Teacher Portfolios: Displaying the Art of Teaching: The More Poetic among Us May Describe a Teacher Portfolio as a Representation of a Teacher's Individual Experience, Accomplishments and Philosophy, as Well as a Vehicle for Personal Reflection, While the More Practical Might Call It Simply a Detailed, Three-Dimensional Resume

By Reese, Susan | Techniques, May 2004 | Go to article overview

Teacher Portfolios: Displaying the Art of Teaching: The More Poetic among Us May Describe a Teacher Portfolio as a Representation of a Teacher's Individual Experience, Accomplishments and Philosophy, as Well as a Vehicle for Personal Reflection, While the More Practical Might Call It Simply a Detailed, Three-Dimensional Resume


Reese, Susan, Techniques


A portfolio can convey a teacher's beliefs, knowledge and skills. An artist uses a portfolio to display artistic talent, and a teacher can use his or her portfolio to display teaching talent and teaching style.

A teacher's portfolio may be used to obtain new employment, to document teaching accomplishments in order to receive a promotion or tenure at the postsecondary level, or for reflection and self-improvement. Many teacher preparation programs require the creation of a professional portfolio, and the portfolio can serve as a framework for collaborative assessment and evaluation between an intern teacher and the faculty and administration of the school where a student teacher might be serving as an intern.

A portfolio is also required for achieving certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and maintaining a current portfolio can be beneficial when applying for grants, because much of the information gathered for the portfolio may closely approximate that needed for many grant applications.

Chris Zirkle is an assistant professor in the Department of Workforce Development and Education within the College of Education at The Ohio State University in Columbus who describes himself as "imminently practical" and describes a teaching portfolio as "a very practical document for a prospective teacher."

Zirkle had five students who completed a field experience at a high school this past quarter. He required the students to submit teaching materials, journals and interviews to him, and further encouraged them to keep such materials to use in their portfolios.

When these newly minted teachers go out to look for their first permanent, full-time positions, they will be equipped with a valuable selling tool in the form of a portfolio--and what they are selling is their own abilities. It's one thing to present a resume and a degree, but that may not tell the complete story of what a teacher can do in the classroom.

"A portfolio can show that you know lesson planning, can put together a test and can assess student performance," Zirkle says, "because you have artifacts to back it all up."

But it's more than just a marketing piece to help his students land a job.

"It helps them understand the different responsibilities and roles of a teacher," notes Zirkle. "It can help them to become a complete educator."

The Components

What should go into a teaching portfolio? Ohio State University's Office of Faculty and Teaching Associates Development (OFTAD) offers the following suggestions.

* A description of teaching responsibilities and course development or teaching improvement efforts

* Course syllabi and materials

* Self-evaluation of teaching statement and philosophy of teaching statement

* Student evaluation of teaching summaries, student work samples and student performance data

* Copies of papers or presentations on teaching topics and records of awards and honors

* Videotape of classroom teaching sample

* Reports of others who have observed class

* Comments of others who have reviewed course materials and those who know about contributions to a department or field

* Student performance data for courses and records of student accomplishments or progress after the course

The Ohio State OFTAD also suggests using multiple sources of evidence and presenting detailed data when gathering documentation to be presented to others. You should also tailor your presentation to the specific requirement. For reflection and self-improvement, OFTAD suggests selecting items that help you to reflect on your goals, assess your strengths and areas for development, experiment with new ways of getting feedback and promote dialogue with colleagues.

ProfessionalTeacher.com advises that when assembling a portfolio, it is best to select a method of organization and be consistent with it.

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Teacher Portfolios: Displaying the Art of Teaching: The More Poetic among Us May Describe a Teacher Portfolio as a Representation of a Teacher's Individual Experience, Accomplishments and Philosophy, as Well as a Vehicle for Personal Reflection, While the More Practical Might Call It Simply a Detailed, Three-Dimensional Resume
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