Developing Your Teaching and Learning Philosophy Statement


Gesa Ruge

Gesa Ruge, Assistant Professor, Discipline of Built Environment and Design, University of Canberra, Australia.


Coralie McCormack: Adjunct Professor, University of Canberra, Australia.













Workshop Learning Outcomes

On completion of this workshop, participants will have:

  1. Articulated personal understandings and approaches to teaching and learning
  2. Identified a teaching and learning philosophy statement structure with draft content for further development and continued reflection
  3. Developed grounding for ongoing reflection and identified linkages to educational practice.
  1. Welcome and Introductions (10 mins)

2. What is a teaching philosophy statement? (5 mins)

“Beginning the teaching philosophy is often the hardest part of writing one. The motivations behind the decisions we make in the classroom can be surprisingly elusive when we try to put them on paper.” (O’Neal, C., Meizlish, D., & Kaplan, M. (2007). Writing a statement of teaching philosophy for the academic job search. Centre for Research on Learning and Teaching Occasional Paper no. 23. Available at:

3. Reflecting on learning and teaching values and beliefs 

3.1 Exploring values and beliefs through metaphors (15 mins)

“Metaphors offer a great way to help create images for others of what teaching means to you. For example, the metaphor of an octopus might evoke the image of a teacher with many ‘arms’ reaching out to the needs of many students…By studying your own teaching metaphors, you can reflect on the methods and practices that accompany particular metaphors and how they impact your classroom.” (Source:

Prior to the workshop read the ‘Purple professor says’ examples of teaching philosophy statements from the Canadian Society for Learning and Teaching Newsletter (Fall 2011, No. 58, p. 3, <>) some of which use metaphors, then respond to the following two questions:

  • What metaphor describes you as a teacher?
  • Explain how this metaphor characterises you as a teacher.

During the workshop:   Share your responses to the two questions above with colleagues.

Continuing reflection following the workshop

  • Provide an example from your teaching experience that illustrates your metaphor.
  • In what way(s) does this metaphor guide your teaching?

3.2 Exploring values and beliefs through the Teaching Perspective Inventory (TPI) (15 mins)

“This inventory will help you identify your perspectives on teaching.”  (Source:

During the workshop:

  • Answer six questions from one page of the Teaching Perspectives Inventory.
  • Discuss your responses with colleagues.

 Continuing reflection following the workshop:

  • Answer some additional questions of your choice and discuss your responses with a colleague.
  1. Teaching and learning philosophy frameworks: Exploring examples  (30 mins)

There seems to be general agreement across the literature on what goes into a teaching philosophy statement.

4.1 HERDSA-TATAL framework questions to provoke individual or collaborative critical reflection:

  • Why is being a teacher important to you?
  • What personal experience(s) motivate/inform your teaching today? Why is this experience important enough to remember today?
  • What do you believe about teaching?
  • What do you believe about learning?
  • Why do you hold these beliefs?
  • How are these beliefs played out in your teaching context?

(Source: McCormack, C., & Kennelly, R., (2011). ‘We must get together and really talk…’. Connection, engagement and safety sustain learning and teaching conversation communities. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 12(4), pp. 515–531.)

4.2 Schonwetter’s framework for a teaching philosophy

(Schonwetter, D. J., Sokal, L., Friesen, M., & Taylor, K. L. (2002). Teaching philosophies reconsidered: A conceptual model for the development and evaluation of teaching philosophy statements. The International Journal for Academic Development, 7(1), pp. 83-97.)

4.3 Chism’s framework for a teaching philosophy

(Chism, N. V. N. (1998). Developing a philosophy of teaching statement. Essays on Teaching Excellence, 9(3), 1-2. Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education. <>)

 During the workshop:

  • Free writing time: ‘Why is being a teacher important to you?’

Continuing reflection following the workshop:

  • Consider which of the three frameworks you might like to adopt?
  1. Conclusion and Feedback (15 mins)

Group sharing and reflection on the question: Why is being a teacher important to you?


Schonell, S., Gilchrist, J., Kennelly, R., McCormack, C., Northcote, M., Ruge, G., & Treloar, G. (2016). TATAL Talking about teaching and learning - Teaching Philosophy Workbook Sydney, Australia: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA).

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