Creating a Teacher Portfolio
What is a teacher portfolio?
A teacher portfolio is a collection of work produced by a teacher. Much like an artist portfolio, a teacher portfolio uses a collection of materials to highlight and illustrate one's knowledge, skills, and values. These materials may vary from teacher-made lesson plans to formal observation reports from administrators. When put together, these artifacts represent a diverse and unique description of the teacher.
Why have a teacher portfolio?
Teacher portfolios can be useful in many circumstances . These may include:
- To supplement a formal employment interview.
- To assess a teacher's qualifications for promotion.
- As an assessment and learning tool in pre-service teacher education programs.
- As a means of professional self-reflection.
In each of these situations, as well as in others, a portfolio can be invaluable. Specifically, I would like to point out the importance of the last point: a means of professional reflection. Creating a teacher portfolio is a wonderful method of analyzing one's professional accomplishments and skills. As a collection of memories and artifacts, the portfolio acts as a real representation of the teacher's contribution to the field.
How do I make a teacher portfolio?
First, it is important to identify the portfolio's purpose and audience. If it is to serve as a professional assessment for employment or promotion, make sure to check for any requirements as far as format and structure. If it is being used for personal reflection, you will have more leeway. Typically, a teacher portfolio will contain some or all of the following:
- A brief cover letter or mission statement stating the purpose of the portfolio
- A current/updated resume
- A brief biography of the teacher (highlighting educational, personal, and professional background)
- Information about professional activities and affiliations beyond the school
- Scores from any required testing (e.g. Praxis)
- Copies of any pertinent documents (i.e. teaching license(s), additional certifications, etc.)
- A personal statement that emphasizes one's teaching philosophy
- Documentation of continuing education (i.e. graduate study, workshops, etc.)
- Any letters of commendation or documentation of awards received
- Sample copies of communication with parents (i.e. class newsletters, congratulatory letters, etc.)
- Teacher-made classroom documents (i.e. lesson plans, handouts, tests, rubrics, etc.)
- Examples of student work that represent your teaching philosophy
- Photographs from your classroom (i.e. lessons or learning centers, bulletin boards, student projects, etc.)
- Records of formal observations
- A brief video of a lesson
Among the most important elements in the portfolio is the statement containing your teaching philosophy. This is a very personal declaration of one's values and beliefs. It will require a significant investment in time and mental energy, but it is absolutely worth it. The statement will be invaluable to your professional development.
I recommend keeping your portfolio in a three-ring binder; electronic portfolios are also an excellent option for those with the proper technical skill. It will keep everything organized and neat. You can also use binder tabs to separate the portfolio into different sections (i.e. introduction, background information, teaching artifacts, observations, etc.). The manner in which you decorate the binder is a matter of personal taste. However, using colorful paper and tabs can be an easy way to bring energy and life into the portfolio.
Remember, as you are constructing the portfolio, constantly ask yourself: "What is this saying about me?" This portfolio is a representation of yourself as a professional educator. By reflecting on your profession and talents, you will notice a growing appreciation for the field of education and your contributions to it.