Creating Your Teacher’s Portfolio

3_ring_binderOne of my favorite people to follow online is Austin Kleon, a writer/artist who makes art with words and books with pictures. He wrote a book called, Show Your Work! It is a great read that I strongly recommend. In it he talks about the importance of showing your work to others and becoming “findable.” I think this is something we, as teachers, need to do more often.

If you have graduated from college in the past couple of years then I am sure you still have your teaching portfolio around somewhere, in a drawer, under the bed or stashed away in a filing cabinet. If you are a more veteran teacher then your portfolio could have been lost along with those tax receipts from 2002.

Either way, it is time to create a new one, whether you are looking for a new position or not. Why? Because a teaching portfolio is the best way to showcase your skills and growth, and because many of the new teacher evaluation models require a lot of the same components anyway. Think of it like a brag book that can pull double duty.

You do amazing things. It is time to have a way to show that outside the four walls of your classroom. And who knows, in the process you just might do some reflecting on your practice that will lead to something even greater.

Need a refresher on what to include? Organize your material into 3 separate sections. Start with this:

Background Information

  • resume
  • background information on teacher and teaching context
  • educational philosophy and teaching goals

Teaching Artifacts and Reflections Documenting an Extended Teaching Activity

  • overview of unit goals and instructional plan
  • list of resources used in unit
  • two consecutive lesson plans
  • video recording of teaching
  • student work examples
  • evaluation of student work
  • reflective commentary by the teacher
  • additional units/lessons/student work as appropriate

Professional Information

  • list of professional activities
  • letters of recommendation
  • formal evaluations

Does everything listed here need to end up in your portfolio? Of course not. I for one hate shooting videos of my class. The students never act natural and the results always seem forced. This may be (probably is) because I just am not good at this particular type of evidence. So for my portfolio I rely much more heavily on written work. You may do wonders with video- great, then include some video files.

The next step is to decide how you want to showcase your teaching portfolio. Here, the choices are nearly limitless. You can go all the way  from the traditional 3-ring binder route all the way to a professionally designed website, and just about anything in between.

Personally, I think a great way to do this is to create a slide presentation with embedded links. You can upload these to Slideshare and easily attach it to your LinkedIn profile.

However you decide to create it, and whatever you decide to include, the act of showing your work will both help you reflect on your own teaching practice and methods, as well as work as an excellent job search tool if and when you need to move to a new school.

Have questions about how to do any of these steps? Just shoot me an email at steve@stevepbrady.me . I’d love to help.