A teaching philosophy statement plays a bigger role than ever in getting an online teaching job. Last week we looked at 20 Steps to your new online teaching CV, and this week I will explain what a teaching philosophy is, how to turn it into a statement to market yourself, and how to document it for the online teaching job search.
A teaching philosophy statement, whether standalone or integrated into your CV, is essentially a statement indicating what your theory of education is, what model you follow, why education is important to you, and then how this is put into practice in your course room.
There are two types of teaching philosophy statements. The first is the longer philosophy statement that is often a full page. I recommend starting the first paragraph with an introduction to your philosophy and beliefs about education. You can integrate theory about instruction into this initial paragraph if you like. In the second paragraph, you can elaborate more on your teaching style, how education has influenced you and why you find it valuable to others. A good thing to ask yourself is, "if someone came to me asking if they should pursue an education, how would I answer and why?" Remember you should be writing this in first person and do not feel as though you have to leave emotion out of it. Showing passion for education is good in my opinion and I have seen it positively correlated with getting teaching jobs.
Next, if you are comfortable, I suggest explaining a bit about why and how education has played a role in your own life. Personal stories and examples can help convey the meaning and value of education to you. You should also elaborate on what you find most important to students. Is it engagement? Is it retention? Is it leading by example? Feel free to explain as many of these elements as you feel comfortable doing. Finally, you should wrap it up with a paragraph identifying how a dean, should he or she visit your online classroom, would see evidence of your philosophy carried out into the class. Essentially the first element is theory, the second is practice and the third is application.
This is of course the longer version of the philosophy, which is often uploaded as a separate document into human resources job application systems. However, I highly recommend also integrating the teaching philosophy statement into your CV, as the very first thing after your contact information. Not only does this show that you "get" education and the requirements today, but it will help you convey a message to deans or human resources professionals as soon as they review your CV. It will also bump up the keywords for searching, which is important (particularly so when there is a job pool where thousands of candidates may apply and you want to stand out among them).
The version on your CV will be a shorter, more concise version of the longer teaching philosophy statement. When I write teaching statements when writing CVs for clients (which can also be used as the entire comprehensive philosophy statement - they do not need to be different) I write two paragraphs.
The first paragraph is theory and practice (why the client wants to teach, what his or her methodology or theory of education is, and if the client is comfortable, a little bit of personal information that explains the value the client places on education). I am sure to use accurate keywords that describe my client, such as "retention focused" or "highly engaged with learners" or "strong communicator in the classroom".
The second paragraph is all about evidence! How would the boss/dean/manager who is logged into my client's course see evidence of the theoretical components taking place in class? Would the dean see my client highly engaged in discussions? Sharing experience? Providing thorough feedback and ways to improve?
The teaching philosophy statement should convey your passion and dedication to the profession, and thoughtfully identify ways in which others will see evidence of your beliefs in the classroom.
Next week I will continue to add to this and elaborate on getting that very first online teaching position. To be sure you do not miss the next post "Asking for and compiling letter of references for your online teaching job search" and the rest of the series and valuable information subscribe to our newsletter