You will be required to submit an
up-to-date philosophy with your student teaching application; many districts
require applicants to submit a philosophy along with other material. Your
philosophy is a statement of PERSONAL beliefs and how these will be put into
action in your classroom - the philosophy is not a theoretical essay on
education but an action plan for you. It is often used by administrators
to judge whether the applicant is the "kind of person that I would want in my
school or teaching my children.:
Note that your philosophy will change
as you mature in the profession and gain additional experiences; it is
sometimes a good idea to save copies of your earlier philosophies and compare
them to your current philosophy to more clearly understand how your approach to
education changes. As you develop your philosophy, some of the items you
may wish to address include:
the purpose of education
the role of the student in
the role of the teacher in
the role of the teacher in the
You may wish to approach the development of your philosophy by
considering the following
Why do you want to Teach?
Whom are you going to Teach?
Specifically, how will you reach the wide diversity of
children that you will have in your classroom?
How do you define your community of learners?
How and What are going to Teach?
What are your beliefs about how children learn?
How will these beliefs impact your teaching? for example
How do you balance the needs of individual learners with the
needs of the entire class
What are your goals for your students?
Where are you going to Teach?
How will you bring a global awareness into your classroom?
What will be your relationship with the community, parents,
teaching colleagues, administration?
As you write your philosophy, keep the following in your
Your educational philosophy reflects your own approach to education;
this philosophy should be based on your personal beliefs, which in turn should show an
influence of college work, readings, and thinkers. Consequently, when appropriate,
"drop names" in your philosophy. For example, "As
Erikson, I believe
that children go through a series of mini-crisis as they mature and it will
be part of my task is to
assist young people in making these transitions." However, be sure you understand the
philosophy of the person being quoted since you may be asked questions about it at an
Appropriate grammar is mandatory; among other things, be careful with
Watch agreement - for example, "The student should do all of their
Be sure to write using COMPLETE sentences.
Use only one idea for each paragraph and be sure to provide a transition
between paragraphs. Use topic sentences.
Be aware of you change voice in the paper, i.e., "As teachers, we
should treat the parents with respect; they need to understand that parents must be part
of the solution." or "It is important for everyone to ... thus you should not be
critical of ..."
Alternate the use of "she" and "he" to avoid the clumsy phrasing or "she
following are some of the things that you can address in your philosophy
philosophy does not have a cover page; be sure your name and title is on the
first page of your philosophy.
You cannot write an educational philosophy in one paragraph!
Your educational philosophy should have an introduction and a
conclusion; your conclusion should provide a "logical" ending to your
Avoid using the same phrase over and over in your philosophy. For
example, avoid using the word "teacher" several times in the same paragraph or
near each other - check your thesaurus for alternative choices of words.
Your philosophy should be positive. While there may well be
problems with our educational system, a prospective employer does not really want to hear
how bad things are - s/he is interested in what you are going to do to make the classroom
experience a better one of the students. You are writing a personal philosophy, not
a critique of the educational system.
Avoid the use of jargon. If you do use "educational
jargon", explain how you are going to impact the student. For example, rather
than writing "I strongly belief in inclusion." write "I believe that
inclusion is a key ingredient in the makeup of the classroom and I will support inclusion
through practices such as using alternative assessments and preparing lessons which appeal
to different learning styles."
Your philosophy, along with your letter of interest, are among the first
things a prospective employer will see. The appearance of these documents is
important. Your word processor may have some pre-formatted documents, such as
resumes) that you can use as a starting point.
Under no circumstances, should you mail anything (except personal
letters of reference) that is not prepared on a word processor or typewriter.
Avoid the use of different fonts
on a page; use the most "readable" font available - you may have to
experiment a bit to get the possible font - remember, what looks good on a
screen may look different when printed.
Use a font that is easy to read
and of an appropriate size - avoid any fonts under 12 cpi.
Avoid broad generalizations - while you may want to say "I
believe that all children can learn" - the statement is relatively
meaningless without examples of how you will put that into action.
Avoid overly complex sentences, vague or which offer
Your philosophy should be POSITIVE - we know there are
problems in education - we do not want to read about those in your own
philosophy - rather we want to read how you will make a difference!
Use some of the information in in your book, i.e., from the
section on philosophies, to include in your own philosophy.
Some suggestions on word usage:
"I believe..." is more forceful than, "My belief is ..."
Instead of "Education should ..." or "I will try ..." be
more positive and use "I believe that ..." or "I will ..."
Avoid the use of "I hope..." or "Hopefully ..." for
something more positive, such as "I will ..."
Rather than writing "In school students should experience
...." use "In my classroom, students will experience ..."
Instead of writing "Teachers will ... " use "I will ..."
Have someone review your philosophy for accuracy and eye catching
If you are looking for some good websites that also offer
information about writing your philosophies, several good ones are
In terms of appearance, there are
several factors to keep in mind. Thanks to Bill Baber, a list of
suggestions is offered for you:
- don't use more than 3 font styles per page, as
it makes the content harder to read
- do use serif fonts (like Times New Roman) if
the font is small (10 point or smaller) - although anything 10 or smaller
should be avoided.
- non-serif fonts (like Arial) are fine for normal- to large-size fonts (11
point or larger)
- Interesting historical tidbit - fonts are
measured in "picas". Traditional fonts originally measured 72 picas to the
inch; thus one character at a font size of 72 should measure one inch.
Theoretically, six characters in a 12-point font should equal one inch, but
this is not always the case with more modern fonts.
- when thinking through a page layout, make your
style consistent throughout the document (i.e., don't left-justify some things
and right-justify others)
- when creating documents with page numbers on
opposite sides (such as folded handouts or booklets), always print a mock-up
and actually fold it BEFORE you send it to a printer
- -use the Character Map feature for European or
other foreign characters (such as em dashes, German/Scandinavian umlauts,
French accents, etc.)
- be careful choosing colors - high-contrast is
best (black on white background for text, though light fonts on a dark
background works well for headings or sidebars). Avoid using bright
backgrounds or fonts (except briefly for signs), as this quickly tires the
- be careful when you use
full-justification (both left and right). Long words tend to throw off the
sense of balance and can create large spaces that detract from one's reading.
However, you can overcome this by playing around with actual font manipulation
(in Word, choose Format, Font, then Character spacing - try it).
- get the text on paper BEFORE you format it
(write, edit, then format just before you print)
- finally, less is more (aim for clarity above
For additional information, download
the PDF file,
How to Write a Statement of Teaching Philosophy which appeared in
the Chronicle of Higher Education.