The Teacher Portfolio: Part A

The Teacher Portfolio - Is it better to go traditional or digital? Advice from #teacher #portfolio #digital #organization
For some, it's a dusty binder on the shelf that hasn't been opened since undergrad. For others, it's a hackneyed website hastily put together for tenure with an overabundance of now-broken links and dated lesson plans. For me, I believe the teacher portfolio is a resource full of untapped potential.

Last week I had the opportunity to present the most current version of my own portfolio. The portfolio-building process began for me in my college classes. As part of our teacher licensing, my education major friends and I were required to put together a portfolio showcasing everything we had learned through our coursework and practicum experiences.

Later, I put together a digital teacher portfolio during my first three years as a teacher to help me keep track of what I had learned and showcase what I had accomplished. While switching schools I moved back from the front lines of technology to a more traditional paper and file system. It was those paper files that I organized and presented to my tenure committee last week.

After piecing together snippets of my work over the last decade, I have developed a great appreciation for the possibilities portfolios present. I would like to think of a teacher portfolio much like an artist portfolio. As a teacher, I want to be able to share the good work I've done - examples of what's worked and reflections on what needs to be improved next time. Portfolios can capture all of that, and I believe they should as dynamic, living artifacts of my efforts and experiences.

I am confident that maintaining a portfolio (in some form or another) is something that I will continue to do through my teaching career. (You can check in with me in a decade or two to see if that commitment still rings true!) What I'm not confident about is the best way to organize a portfolio. After having taken both paths, it is clear there are pros and cons to both traditional paper portfolios and their digital counterparts.

The Traditional
  • straightforward to assemble and organize
  • artifacts and exemplars stay true to form

  • bulky and often unwieldy
  • not easy to carry around

  • three-ring binders
  • hanging file folders

The Tech Noveau
  • easy to share/link
  • can highlight digital work
  • easy to incorporate audio/visual elements

  • may require more time to create
  • viewers may need more time to navigate
  • some artifacts may look different digitized

  • Google Sites
  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • Padlet

Whatever you choose, make sure it is something you are comfortable and confident sharing with others. Think of your portfolio as a reflection of your professionalism and keep saving artifacts that demonstrate your growth as a teacher. For me, I will probably settle somewhere between the two options, with a mix of digital and traditional organizational methods that makes sense to me.

For more information about what to include in your portfolio, please stay tuned for The Teacher Portfolio: Part B!