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Developing a Professional Teaching Philosophy

By Lucinda M. Lear, NCTM (September 2006)
Edited by Debbie Wallace, NCTM (January 2014) 

I. What is a teaching philosophy?
A. A philosophy of teaching statement summarizes:

  1. your concept of teaching and learning
  2. a description of how you teach
  3. an explanation of why, what, and whom you teach

B. The statement may:

  1. demonstrate reflection, perspective and purpose
  2. communicate your goals and expectations (attendance, participation, practice and performance requirements)
  3. explain your choices and preferences (age/level of students; curriculum and materials including repertoire; orientation and long-range overview) 

II. What does it do?
A. It relates directly to your studio policy, and addresses functional aspects of teaching and business management.

B. It anticipates questions from students and parents/families and eliminates many potential misunderstandings.

C. It establishes and clarifies the teacher’s role in determining:

  1. the audition, interview and selection process
  2. curriculum determinations
  3. how to address individual interests and/or learning styles
  4. approaches to ear-training, sight-playing, technique, theory, and ensembles
  5. students’ eligibility and preparation for auditions and competitions
  6. expectations for practice, memorization and performance
  7. parental and family involvement
  8. all scheduling decisions 

III.  Resources:
A. Websites:

  1. http://ftad.osu.edu/portfolio/philosophy/Philosophy.html
  2. www.mtnacertification.org/studyguide.htm  (also Portfolio Guidelines)

B. Texts:

  1. Practical Piano Pedagogy–The Definitive Text for Piano Teachers and Pedagogy Students, Dr. Martha Baker-Jordan, Warner Bros. Publications, 2003
  2. Professional Piano Teaching–A Comprehensive Piano Pedagogy Textbook for Teaching Elementary-Level Students,Jeanine M. Jacobson, Alfred Publishing, 2006

C. Journals:

  1. American Music Teacher, Certification Update, October/November 2006; December/January 2006/2007
  2. Keyboard Companion, Perspectives in Pedagogy, Summer 2006, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 30–33,(Rebecca Grooms Johnson with Peter Webster)