What Is a Teaching Portfolio?

Updated on February 22, 2020
Jule Romans profile image

Jule Romans is a former college instructor with an M.A. in Education. She has taught classes in teacher education and mentored new teachers.

A good teaching portfolio is a collection of items that are carefully selected to demonstrate mastery of educational skills.

What is a Teaching Portfolio?

The teaching portfolio is an ever-evolving showcase that can open doors to a great teaching career.The teaching portfolio provides an opportunity to demonstrate a wide range of teaching and leadership skills.

What is Included in a Teaching Portfolio?

Because teaching requires such a complex array of skills, a resume alone is often not enough. No matter how descriptive they are, words on a page cannot fully illustrate what a teacher can do.

A good teaching portfolio often contains pictures, lesson plans, letters of reference, research writing, and publications. There are so many different types of things that can be used as examples of a teacher's excellence.

What is an Artifact in a Teacher Portfolio?

The term artifact is often misunderstood. “artifact” is used to describe any item you place in your portfolio to demonstrate a specific point. An artifact might be a sample of student work, a certificate of achievement, or a thank you note. The point is that the item is deliberately selected to illustrate a specific part of your teaching persona.

The teacher portfolio may include a huge variety of items that show off the best accomplishments of an individual teacher. It is difficult to gather them all under one single category, because they are all so very different.

Many features of good teaching go far beyond pencil and paper examples. That is why the items and examples that are included in a teacher portfolio are often called artifacts. Artifacts can be many different things, so the word makes even more sense int his context.

A teaching portfolio is not merely a collection of course projects, nor is it a scrapbook of teaching memorabilia.

The Purpose of a Teaching Portfolio

The best portfolios clearly represent the teacher’s knowledge, skills, and beliefs, and show how the teacher implements those in practice.

We must begin with a clear understanding of the definition and purpose of a portfolio. "Portfolio” is a word with many applications. A teaching portfolio is “an organized, goal-driven documentation of professional growth and achieved competence in the complex act called teaching" (1)

The key point here is that your portfolio must somehow be MORE than just a collection- it must have some intellectual basis. A teacher portfolio is not merely a collection of course projects, nor is it a scrapbook of teaching memorabilia.

The best portfolios clearly represent the teacher’s knowledge, skills, and beliefs, and show how the teacher implements those in practice.

A Teacher Portfolio is an Opportunity to Demonstrate Your Skills

Most recognized education colleges demand the production of a portfolio as the final experience for their graduates. “Every student who is preparing to teach should begin developing a professional portfolio. If you have not yet begun, now is the time to do so. A teaching portfolio is an organized collection of artifacts that document your developing professional skills. (1)"

Teacher Portfolios Demonstrate Teaching Skills

Since there might be any number of items that could prove or demonstrate your accomplishment, the word artifact has gained popularity. Don’t let the word confuse you. Simply remember to make purposeful selection of all kinds of items, and you will do just fine.

A Teaching Portfolio is the Perfect Showcase Opportunity

One university puts it like this: “Although you will discover areas for improvement as you compile your portfolio, you will emphasize mainly the positive aspects of your work. “A "teaching portfolio" is a compilation of information about your teaching. It can therefore be selective, emphasizing the positive--to serve as a showcase for your achievements in teaching, not necessarily a comprehensive or balanced picture of everything. (2)”

ATeacher Portfolio is Always Evolving

That makes sense. You will go through a certain process, independently, that will result in a final product which represents your best work. Getting to that point, however, will involve creating and re-creating the portfolio many times. In fact, you might think of the process as divided into two parts. You should have two portfolios: a working portfolio and a presentation portfolio.

Your portfolio must somehow be MORE than just a collection- it must have some intellectual basis.

Examples of Items in a Teaching Portfolio

Teaching Philosopy
Lesson Plans
Classroom Photos
Photos of Bulletin Boards
Candid Photos
Cover Letter
Unit Outlines
Parent Contacts
Published Articles
Professional Associations
Research Reports
Case Studies
Public Speaking
Personal Reflections
Class Performances
Classroom Newsletters
Read-Aloud Events

Through your working portfolio, you will be able to assess yourself; your strengths and areas for improvement.

The working portfolio utilizes many different resources.
The working portfolio utilizes many different resources. | Source

What is a Teacher Portfolio?

The Working Portfolio

Ever since you took your first education class, you most likely began to save your work. Your writing and other assignments are evidence of your developing teacher-self. In a way, the working teacher portfolio is your ever-changing draft portfolio.This is what you have been collecting all along. The "working" teacher portfolio is the master collection of artifacts.

The Teaching Portfolio in Progress

A working portfolio is much larger than the presentation or assessment portfolio. It contains unabridged versions of documents you choose to portray your professional growth.

It could contain all your journal entries, all your lessons plan, every reading you have done, etc. The working portfolio will also help you to document your attainment of teaching standards and practices.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio is a Process of Self-Assessment

Through your developing portfolio, you will be able to assess yourself; your strengths and areas for improvement. Often working portfolios are contained in crates to facilitate transporting such a large volume of materials! (1)”

Example of a Teaching Portfolio

What is a Professional Teacher Portfolio?

The Final Version of a Teacher Portfolio

The working portfolio is not the end of the process, though. “From time to time, you will select items from the working portfolio to organize into a presentation portfolio. Your teaching portfolio will grow over your professional life. You will add to it and, from time to time, will weed out obsolete items. Later, near the end of the semester and for any presentation, you will cull, reorganize, and consolidate to create your presentation portfolio.

You will use the presentation portfolio to introduce yourself to potential cooperating teachers when it comes time for student teaching, and you'll use it when you begin applying for teaching positions.

The Presentation Portfolio is for Job-Seeking

As you finish student teaching and begin looking for the job you want, you will revise, edit, and polish a portfolio to show as your interview. A presentation portfolio gives others an effective and easy-to-read portrait of your professional development. It is selective and represents your best at the time.

A high-quality portfolio may give you the edge over other candidates.

A Presentation Portfolio is also a Professional Teaching Portfolio

After you begin teaching and begin to grow professionally, you may wish to begin the process of becoming a National Board-Certified teacher. As part of that process, you will have to develop a professional portfolio documenting your competency.

The portfolio you begin now can serve as the foundation for that. While the format is different, the process is similar, and some of the artifacts you begin collecting now might be used as part of that portfolio.” (1)

The best portfolios clearly represent the teacher’s knowledge, skills, and beliefs, and show how the teacher implements those in practice.

Begin assembling your professional portfolio, but be prepared for it to change.
Begin assembling your professional portfolio, but be prepared for it to change. | Source

A Good Teacher Portfolio Opens Doors

Thus, the process of creating a portfolio is likely to continue into your career. A portfolio is a deliberate presentation of yourself as a teacher.

Its purpose is to show your work in the best possible manner. Understanding this is the key to compiling a good portfolio- one which will not only get you noticed, but also get you accepted as a member of a school community.


  1. Professional Portfolios. 2003. Department of Middle and Secondary Education, Florida State University. 30 Mar 2005.
  2. The Teaching Portfolio at Washington State University. 1996. Office of the Provost, Washington State University. 27 Mar 2005.
  3. Preparing a Teaching Portfolio: A Guidebook. 17 Mar 2005. The center for teaching effectiveness, University of Texas at Austin. 31 Mar 2005.
  4. Capstone Requirements. 11 Jun 2003. Curriculum & Instruction,
    UMass Boston. 31 Mar 2005.
  5. EDU 307 AB Student Teaching Portfolio requirements/checklist. 1 Apr, 2005. University of California, Irvine. 1 Apr 2005.

© 2018 Jule Romans


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