Most teachers know that students need portfolios to showcase their work, but when it comes to creating their own professional portfolio, it's a task that's easy to put off. But the truth is, you need to maintain a portfolio.
On a personal level, the process of putting together your portfolio gives you a chance to reflect on what you've done and document the practices you'd like to do again or pass on to others. On a practical level, it's a tool you can use to move on from one teaching job to the next. It's a record of your successes, and it should be put together in a way that is easy for future employers to gain a snapshot of your skills, experience, creativity, and devotion to the profession. Here are some guidelines on what to include:
- Background Information
- Your resume
- Your educational philosophy and teaching goals
- Teaching Artifacts and Reflections That Document an Extended Teaching Activity
- Overview of your instructional plans and goals for a particular unit
- List of resources used in the unit
- Two consecutive lesson plans
- Video or DVD of you teaching
- Samples of your students' work
- Your evaluation of student work
- Your reflective commentary on the teaching activity
- Additional units/lessons/student work, as appropriate
- Professional Information
- List of your professional activities
- Letters of recommendation
- Formal evaluations
Although portfolios vary in form and content depending on their purpose, the heart of the portfolio is the teaching artifacts and written reflections.
Further, the artifacts, be they lesson plans, student work samples, or a parent newsletter, must be accompanied with written explanations. For example: What is the purpose of the parent newsletter? What did you and your students learn from the school survey you had them conduct? Be specific and reflective. It's the intent and thoughtful planning and reflective evaluations that the artifacts should reveal.
It's also a good idea to write brief, identifying captions for each artifact:
- Title of the artifact
- Date produced
- Description of the context
- Purpose, evaluation, or other types of comments
A professional teaching portfolio can be created and presented in many ways. No matter which approach you take, these tips offer extra guidance. Good luck!
- Explain your educational philosophy and teaching goals.
- Choose specific features of your instructional program to document.
- Collect a wide range of artifacts, and date and annotate them so you have the information you need when making your final selections.
- Keep a journal to draw upon for written reflections on your teaching.
- Collaborate with a mentor and other colleagues (preferably those experienced in both teaching and portfolio construction).
- Assemble the portfolio in an easily accessible form and have someone whose opinion you trust assess it.
This article was adapted from Learning to Teach...Not Just for Beginners: The Essential Guide for All Teachers by Linda Shalaway, © 2005, published by Scholastic
This book is available in the Scholastic Teacher Store.
Linda Shalaway is the author of the book, Learning to Teach . . . Not Just for Beginners.