How to Create a Teaching Portfolio

Updated on April 2, 2018
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Jule Romans is an experienced teacher educator. She has mentored many new teachers over the course of her 25-year career in education.

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How to Create a Teaching Portfolio

You will go through several steps as you compile your portfolio. This article will help you with each step individually.

First, though, let’s get a general idea of what you will be doing. You’ll go through the following five steps to create your portfolio:

1. Gather potential items (artifacts) for the portfolio.
2. Select artifacts that showcase your teaching.
3. Polish and prepare the artifacts.
4. Arrange and organize portfolio contents.
5. Edit to create a professional appearance.

Each Step Has Many Parts

Each step has many parts. Most steps will require a good deal of thought and reflection. Some steps may take as long as several weeks to complete. Be patient. Time is on your side in this project.

The more time you allow yourself to think, plan collect and revise, the better your portfolio will ultimately appear. If you find yourself stuck on a particular aspect of your work, you can always move to another task, or stop altogether for a while.

You might be surprised at the ideas that come to you as you are “not working” on the portfolio.

Each Step Takes Time

This will be a long process. Begin early. It is probably best to think of this task as taking several months to complete, by doing a little work on it each week. The best portfolios are usually begun in the fall of the school year, and finished in early to mid spring. This allows many months for preparation and reflection. The process can be much less stressful this way.

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Create a Teaching Portfolio

1. Gather potential items (artifacts) for the portfolio.

2. Select artifacts that showcase your teaching.

3. Polish and prepare the artifacts.

4. Arrange and organize portfolio contents.

5. Edit to create a professional appearance.

Collect items for your teaching portfolio. You can polish them up later.
Collect items for your teaching portfolio. You can polish them up later. | Source

Items may include pictures, letters, work samples, lesson plans, resumes, and many other things. Since so many different kinds of examples can be included, portfolio items are usually called artifacts.

1. Gather Potential Items (Artifacts) for the Portfolio

Start collecting items for inclusion in your portfolio as soon as possible. Don't worry about where or how to organize them. Just start collecting things that make you feel good about your teaching.

Get a box of some kind, or designate a file drawer for this purpose. Fill it with anything and everything you can think of that might possibly be used in your portfolio. You can always take things out later.

Collect Examples of Your Teaching

Items may include pictures, letters, work samples, lesson plans, resumes, and many other things. Since so many different kinds of examples can be included, portfolio items are usually called artifacts.

An artifact can be anything that is appropriate for your portfolio, from an electronic piece of work to an audio tape. An item is the same thing as an artifact. We will use the terms interchangeably in this guide.

Keep an Open Mind

As you are gathering these artifacts, try to keep an open mind. Think of it as a kind of brainstorm- don’t judge your ideas, just let them flow. If you think it MIGHT be useful, put it in.

You do not need to worry about organizing or making things look good at this stage. Many people refer to this as a “working portfolio” Whether it is in a box, a file drawer, or even a pile on the desk; it can be considered a working portfolio.

Take Your Time

The process of gathering items may last several months. You may even be organizing or polishing one section of your portfolio will gathering items for another. The “working portfolio” will probably always have something in it, because it is your spot to put things while you are thinking about what to do with them.

Examples of Artifacts for the Teaching Portfolio

Classroom
Personal
Professional
Student Work Samples
Teaching Philosophy
Lesson Plans
Classroom Photos
Curriculum Vitae
Unit Outlines
Bulletin Boards (photos)
Position Papers
Published Articles
Quizzes & Tests
Parent/Admin Comments
Research Papers
Class Projects
Reference Letters
Websites
Class Performances
Reflection Journals
Technology Use
Daily Organizers
Resume
Worksheets
Grouping Strategies
Student Letters
Student Guidance
Student work can be photographed for inclusion in the teaching portfolio.
Student work can be photographed for inclusion in the teaching portfolio. | Source

2. Select Artifacts that Showcase Your Teaching

When you have a substantial number of artifacts in your working portfolio, it will be time to make some choices. Sort through the things in your working portfolio. Select the items that seem most useful or necessary to include. Separate them form the items in your working portfolio.

Make a New File or Notebook

This can be the time to begin a smaller box, or simply a new division of your file drawer. Some people like to begin a three-ring binder at this point. That is usually the easiest way. As your portfolio takes shape, the right format will become clear, but a three-ring binder is always handy.

Be Patient With the Process

The process of choosing artifacts will continue for a long time. You might decide to complete an entire section of your portfolio before you have even chosen artifacts for another section. You may have several sections that have a few items selected, but have not yet been organized. You may even have a nearly-complete, highly polished portfolio with one completely empty section.

This will depend entirely upon your own individual experience and circumstances. The key is HOW you make the choice about what to include.

Narrow Down your Teaching Examples

Most of the decision-making will require you to review, review, review and review again. As you examine an artifact for selection, consider it carefully.

  • Which teaching skill or standard does it demonstrate?
  • How does it demonstrate your teaching skill?
  • Does the artifact support what an employer might like to see?
  • Does the artifact fit within the professional guidelines?

These questions are critical.

What NOT to Include in a Teaching Portfolio

If you are including an item only because you don’t know what else to do with it, it probably doesn’t belong in your portfolio. It’s important for your portfolio to have a personal touch, but the personal touch is not the purpose of the teaching portfolio.

Make Serious Choices

If you are including an item only because you think it is cute or funny, it doesn’t belong in your portfolio. This applies to all forms of decoration, including stickers, graphics, etc. The portfolio may seem like a scrapbook, but it is a great deal more than that.

It’s important for your portfolio to have a personal touch, but the personal touch is not the purpose of the teaching portfolio.

3. Prepare the Examples to Include in the Portfolio

Once you have made an adequate number of selections, you may begin preparing the items to be included in your portfolio. This may mean typing or retyping lesson plans, papers, or your educational philosophy. It may involve cleaning up photos and graphics.

Explain As Needed

In most cases, it will also mean writing or creating some form of explanation of the artifact. Artifacts included in your portfolio should make sense to a reader who does not know you. They must be complete in themselves.

Resumes should be in standard format. Letters of recommendation should be clean and crisp. Photos should have adequate explanation of context. A reader must be able to look at a given page or section of your portfolio and understand it without requiring verbal explanation from you.

The Portfolio Speaks for Itself

Although it is NOT recommended that you leave your portfolio with a future employer, you should imagine that he or she will be reading it without you being present.

The portfolio should speak for itself and express ideas on its own. It should be impressive in its own right, without requiring any excuse, explanation, apology or clarification.

Present a Clean and Professional Appearance

So, you will spend some time with each of your items, keeping all that in mind. Adjust, edit, alter, revise, and continue this process until the artifacts are as close as they can be to this goal. Later, you will check them again. However, you should make them as perfect as you possibly can right now.

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4. Arrange and Organize Portfolio Contents

Prepared artifacts can be grouped, organized and sorted. At this point, your portfolio should begin taking shape. It may be doing so in sections. That is, you may have one section completely organized- with items in order, prepared correctly, and sorted appropriately. Or, you may have an overall organization with some section that are still incomplete.

Either way, it will become clear to you that things need to be organized. Arranging and organizing items is relatively easy, if you have completed the earlier steps carefully. You will already have given lots of thought to your choices.

Step Back and Examine Your Work

You simply need to step back from your work and take a good look. Imagine that you are a professor, teacher, or employer. How would you like to see this portfolio organized? What makes sense to put first? What needs to come next? What should be nearer the end?

You’ll still be making lots of choices here. You might decide upon a direct, step-by-step approach, or you might work in themes . The arrangement and organization may change several times throughout the course of your work.

All artifacts should be organized, clear, clean, and ready for final inspection. All sections should be tabbed or labeled. The overall effect should be that of a finished portfolio. This is the time to make final decisions about electronic aspects of your portfolio.

Organize the Contents of Your Portfolio

This is also the time to be sure you have created proper sections, and that each section has adequate explanation and reflection included. In this stage, your items should be in your portfolio in the exact order you plan for the final version.

By the end of this stage, all sections should be complete, organized, and almost ready to go. This stage may take several work sessions to complete, because you may find yourself returning to your working portfolio to select and prepare new items.

You may also find yourself deleting or changing artifacts. Take your time with this, and don’t be surprised if you return to earlier stages during the organizing process.

Let the Portfolio "Rest"

Put the portfolio aside for at least three full days after it has been arranged and organized.

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5. Edit to Create a Professional Appearance

Several days after the portfolio is arranged and organized, pick it up and examine it. Consider the overall impression you wish to make. Does the portfolio reflect that? What needs to be altered to meet your goals?

Make alterations. Take your time and enjoy this stage- leave yourself plenty of time to put the finishing touches on all materials.

Check All Artifacts

Check every artifact again for clarity, professional appearance, and quality of presentation. Make sure every item is clean and free of extraneous comments. Look for errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, mechanics, and usage. Check photos for quality.

Check the Physical Appearance of Your Teaching Portfolio

Select your most appropriate binding and section markers. Create and clean up labeling. There are a few physical presentation considerations. The binder itself must be of high quality, and not dual-purpose. Section tabs should extend beyond the edges of the portfolio’s pages. Typing is required.

Proofread

Proofread each item. Proofread again.

Have a knowledgeable person review your work and make suggestions. Share your portfolio with your favorite instructor and get feedback.

Celebrate the Accomplishment of Your Teaching Portfolio

Celebrate your accomplishment. You have now completed many months of challenging work. Take pride in your teaching portfolio. Now you can get any teaching job you desire!

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    © 2018 Jule Romans

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