How to prepare a teaching portfolio: Part one – getting started

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I’ve been busy recently, as busy as anyone who has had to – as opposed to wanted to – put together a teaching portfolio will attest. It’s not that I wasn’t warned; I was told six months in advance when I would have to hand in my documents. It isn’t even that I wasn’t proactive; I got cracking as soon as I could and steadily worked on the portfolio over the course of half a year. Despite this, there was still a lot of headless chicken-like running around going on in the days leading up to the hand in. So, how did I do it? What did I do right? What did I do wrong? Here are, in pretty much chronological order, the steps I took in putting together my portfolio.

1. Why are you doing this?

For me this was an easy step. Wherever possible I like to avoid paddleless trips to shit creek, which is where I would have found myself, at least in job terms, if I hadn’t delivered a portfolio. In many ways I was glad to have this external necessity forced upon me, but there may be a different reason why you decide to start yours. If you’re about to start compiling your portfolio, the first thing I’d suggest you do is be clear about why and for whom you are doing it.

2. Read the guidelines

If there’s a particular procedure or set of instructions to follow, it really is best that you familiarize yourself with them before you even begin. You need to know what’s expected of you and this will make things easier in the long run. I was lucky in that I had a very clear document to work from and a very helpful member of admin staff to consult. Knowing what is wanted in advance will help you begin to get your head around what kinds of thing you want to include and make sure that you include everything that’s necessary. I made sure I did this and had a pretty good idea from the off of what my final product would look like.

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3. Take your time

Don’t leave it until the last minute. Just don’t, alright! Compiling a portfolio takes time, several months in my case. Although I started as soon as I found out when I would have to submit it, I still feel that there were things I’d have retrospectively liked to have included. Fortunately, I’d kept a lot of the materials I thought would be relevant clearly filed but I still wished I’d put over stuff in.

4. Seek inspiration

If you can, borrow and read other people’s portfolios for inspiration. I was lucky enough that many of my colleagues had already gone through the process of compiling their portfolios and many were willing to share the ideas on what to include with me. In turn, I’m willing to help my colleagues in the future.

In the next part of this short series, I’ll look into how I went about collecting data, selecting what I thought was appropriate, what advice I sought and how I started putting it together.

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16 thoughts on “How to prepare a teaching portfolio: Part one – getting started

  1. I remember doing my teaching portfolio. We had to do one for our PGCEs, and had to make sure all the qualified teacher status (QTS) standards were covered. I pulled a few all-nighters to get it done. If you’re doing a paper portfolio, start putting it together from day dot. One person in our tutor group did it online through a blog (i think it was WordPress). There are some other sites like qstandards.co.uk too. Either way, if you’re on a PGCE, it’s worth starting the portfolio soonish.

  2. I’ve just been creating an e-portfolio as a CV for a job I was applying for but didn’t think about making a teaching portfolio, more a work I’ve done as an edtech trainer and generally my life/work experience… so I’m with Natalia – what’s a teaching portfolio and can we see yours, is it online?

  3. Pretty good question and on I should have addressed a bit more quickly. I doubt it’s much different to your e-portfolio, but I’^ll more clearly define what I’m doing in part two which should be on the blog any week soon.

  4. You really make it seem so easy with your posts but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get my head around it!

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