Last time as you may recall I rattled on a bit about getting going with your portfolio, which is, to give it as brief a definition as possible, is a massively extended CV with attached documentation designed for a particular audience (my boss and the academic board in my case). Today I’m doing to focus on how I actually put mine together.
Start collecting illustrations that display what a wonderful teacher you are. At this point you might want to do something that I didn’t, which was to get a clear idea of exactly what you’re allowed to include. What I wanted to do was to include a DVD of materials and various other illustrations of my teaching, but found out at the last minute that this couldn’t be included and that everything had to be on paper. My ambition to save the trees goes unabated. Nevertheless, by thinking about the variety of things I could include at an early stage, I was (hopefully) able to create a portfolio that presents an authentic, rich and detailed illustration of who I am as a teacher. I’d suggest that, whatever you do at this stage, keep your evidence in a special, safe place away from your everyday teaching paraphernalia.
6. Select evidence of your teaching genius
This is where you start to get down to the nitty gritty. Reflect on what you have collected and think about what you’re going to include and what you don’t need. Like me, you might have to include a paper document that describes everything that you’ve done, along with any worksheets or materials that you’ve made that showcase particular aspects of your teaching. Like I mentioned, I wanted to include a DVD of materials and resources that would have offered a wider scope of possible illustrations than mere paper documentation. Nevertheless, working within the permitted parameters will always enable you to show off what you can do if you consider your achievements carefully.
7. Discuss your portfolio with friends and colleagues
By the time I was required to prepare mine, a lot of my colleagues had already gone through the process and others still were putting theirs together at the same time as me. Some had gone into amazing detail while others had taken a more economic route to completing their portfolios. Having the opportunity to share what I was doing with people who’d adopted these various approaches was invaluable. This early feedback, coupled with the opportunity to browse through what others had done, enabled me to incorporate ideas that I might not have thought about otherwise. There’s no shame in asking your colleagues for help!
8. Assembling your portfolio
Think about the organisation of your portfolio; will those reading it be able to follow it carefully? I was lucky in this respect in that I was provided with a point by point document with headings I was advised to use. Think about the way you organize things and don’t be frightened to play around with things until it makes the most sense. For me the most important part of my portfolio was my reflections section in which I described in detail all of my teaching activities. Without my detailed reflections the illustrations of my teaching would have been a random collection of documents.
So, that’s taken me from the point of being told that I had to hand in a portfolio to the point where I’d put it together. In the final part of this short series I’ll look at the hand in process and what comes after, together with giving you a lot of useful links for those of you who’ll have to do this in the future.
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