What is a Teaching Portfolio?
"A teaching portfolio is a coherent set of materials, including work samples and reflective commentary on them, compiled by a faculty member to inquire into and represent his or her teaching practice as related to student learning and development." -- Pat Hutchings, (1993) American Association of Higher Education.
Typically, a teaching portfolio is a dossier that includes selected documentation of your teaching effectiveness and your reflection on your teaching.
What is the Purpose of a Teaching Portfolio?
There are several reasons why a teacher would need to design a portfolio. The most common are for hiring decisions, promotion and tenure, and sometimes for teaching awards. Typically one submits only a cover letter and CV when first applying for a job. Once a campus interview has been offered, it is a good idea to have a portfolio ready to offer as a presentation of your teaching effectiveness. However, there is great variability in this process. For example, some employers might request that you submit a Statement of Teaching Philosophy with your CV, or a summary of student evaluations. Thus, it is a good idea to have a comprehensive, ongoing, and changing teaching portfolio that you can excerpt from as appropriate.
What should be included?
Teaching portfolios have as much variability as individual teachers. Peter Seldin, who has written extensively on teaching portfolios, suggests that the materials should come evenly from three different areas: 1) information from self, such as a statement of teaching philosophy and reflections; 2) information from others, such as student, faculty, or peer evaluations; and 3) products, such as course materials.
Within these categories, some aspects of a teaching portfolio that may be included are:
Statement of teaching philosophy. Most teaching portfolios include this brief (1-2 page) explication on your philosophy about teaching near the beginning.
Student evaluation summaries. Some documentation of student evaluations should always be included. The way that you present this data, however, can take many forms. Some possibilities are:
- A table summarizing numerical end of semester evaluations for all classes taught
- Sample mid-term and end-of-semester comments from a recent class, with a reflection on how you used feedback to improve your teaching
- Copies of official university evaluation summaries
- Selected comments from students (from qualitative portion of evaluations), organized by course, or theme (about "leading discussions," "being available to students," etc.)
The exercise: Presenting and Reflecting on Student Evaluations offers suggestions for presenting this data and a writing exercise to begin writing a reflection on them.
A curriculum vitae or
A list of post-secondary courses taught, if CV was sent separately. This list could provide more detailed information than a CV, such as class size and make-up (e.g., mostly upperclass English majors, a freshman core course, etc.).
Sample course materials, such as:
- Assignments and grading guide
- A student paper with comments (with identifying information removed, and with a statement of student permission)
- Lesson plan
- Exam or quiz
- Description of semester-long project
- Course website excerpts
- Reflections on materials. Write a brief reflection on the materials you have chosen to showcase (1 page maximum).
Writing Reflections on Teaching Materials includes some guidelines and writing questions to begin drafting reflections.
List of professional interactions about teaching. These activities could include serving as a mentor to new TAs, assisting in department or university TA orientation, creating assignments or exams for other TAs to use, etc.
Documentation of classroom observation by a faculty member. Some departments have formal observation practices with appropriate documentation, such as a letter.
How do I get started?
Beginning a Teaching Portfolio: Questions to Consider is an exercise that asks you to jot down the answers to several questions which might help to guide the development of your teaching portfolio.
Review other teaching portfolios. Look at the teaching portfolios of friends, colleagues, or advisors. When conducting a faculty search, departments often have the dossiers of prospective applicants available for review by faculty and graduate students. This is a great opportunity to see how others at the early stage in their career have presented their professional experiences. CTE also has several sample teaching portfolios for review.
Write a statement of teaching philosophy. Articulating your values about teaching helps you choose the best pieces of evidence to support those values. For example, if your teaching philosophy highlights the importance of collaborative learning, find an assignment or project that showcases how you use this approach.
Begin to organize student evaluations. Find and read over past student evaluations. See if you notice any trends. In what areas have you improved and how? See Presenting and Reflecting on Student Evaluations for more ideas.
Find sample materials. Review syllabi, assignments, lesson plans, and classroom materials, and choose those which represent your best work. Begin drafting 2-3 paragraph reflective essays on each of these topics. See Writing Reflections on Teaching Materials .
Schedule a classroom observation by a faculty member. Have the faculty member write a letter describing the observation.
How should it be formatted?
All teaching portfolios should have a table of contents. This is your central organizing document and it should be clear and concise. After that, there is great variability in how the portfolio is organized. No matter what order you choose for your documents, the American Association of Higher Education recommends that a portfolio be structured, representative and selective.
- It should follow a logical format and be easy for readers to follow.
- Formatting should be clear and consistent. Use continuous pagination and/or use tabs and dividers. Nothing turns a reader off more than a document that is disorganized and tedious to read.
- It should offer the best snap-shot of your teaching practices. Include materials that best exemplify your teaching philosophy.
- It should be honest. Try to represent yourself as accurately as possible. Refrain from padding, but highlight the positives. If you include negative evaluations, show how you have used this feedback to improve your teaching, and include subsequent positive evaluations.
- It should be limited. Most people will start out with a much more comprehensive portfolio than is necessary, and much of the work will be pruning it down to the best examples of your work.
- Seldin (1997) suggests that the portfolio be divided between the narrative components, placed first, and appendices with supporting materials. Other teachers might integrate the narrative components and supporting materials. Consider the pros and cons of each approach and use a format that makes sense with your materials.
Where can I find other resources?
CTE's Online and Print Resources
- American Association for Higher Education.(1993) Campus Use of the Teaching Portfolio.
- Edgerton, R. (1991) Teaching Portfolio: Capturing the Scholarship in Teaching.
- Murray, J.P. (1997) Successful Faculty Development and Evaluation: The Complete Teaching Portfolio.
- Seldin, P. (1993) Successful Use of Teaching Portfolios.
- Seldin, P. (1997) The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improve Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions. Second Edition.
CTE also offers individual consulting on this and other topics. Call (412) 396-5177 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Sample Cover Letter for a Teacher
Example of a Cover Letter for Teaching and Education Jobs
Cover letters for teaching positions should demonstrate that the candidate has the requisite training, education, and certification for the job, as well as any special skills outlined in the job listing.
You might want to stress skills like communication, critical thinking and organization, as well as any specific experience that will help distinguish you from the competition. Newer teachers can feel free to mention experience gained during their training and education, as long as it applies to the position.
The usual rules for cover letters apply: give the hiring manager a sense of your experience, skills, and philosophy, but don’t try to tell your whole life story in a few paragraphs. If your resume and portfolio are your highlight reel, your cover letter is the teaser: you want to get the reader’s attention and make them want to know more. Keep it succinct, and don’t duplicate the information in your resume or CV.
The following is an example of a cover letter for a teaching position, as well as a sample teaching resume.
Sample Cover Letter for a Teacher
Your City, State, ZIP Code
City, State, ZIP Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,
I have a very strong interest in pursuing a teaching career. With experience working at both the elementary and high school levels, as well as in activities outside of the traditional classroom, I have a diverse background with much to offer.
My first classroom teaching experience was during high school. I was a volunteer elementary school religion teacher at a local church for three years. In addition, I worked for several summers at Sunny Beaches Arts Camp teaching theater, and each season, I coordinated and staged a play.
I have student teaching experience on the first- and third grade levels, in both suburban and urban school districts.
I particularly enjoyed working with at-risk children. My careful preparation of lessons allowed me to break down complicated concepts to simple examples that my young students could grasp, which was rewarding for both my students and me.
Last year, while studying in Milan, I taught English to high school students. Managing the difference of abilities among my students proved a difficult, but gratifying, challenge. I tailored activities to maintain the interest of high-level students without intimidating less-skilled English speakers.
My resume is enclosed. I will forward an official copy of my transcript along with references under separate cover. I will contact you next week to discuss employment opportunities; in the meantime, please feel free to contact me at [insert telephone number] or [insert email address.]. I look forward to speaking with you.
Thank you for your consideration.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Teacher Resume Example
The following is an example of a resume for a teacher. It includes teaching experience, certification and other work experience. Again, it’s a good idea to match your resume to the ad, selecting keywords that appear in the job listing.
This will increase the chances that your resume will make it through the applicant tracking system and to a real person’s eyes.
123 Main Street
Chicago, IL 12345
(111) (111 -1111)
Teach For America, Chicago, IL
Month 20XX - Month 20XX
- Developed lesson plans, reviewed and graded in-class and homework assignments; instructed fourth-grade English students at P.S. 123
Stanislus College Early Childhood Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
Month 20XX - Month 20XX
- Responsible for leading educational activities for daycare-aged children, including interactive software, basic reading and writing skills.
- Responsible in assisting with all other classroom and administrative duties
Camp Ramapo for Children, Rhinebeck, NY
Month 20XX - Month 20XX
- Monitored special-needs teens (13 to 17 years old) throughout daily activities.
- Counseled, supervised and chaperoned camp attendees during daily activities and field trips.
- Promoted safety and enhanced summer fun and learning experiences.
- Resided in same quarters as teen-age girls; provided residence guidance six days per week.
Stanislus College, Saratoga Springs, NY
- Bachelors of Science: Education Studies (Provisional Certification in Elementary Education)
- Bachelors of Arts: Classics; Department Honors
Universidad Autonóma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
- Advanced studies abroad in Education
- Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAST) & Content Specialty Test (CST)
- Teach for America training and certification
- Fluent: English, Latin
- Conversational: Spanish
Read More:More Cover Letters for Teachers | Teacher Resume Examples | Teaching Skills List for Resumes & Cover Letters | Teaching Interview Questions & Answers