What’s Your Teaching Philosophy Statement?

As director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Southern Methodist University, Michael Harris relies on advice from his colleagues when crafting and tweaking his teaching philosophy statement. On Monday, Harris posted his nearly 800-word statement to his Higher Ed Professor blog. In doing so, he says he hopes it will prompt educators to give more forethought as they prepare to craft their own statements. Harris addresses broad pedagogical themes and practices, but also offers specifics about how he personally approaches instruction. Here is an excerpt:

The relationship between professor, subject matter, and student is a primary consideration in fostering learning and as a result my instructional approach mirrors this belief.

During each class session, I present a challenge, puzzle, or problem that students are unable to solve without utilizing and engaging with the subject matter. My role is to be keenly aware of student responses and comments in order to connect with students and improve their learning and understanding.

This approach takes various forms depending on the nightly topic.

For example, in EDU 6392: Foundations and History of American Higher Education, one of the topics is “Higher Education for a Freed People.” I split the class into two groups where one represents Booker T. Washington and the other W.E.B. Dubois.

The class debates the merits of the postsecondary philosophies espoused by Washington and Dubois through the use of primary source material with students often vigorously arguing for their assigned position.

Read Harris’s post, then tell us this: What’s your teaching philosophy? Feel free to provide an shortened excerpt or share your thoughts on Harris’s statement.

Check out Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching ‘Teaching Statements’ page, which includes guidelines and question prompts for how to write one.

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