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How to Create a Teaching Portfolio: Advice and Help for Getting Started

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How to Start 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.

Why Make a Teacher Portfolio?

The purpose of a teaching portfolio is to showcase your potential as a future educator. The portfolio is an opportunity to demonstrate your very best work.

How to Create a Reflective Teaching Portfolio

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

It's Okay to Be Nervous About Your Teaching Portfolio

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.

Allow Plenty of Time to Reflect and Prepare

Allow yourself plenty of time to think about your teacher portfolio. The process can be divided into manageable chunks. Take your time doing this. Don’t rush, and don’t worry. You can do this, one step at at time.

It can be helpful to make an ongoing list of tasks and ides for your teaching portfolio. You should also record any questions you have. Keep the list handy with the rest of your academic materials. That way, if an idea or question comes to you, you can jot it down.

It’s also very helpful to discuss your thoughts and questions with others. Classmates and instructors are excellent resources.

How to Create Your Teacher Portfolio

Plan Your Work on the Teaching Portfolio

Start your work sessions early on. 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 teaching portfolio at all. Some weeks might be very slow, with fewer outside responsibilities. During those weeks, you might work on your teaching portfolio more often.

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

Set Aside Time for Teacher Portfolio Work Sessions

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

Make Your Teaching Portfolio a Priority

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.

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.


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

A Young Teacher's Portfolio

Why Is a Teaching Portfolio Important?

Your Portfolio Demonstrates Your Potential as a Teacher

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.

Your teaching 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 your teacher portfolio might in some ways be a small indication of your potential as an educator.

Creating a Good Teacher Portfolio Takes Time

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.

Creating a good teacher portfolio 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.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Jule Romans