Teaching Portfolio Development
You can think of a professional teaching portfolio as an expanded resume in either print or digital form. Our directory of teaching portfolio links is aimed at both K-12, and higher education audiences.
You can jump down to our links, and skip the blather if you'd like.
There are two kinds of professional teaching portfolios found in the literature:
- physical or print portfolio
- digital or electronic portfolio
The two are nearly identical in content, but differ in mode of delivery.
Portfolios are meant to show what is unique about you, and document your skill, creativity and worth to either an existing or potential employer.
Your current job, work experience and education will determine to a significant degree what sorts of things are included in the portfolio.
Items that might be used in a teaching portfolio include:
- table of contents
- resume or CV (curriculum vitae)
- goals and philosophy statement
- rationale for inclusion of the "artifacts" you have selected
- sample unit & lesson plans created
- method of showing standards which have been addressed
- pictures/video/audio of your teaching
- student work samples & project products
- sample tests or alternative assessments created
- grants, awards or other forms of recognition received
- case studies of specific teaching challenges solved
- screenshots of websites you or your students designed
- evaluations by your supervisor
- student evaluation data
- aggregated test scores for your classes, or achievement data
- transcripts & teaching certificates
- news clippings, or other media coverage about you or your class
- evidence of community service or volunteer work
These are starting points. Be sure to see the more detailed links below.
Care must be taken not to violate student confidentiality while documenting your accomplishments. You should get signed parental consent for any student photographs, video or work samples you use.
Most experts agree that some sort of rubric that details how your teaching reflects professional standards should be included. If you choose to do this, you must select a set of standards to use.
Unless you are limiting yourself to one geographical area, you should try to use national or international teaching standards. If you know that you only want to teach in one location, you may want to use that state's teaching standards.
Two significant efforts to develop national K-12 teaching standards are:
Model Core Standards for Teacher Licensing - INTASC
The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, or INTASC, is group of a state education agencies, colleges, universities, and national educational organizations which is concerned with entry level licensing comptencies. The Core Standards document details the knowledge, dispositions, and performances INTASC believes are essential for all beginning teachers wishing to practice in any of the states. The Council of Chief State School Officials (CCSSO) drives this organization. The group's Core Standards are not subject area, or grade level specific, but standards for Math and Special Education have been published, and draft Elementary standards are available.
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards - NBPTS
This group is more concerned with certifying advanced level
skill in the subject areas. This organization hopes for a certifying process that will be accepted between states, thus allowing for more veteran teacher mobility. To further that goal, National Board certification is now offered in a variety of subject fields to teachers with over three years experience. Five common core propositions, and specific standards for 19 subject & age level specialties have been developed, and four more are in process. All can be downloaded. See our page on teacher certification for details on the National Board certification process. A teaching portfolio, and several assessment center procedures are required of all candidates.
Specific Discipline Standards - NCATE
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is the primary organization evaluating teacher preparation programs. Each of their 17 disciplines has a separate set of standards, and an evaluation matrix. Very useful rsource.
Any experienced teacher undertaking a teaching portfolio process should at least consider National Board Certification. Some states and school districts now offer salary supplements, and other incentives for successful National Board Certification. The teaching portfolio is a signifcant step toward achieving the certificate.
Most subject areas in education also have a national organization which has developed teaching standards for members, but these are too numerous to list here. These would also serve as a sound basis for teaching portfolio development, but without the NBPTS certication benefit.
How are portfolios currently used?
In addition to National Certification, and job search support, there are several other current uses of teaching portfolios.
Classroom use is on the rise for student assessment, as well as for teaching portfolios in K-12 and higher education.
The world of higher education seems to have firmly adopted the use of the teaching portfolio for documentation of staff instructional skill, and overall worth to the organization.
Teaching portfolios are frequently used for tenure determination at the college and university level.
With the current standards and accountability movement, there may well come a time in K-12 teaching when tenure decisions are supported with portfolios. At the institutional level, documentation of standards-based instruction would be easier if staff created and maintained teaching portfolios.
For now, teaching portfolios in elementary and secondary education are primarily used for seeking new employment. Teachers seeking National Board Certification are required to use portfolios, and this trend may extend eventually to teacher licensing.
Administrators could certainly put together a similar package of documentation, although the literature is not as complete in this area.
Electronic or Digital Portfolios
Digital format is probably ideal for teaching portfolio development, but is limited by the teacher's skill in technology. A digital teaching portfolio can include all of the items above, and be delivered over the Internet, or on a CD, Zip or Jaz disk.
The same caveats exist, however, as with HTML resumes. A badly designed, or poorly functioning digital portfolio will not impress anyone, and may do more to hurt than help you.
There are some commercial software packages, and templates available for portfolio development. Aurbach & Associates, for instance, offers Teacher Profile, which is based on INTASC standards. Several of the resources we link to below have tutorials. But, if you don't think you can realistically pull it off, stick to paper, print and video tape.
Skills which would be needed to create a good digital portfolio from scratch include proficiency in:
- HTML or another "hypermedia" form allowing interactivity
- word processing and/or desktop publishing
- document scanning
- digital still photography
- digital video recording and/or conversion
We recommend Adobe's Acrobat software for creating cross-platform teaching portfolios. Acrobat can handle all the media types above - and more - in an integrated fashion which maintains a consistent look and feel on all computers. However, Acrobat is not an easy, or inexpensive creation tool.
Our second choice would be plain old HTML. It is cross-platform, too, and almost anyone in your intended audience will hava access to Netscape or Internet Explorer. Creation tools are freely available, and there are many shareware programs, and tutorials available on the Interet for self-instruction.
Sources which we crawled for these tips included major search engine indexes and directories, national and state professional associations, university websites, and the five regional education laboratories.
If you know of a good source of information on one of this issue, please drop us a line so that we can add to everyone's knowledge base.
Directory of Teaching Portfolio Resources on the Internet
Although we have divided these into K-12 and Higher Education sections, there is good information for any teacher beginning a portfolio in both sections.
Our annotated directory of links on designing and constructing teaching portfolios should get you started in the righ direction.:
Teaching Portfolio Advice for K-12 Educators
Electronic Teaching Portfolios - Dr. Helen Barrett, University of Alaska
This is a nice overview, and has good references. Dr. Barrett has been involved with electronic portfolio development for many years, and has an extensive resource list that is a must for those undertaking a portfolio project. One of many document links on Dr. Barrett's site is an article on constructing a portfolio with common software tools.
Teaching Portfolios for Pre-service Teachers - Salisbury University, MD
Pre-service teachers must complete portfolios as part of their program. This turorial information is designed to support education majors, but is a great resource for anyone just starting out on the road to portfolio development. Includes a sample portfolio, and descriptions of the steps of creating your own. Tutorials are provided for using digital video and audio with an HTML interface.
EDLF 589 - Electronic Portfolios - Curry School of Education
This is a list of sample electronic portfolios, including some from both K-12 and higher education.
Teaching Portfolio Advice for Higher Education
Note: although these links are for teaching portfolio use in higher education, there is some great material here with implications for K-12 implementation.
Teaching Portfolio Guidelines - Sheridan Center, Brown Univeristy
A guide for teaching portfolio development, and links to some samples. An expanded guide is also available.
Teaching Portfolios - Wisconsin State University
The Teaching Portfolio at WSU - Washington State University
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