school, but what are your core teaching strategies? How flexible are you willing to be?
- What do you see as the teacher’s role in learning? Is your teaching style more student-centered or teacher-centered? How does hands-on learning or techniques like inquiry-based learning fit into your classroom?
Your philosophy of education doesn’t have to answer every single question. But it should give a big-picture perspective on who you are as a teacher, and what you value.
Prodigy's philosophy of education
At Prodigy Education, we’re always working to define our approach to education and our beliefs about how we can support students, teachers and parents to help them learn best.
Prodigy’s educational philosophy centers around using motivation as an anchor for building a lifelong life of learning. Here’s how we’re doing it:
Leveraging student motivation helps develop a lifelong love of learning
When students are excited to learn, they’re more likely to persevere through new skills and hard problems. Prodigy is designed to help students stay focused through a game-based learning platform that makes practicing math skills fun.
To maximize student motivation, Prodigy uses research-based pedagogical approaches to put learners at the center of everything we do, whether it’s:
- Building an engaging math game
- Creating an accessible tutoring platform
- Offering tools to help parents and teachers support students
- Developing Prodigy English, a world-building game designed to help students practice key ELA skills
Our approach to personalized learning combines an adaptive algorithm with teacher tools that help you differentiate math practice in just a few clicks, so the individual needs of students are always front and center.
To support both our pedagogical approaches and motivation first approach, Prodigy has been reviewed by researchers at Digital Promise and awarded their Learner Variability Certification. This independent certification examined Prodigy’s support for differing learner needs and found that Prodigy uses rigorous research to underpin the design of Prodigy Math Game.
Constantly refining your learning process
An educator’s work is never done — and neither is your educational philosophy!
To make sure your philosophy reflects current best practices, your own learning and new research or technology, seek out information from subject matter experts and other teachers:
- On the Prodigy Blog
- On Instagram or Twitter
- In online or physical education journals
- In communities like Prodigy’s Facebook teacher community
When your educational philosophy is aligned with what you’re doing in your classroom, everyone benefits — including your students!
Prodigy Math Game is an adaptive, game-based learning platform that offers time-saving tools for teachers. Easily differentiate, motivate and assess learning when you sign up for your free teacher account today.