*As featured in a past edition of one of our magazines*
A Teaching Portfolio:
Helping you stay up-to-date on trends in teaching
During the last few years, you've probably been helping your students collect and evaluate their work to create portfolios that demonstrate their learning. As you've seen how valuable these collections are to students, you might have realized that portfolios could be beneficial to teachers too. And you'd be right.
Professional portfolios have been gaining popularity. Many new teachers are required to prepare them as part of their popularity. Many new teachers are required to prepare them as part of their undergraduate education; many experienced teachers have chosen to prepare them as a way of evaluating their teaching practice, summarizing their strengths, and recording their teaching careers.
What is a professional portfolio?
The word portfolio has Latin roots: port, which means "to carry," and folio, which means "papers or pages." So a portfolio is a collection of papers that you can show to others to demonstrate your teaching strengths and beliefs.
Artists, designers, journalists, and photographers have always collected their work to show others. A professional portfolio gives teachers a way to show what they've done too.
Why have professional portfolios become popular?
There are plenty of reasons.
- Preparing a portfolio gives you a chance to model for your students how to select items, write reflections, and so forth. You can work on your portfolio while your students work on theirs.
- The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards includes preparing a portfolio as part of its certification requirements.
- Some districts use portfolios as part of teacher evaluation.
Portfolios sound like they're for new graduates or for teachers changing jobs. Why should I create a portfolio?
Preparing a portfolio is an excellent way to
- reflect on your teaching, including what has worked and why
- show evidence of your educational beliefs and experiences
- celebrate your development as a teacher
- introduce yourself to parents and students
- underscore your image as a professional
Plus, having a record of your achievements makes applying for grants and filling out end-of-the-year reports on goals and student achievement much easier!
Tips for assembling your portfolio
- Decide what your portfolio's purpose is.
Is it a way of assessing your teaching skills and deciding what you'd like to work on? Are you preparing for a potential move to a new school or position? Would you like to use it to introduce yourself to parents? Your portfolio's purpose has a direct impact on how you'll put it together.
- Pick a good storage spot.
Designate a file, bin, or box where you can stash items you might like to include in your portfolio. Save, save, save&emdash;you'll have a chance to sort through the material later to make the hard choices about exactly what to include.
- Decide what format you want to use.
A three-ring binder with plastic sleeves is probably the most convenient portfolio format. However, as school systems become more technologically savvy, electronic portfolios are becoming popular. Be sure to choose a format that can grow as your teaching grows.
- Decide how you'd like to organize your material.
Chronologically? By theme, unit, or curriculum area? In order of what you're most proud of? By particular goals, such as personal goals or district or curriculum-area standards?
- Include reflections.
Write captions or brief descriptions of the items you include, explaining what you learned with certain activities, what students learned, why something worked well, how the activity fits with your educational philosophy, and so forth. Without these insights you'll have a wonderful teaching scrapbook but not a true portfolio.
- Showcase your strengths.
Include samples of your original ideas that demonstrate your creativity, show your ability to reach children on all levels, or give others an idea of your commitment to education.
- Keep your reader interested.
Use active language and avoid jargon and acronyms. Make your portfolio fun to look at by adding stickers and using brightly colored paper.
- Periodically clean it out.
Items you chose to include originally may not seem as important anymore. When you have your students sort through their portfolios to choose their very best work, do the same with yours. Keep in mind your portfolio's purpose when making your choices.
- Pick a portfolio pal.
Need some motivation for getting your portfolio started? Pair up with a friend and work on your portfolios together. You're sure to have more fun that way!
What goes in my portfolio?
The sky's the limit! You can include the following:
- table of contents
- introduction to your portfolio
- explanation of your educational philosophy or goals
- approach to classroom management
- lesson plans
- photos or sketches of your classroom arrangement, bulletin boards, art projects, and centers
- photos of students both in everyday activities and on special occasions, such as field trips or class parties
- photo of yourself
- notes from parents, colleagues, and administrators
- formal evaluations
- samples of student work
- class newsletters
- pie charts or graphs that show student progress
- excerpts from your teaching journal or anecdotal records
- video or DVD
- list of computer programs you use
- college transcripts and scores from tests such as NTE
- list of workshops attended or grants received
- newspaper articles in which you're quoted or your students are featured
- memberships in community and professional organizations
Depending on the purpose of your portfolio, you might also want to include some items that give a sense of who you are as a person, such as
- lists of books you use in your teaching and books you've enjoyed personally
- samples of writing you've done for classroom use and for use outside the classroom
- lists of your interests and hobbies, accompanied by samples and photos
©1998 The Education Center, Inc. ⋅ The Mailbox® Teacher