Guide to Creating a Teacher Portfolio: Beginning the Process

Updated on April 24, 2018
Jule Romans profile image

Jule Romans is a former college instructor with an M.A. in Education. She guided many new teachers in her 25-year career in the classroom.

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The Process of Creating a Teacher Portfolio

Creating a teaching portfolio can seem like a daunting task. It doesn't have to be so painful.

If you acknowledge the challenge, you are likely to find the process of creating a teaching portfolio very rewarding.

Start by understanding the complex tasks that are required. Then, schedule in plenty of time to collect materials and assemble all the pieces. Leave plenty of room for multiple sessions so that you can complete each task with time to spare.

How to Prepare Your Teaching Portfolio

These articles are here to help you walk through the process of compiling and submitting your portfolio. You can rely on the information here to help you prepare the best possible examples of your work.

You can use the articles to guide your work sessions, or simply as a reference guide when you have questions.

This guide has several related articles, which will answer some of your questions.

If you are a little nervous about your portfolio, that’s a good thing!

It's probably a sign that you have the right attitude.

You ARE ready for this challenge.

You CAN do this.

Creating a Good Portfolio Can Be a Challenge

Let’s start right out with the bare truth: This is not going to be easy. It isn’t really supposed to be.

Creating a Portfolio is a Complex Process

Think about this for a moment. The process of developing a portfolio will make you think carefully and critically about every aspect of your professional identity.

  • You’ll need to consider everything from broad and general state standards to specific and detailed student interactions.
  • You’ll need to reconsider your position on important current issues in education.
  • You’ll need to review the research you have done and demonstrate your ability to continue seeking knowledge.
  • You’ll need to revive your resume and letters of recommendation.
  • You’ll need to renew your vision of yourself and find a way to present every aspect of that to potential employers.

How could that possibly be easy? If you are a little nervous, that’s probably a sign that you have the right attitude.

A Good Teaching Portfolio Can Make a Great Start for Your Career

Even so, there is no need to be intimidated. As a future teacher, this is your first opportunity to prepare and present an intellectual project that is entirely your own. In some ways, that can be exciting. You are no longer limited by what a lead teacher wants. You no longer need to meet an exact page requirement for a professor. You now have the freedom to express yourself with complete ownership. Your portfolio can be your first step toward the kind of work that will be required of you regularly as a classroom teacher. It is, in some ways, the perfect way to start your career.

There is no need to be intimidated.

You now have the freedom to express yourself with complete ownership.

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Your portfolio can be the perfect way to start your career.

Understand the Portfolio Process

The first thing you should do is read through all the articles in this series, taking time to to call attention to important information. You should also record any questions you have. Take your time doing this.

Don't Rush, and Don't Worry

Each question has its own separate article, so that the process can be divided into manageable chunks. Don’t rush, and don’t worry. You can do this, one step at at time.

If you are a slow reader, don’t try to read the entire guide all at once. Read one section at a time. Take a break between sections and do something else. Then, set the guide aside for a few days.

Keep an Open List of Ideas and Questions

It can be helpful to make an ongoing list and keep in handy with the rest of your academic materials. That way, if an idea or question comes to you, you can jot it down.

Allow yourself plenty of time to think about your portfolio. It’s also very helpful to discuss your thoughts and questions with others. Classmates and instructors are excellent resources.

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Allow yourself plenty of time to think about your portfolio.

It’s also very helpful to discuss your thoughts and questions with others.

Teaching Portfolio Tasks and Skills

Write
Organize
Communicate
Teaching Philosophy
Lesson/ Unit Plans
Request References
Statement of Purpose
Classroom Experiences
Order Transcripts
Articles for publications
Student Photos
Request Permissions
Reflection Statemens
Student Work Samples
Seek Feedback
Research Summaries
Resume or CV
Contact Mentors

Schedule Time to Work on Your Teaching Portfolio

After a week or so, visit the guide again, and get ready to start your work sessions. Plan on at least 45 minutes of uninterrupted time for each work session. The number of work sessions you plan per week may vary but try to do at least one a week.

Some weeks may be very busy (midterms, finals, and the first weeks of a new class). During those weeks, you might not work on your portfolio at all. Some weeks might be very slow, with fewer outside responsibilities. During those weeks, you might work on your portfolio more often.

If it balances out to approximately once per week, you should be able to make good progress without too much frustration.

What to Do During Portfolio Work Session

Work sessions might involve:

  • Contacting people for references
  • Gathering work samples and materials
  • Reading and researching important ideas
  • Drafting explanations, teaching philosophy, or other materials
  • Organizing
  • Proofreading
  • Determining weaknesses and strengths in your portfolio
  • Making decisions about what to include
  • Polishing the portfolio and creating a professional appearance for all items
  • Reviewing your accomplishments
  • Rereading course materials
  • Studying the Michigan Entry level standards for new teachers
  • Re-typing and editing old lesson plans
  • Organizing photos and graphics

There are many other things you might do during a work session, but this list should be enough to help you get started. There will be setbacks and challenges. Expect them.

Persistence and Patience

It will take time to follow up on reference letters. It will take some effort to locate and compile examples of your teaching. It will take concentration and thought to sort out the checklists and rubrics so that you can understand what is required. It will not always be easy to make decisions about what to include and what to omit.

Your teaching portfolio will demonstrate your ability to balance several complex requirements and produce results.

These are the same skills you will need throughout your career.

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The overall effect of the portfolio might in some ways be a small indication of your potential as a teacher.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio is a Challenge

Beginning the process of compiling a portfolio can seem intimidating. The mass of information and variety in items to be included looks daunting when you first approach the task. The task itself takes a very long time. It’s not the sort of thing that can be complied in a single session, or even in several days. It takes time, thought, research, revision, and careful long-term planning.

Creating a Portfolio is Similar to Teaching

When you get right down to it, compiling the portfolio is very similar to teaching. The process cannot be simple and straightforward. It requires a good deal of thought and energy. The portfolio will demonstrate your ability to balance several complex requirements and produce results. The way you approach the challenges will be reflected in the overall effect of your portfolio. The overall effect of the portfolio might in some ways be a small indication of your potential as a teacher.

A Young Teacher's Portfolio

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Jule Romans

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