“A portfolio contains documents and materials which collectively suggest the scope and quality of a teacher’s performance.” —Peter Seldin, author of The Teaching Portfolio
A teaching portfolio is a collection of artifacts, such as student learning data, reflections of thinking, and professional development experiences, which provide evidence of a person’s teaching accomplishments. These accomplishments are unique because they are connected to the person’s teaching philosophy, specific courses they teach, and contexts. The word portfolio—used as a verb, rather than a noun—can be thought of as a process of archiving the teacher you are becoming.
Why Create a Teaching Portfolio?
Creating a teaching portfolio has many benefits both for you and for others.
Benefits for You
- Meets Quality Faculty Plan requirements for full-time and adjunct instructors at Hawkeye Community College
- Documentation of professional development activities
- Evidence of learning in your classroom
- A story about how your teaching has evolved over time
- Examples of teaching success to share during an interview
- Validation of meeting professional criteria for promotion
- Sharing with peers in faculty learning community sessions
- Provide a way to document a legacy upon retirement
Benefits to your Academic Department
- Transfer of knowledge to benefit new faculty
- Sharing and peer feedback on collaborative approaches to improving teaching for learning
Benefits to your Academic Dean
- Evidence of application/growth in professional development
- Share accomplishments
Benefits to External Groups
Example: State of Iowa, Department of Education
- Accountability measures
- Evidence of focus on learning vs. teaching
Benefits when seeking Grants
- Rationale/evidence of history in teaching for learning when seeking grants related to teaching
Writing Your Teaching Philosophy
Picture yourself at a celebration honoring you for your teaching experience. What would you want your former students to be able to genuinely say about you as a teacher?
Writing your teaching philosophy is less about explaining the activities you use in your classroom and more about explaining why you use the activities, resources, and strategies you choose.
When writing your teaching philosophy, just start writing. A teaching philosophy will evolve, don’t worry about making it perfect. Get something on paper to start with and then refine your written philosophy when you review it annually. Don’t throw your first draft away, it's fun to read the various versions over time and is a way to evidence your professional development as a teacher.
Questions to Help You Get Started
- What is learning?
- How do I know learning has occurred?
- What is my role in learning and what is the role of my students?
- Who are my models for good teaching and why?
- What are my goals for student learning and what strengths do I possess for helping students to achieve those goals?
- Why do I select particular assignments for my students and not others?
- What goals do I have for becoming a better teacher and why are they important to me?
Identifying Strengths and Talent
- What major claims would I make about my teaching?
- When students give feedback about my teaching, what strengths do they identify most often?
Selecting Items for Your Portfolio
A good teaching portfolio will have a balance of artifacts from self, from others, and from products of student learning.
These are examples of things you may want to include, but you are invited to use your imagination to share your unique story!
- Syllabi for courses taught
- Samples of your instructional planning
- Samples of student work
- A recording of your teaching
- Reflections throughout the development and implementation of a new course
- Findings representing classroom research
- Peer coach reviews
- Charts showing student performance over time
- Written comments from student evaluations
- Faculty development certificates
- Honors and recognition received
Throughout the year, collect a variety of artifacts in a folder that you think might go in your portfolio. At the end of the year, select the most essential items to place in your portfolio.
The portfolio should not look like a scrapbook. Items placed in the portfolio should be included for a specific purpose. It is helpful to write captions on everything and written reflections on the few outstanding pieces. Captions should be no more than a few words or one sentence about why you included the piece.
The best way to decide whether an artifact should go into the portfolio is your answer to this question, “Does the artifact directly evidence progress on the goal I have set and/or the story I am trying to tell?” If the answer is yes, put it in your portfolio with a brief caption about why you selected it.