What is the purpose of portfolio development? What kind of information is required for a perfect portfolio?
When individuals hear the word portfolio, many different images come to mind. Artists think of compiling their best work (e.g., paintings, pottery, portraits, and sculptures) for review, whereas a portfolio for teachers often contains gathered samples of lesson plans, units of study, and professional documents that reflect the knowledge, skills, and beliefs of the teacher. In today’s digital world, portfolios are oftentimes presented in a variety of formats, including through websites, on CDs or DVDs, or through various software. Whereas the artist’s portfolio describes each piece of art in writing, giving details about the artistic design, teachers’ portfolios describe their success and that of their masterpieces, their students. Teachers who develop portfolios reflect on each piece of work, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses, as well as the changes they would make in their teaching related to student success.
The teacher’s portfolio is used for self-evaluation or external review. Both of these images are correct representations of portfolios because they both have several specific components:
1. They have a specific purpose. The artist’s portfolio shows his or her artistic abilities, whereas the teacher’s portfolio shows his or her knowledge, skills, and abilities related to teaching,
2. They are developed for a specific audience. The artist’s audience is a potential employer, and the teacher is himself or herself or external reviewers.
3. They contain work samples, commonly called evidence. Evidence is the “stuff or “things that are put into the portfolio. The artist’s evidence would be the paintings, pottery, Portraits, and sculptures. The teacher’s evidence would include student work, lesson plans, units of study, and other professional documents.
4. They have reflections. Both the artist and the teacher would have written thoughts on the evidence contained in the portfolio.
Portfolio development is the process by which a student documents and demonstrates college-level competencies (knowledge and skills) acquired in environments and agencies outside the traditional higher education classroom. In essence, it is evidence that the student has met learning outcomes or objectives equivalent to specific university courses. Knowledge and skills gained through work, training, or life experiences may translate to college credit if students can document and demonstrate comprehension of learning outcomes and objectives equivalent to our courses. Students must be able to demonstrate at least 70% knowledge of learning outcomes or objectives of a related college course, which most often includes theoretical or conceptual knowledge as well as application of subject-specific principles.
Purpose of Portfolio Development
Teachers create portfolios for a variety of reasons. In teacher education programs, students develop portfolios to demonstrate their achievement. Later, they may present these portfolios at job interviews. Experienced teachers construct portfolios to become eligible for bonuses and advanced certification. And, some administrators have invited teachers to become architects of their own professional development by having them create portfolios based on individual growth plans.
In Colorado, for example, teachers are preparing portfolios in many different settings. In the Douglas County School District south of Denver, teachers submit portfolios to demonstrate their teaching excellence. Those who meet district standards receive annual performance bonuses.
Selecting the Contents
A portfolio might include items such as lesson plans, anecdotal records, student projects, class newsletters, videotapes, annual evaluations, letters of recommendation, and the like. It is important, however, to carefully select the contents of the finished portfolio so that it is manageable, both for the person who constructs it and for those who will review it. While the specific form and content of a portfolio can vary depending upon its purpose, most portfolios contain some combination of teaching artefacts and written reflections. These are the heart of the portfolio. The introductory section, in which the teacher broadly describes his or her teaching philosophy and goals, and the concluding section, which contains evidence of ongoing professional development and formal evaluations, provide a frame for these artefacts and reflection(Wolf, 1996).
Developing Your Profile
● Explain your educational philosophy and teaching goals. Describe in broad strokes the key principles that underlie your practice. These principles will help you select goals for your portfolio.
● Choose specific features of your instructional program to document. Collect a wide range of artefacts, and dates and annotate them so you will remember important details when assembling the final portfolio. Consider keeping a journal for written reflections on your teaching.
● Collaborate with a mentor and other colleagues. This is an essential, but often overlooked, part of the process. Ideally, your mentor will have experience both in teaching and in portfolio construction. And consider meeting at regular intervals to discuss your teaching and your portfolio with a group of colleagues.
● Assemble your portfolio in a form that others can readily examine. While any number of containers will work, the easiest to organize and handle seems to be a loose-leaf notebook. (Electronic portfolios may soon replace notebooks.)
● Assess the portfolio. Assessment can range from an informal self-assessment to formal scoring by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Such assessments are tied to specific performance standards. (The Douglas County School District in Colorado has identified three categories, each of which contains specific criteria, for assessing outstanding teachers: assessment and instruction, content and pedagogy, and collaboration and partnership(Wolf, 1996).
A Means to an End
Portfolios have much to offer the teaching profession. When teachers carefully examine their own practices, those practices are likely to improve. The examples of accomplished practice that portfolios provide also can be studied and adapted for use in other classrooms.
Too often, good teaching vanishes without a trace because we have no structure or tradition for preserving the best of what teachers do. Portfolios allow teachers to retain examples of good teaching so they can examine them, talk about them, adapt them, and adopt them.
Finally, it is important to remember that the objective is not to create outstanding portfolios, but rather to cultivate outstanding teaching and teach (Wolf, 1996). Another way to make your portfolio easy for readers to navigate.
Furthermore, categories can demonstrate your range. If you’re a marketing generalist who does social media strategy, press outreach, and blog copy, you’d probably want to categorize your work as well. After all, you wouldn’t want someone looking for Instagram help to have to sort through the magazine placements you’ve scored former clients.
A good portfolio is made even better when it’s part of a portfolio including a bit about your story, background, and what type of person you’re like to work with. Freelance writers clearly understand this principle. In addition to a portfolio with a curated list of links to her writing, her website features an “About” page that includes a bit about her both personally and professionally, a portrait of herself, and a description of her writing tone and style giving you a clear picture that she’s the type of person you’d want to work with(Frost, n.d).