Sunday, May 18, 2008

Developing a Teaching Portfolio

The purposeful and careful documentation of what teachers are doing in school encourages teachers to conduct ongoing self-evaluation and reflection, and provides them with information to guide future self-improvement and professional development. Portfolios also help teachers conduct meaningful peer evaluation, and can help a school’s principal function as an education partner with teachers, not just as a judge or critic of their practice.

Portfolios also capture the complexities of teaching, providing a flexible and versatile set of assessments for evaluators. And while they can’t replace traditional methods of evaluation such as teacher tests, student grade profiles, and standardized test data, portfolios also can help educators monitor student achievement. via National Staff Development Council
What are some key functions of a teaching portfolio?
- It is a way to collect evidence of your teaching ability.
- It provides the reader with a context for your teaching.
- It provides summary data on your teaching in a simple, readable format.
- It is focused on quality, not quantity.
- It is organized and its various sections relate to each other.
- It is an ever-changing, living document.
- It allows for self-reflection.
- It provides an opportunity to be unique and showcase your personal style of teaching.
- The process of creating one is generally much more important and meaningful than the end product.

Why create a portfolio?
The teaching portfolio can serve many purposes, some of which include the following:
- reflecting on your goals as a teacher,
- assessing your teaching strengths and areas which need improvement,
- documenting your progress as a teacher,
- generating ideas for future teaching/course development,
- identifying your personal teaching style,
- using elements of the portfolio to promote dialogue with fellow teachers,
- considering new ways of gathering student feedback,
- gathering detailed data to support your goals,
- collecting multiple sources of evidence that document the implementation of your teaching goals and their success.
One would use a portfolio during the academic job search, promotion and tenure process, and for personal and professional development.

A table of contents is an important tool in organizing the various sections of your portfolio. For examples of these, go to Examples of Table of Contents.
Some of the sections above, such as the statement on teaching philosophy, are strictly narrative (reflective). Other sections consist of a set of materials as well as a narrative or rationale that explains what they are. The narrative component should answer the following questions:
- Why did you include it in the portfolio?
- How did you use it in the classroom?
- How do you know that it was effective, i.e. that your students learned as a result?
- How has your teaching changed as a result?
- What have you learned about yourself as a teacher?
The portfolio is not, however, simply a binder with all of the teaching documents inserted with random pages of reflection. “It includes documents and materials which collectively suggest the scope and quality of a professor’s teaching performance….The portfolio is not an exhaustive compilation of all of the documents and materials that bear on teaching performance. Instead, it presents selected information on teaching activities and solid evidence of their effectiveness.” (Seldin, 1997, p. 2)

How should you get started creating it?
The following is a list of some general strategies on developing a teaching portfolio:
- Start as early as possible.
- Plan well and systematically collect data.
- Develop a good filing system.
- Regularly sort through, organize, and update information.
- Involve others as consultants and contributors.

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