Teacher Portfolios: Tips for Current and Future Teachers

Teacher portfolios are most often requested and expected from university and college professors. However, more and more elementary and secondary school teachers are creating portfolios in order to highlight their achievements and set them apart from the competition when they are up for a promotion or looking for a job.

What to Include in a Teaching Portfolio

Portfolios will vary from person to person and be different depending on what subject you teach, but most will contain some of the following sections:

  • Goals - discuss what the instructor hopes to ultimately achieve as a teacher. Some examples would include heading the department, achieving an exemplary service record, completing research/publishing papers, etc.

  • Responsibilities - explain what the teacher's past jobs entailed and what the educator is willing to take on in the future. For instance, the educator might have taught over 100 students each semester and be willing to teach 120 in the future.

  • Achievements - list the awards the teacher has received and the other accomplishments she has attained during the course of her career.

  • Recommendations - Recommendations are letters from people who are in a position to comment on the applicant's teaching credentials. These recommendations can come from past teachers or professors, teaching colleagues, principals, etc. The most prestigious and complimentary ones should go first in the portfolio.

  • Work Samples - show impressive work the instructor has completed, including publications, research projects, and even curriculum and measurement tools developed by the teacher.

  • Innovations - highlight new ideas the teacher has proposed and successfully implemented in order to improve the learning environment. A couple might include creating new clubs or organizations in the school or organizing an annual literary festival.

  • Leadership - is shown by listing the various committees the instructor has chaired, clubs he has sponsored, students he has mentored, etc.

  • Associations - include lists of the different professional organizations the teacher has participated in as well as any leadership positions she has held that are not already previously listed.

Teaching Portfolios for Current vs. Future Teachers

For current teachers who do not have a portfolio, they need to start compiling one. Veteran instructors should think back over the course of their careers and the types of things they have done that would be impressive in a portfolio. Also for students who are working on your their certification or professionals looking to change careers, they should begin collecting awards, letters or recommendation, lists of accomplishments, etc. so that when the time comes for them to create a teaching portfolio, they will have everything they need.

Paper vs. Online Teaching Portfolios

Both paper and online teaching portfolios have their advantages. A scrapbooking style portfolio is impressive to take to job interviews and teacher fairs to show potential employers exactly what the candidate has accomplished during the course of her career. This type of paper portfolio may also be required if a professor is being considered for tenure or a promotion at the college or university level. On the other hand, an online portfolio is beneficial when various school districts or colleges/universities require teachers to submit their credentials online. So it's a good idea to create both.

All professional educators should have a teaching portfolio to show along with their resume so that they can maximize their chances for career success.