First of all, “What is a portfolio?”

A portfolio is an organized, goal-driven documentation of your professional growth and competence in the complex act called teaching. It is a collection of documents that provides tangible evidence of the wide range of knowledge, dispositions, and skills that you possess as a growing professional. What’s more, documents in the portfolio are self-selected, reflecting your individuality and autonomy. Therefore, a portfolio is not merely a file of course projects and assignments, nor is it a scrapbook of teaching memorabilia.

There are actually two kinds of portfolios that you should develop: a working portfolio and a presentation portfolio. A working portfolio is characterized by your ongoing systematic collection of selected work in courses and evidence of community activities. This collection forms a framework for self-assessment and goal setting. You should also develop a presentation portfolio by winnowing your collection down to samples of your work that best reflect your competence, individuality, and creativity as a professional educator.

Guidelines for Assembling Your Portfolio

Creating a portfolio takes time and personal reflection. The process of developing a portfolio begins early in your professional career, when you start to collect documents and pieces of your work that exemplify your capabilities as a teacher. The working portfolio will be extensive and should contain everything you have done that you judge to be worthy of saving.

The presentation portfolio is streamlined; only the most pertinent material for the position is organized and displayed. Both types of portfolios are organized in the same manner. Documents are categorized by standards that you have adopted. These standards are goals that will guide you throughout your teacher preparation work, your career, or both.


Start Here & Now

Choose a way to store your documents. The working portfolio will contain a multitude of artifacts that need to be organized and stored in a place that is easily accessible, like a large file box.

Choose a Set of Standards

If you are a preservice teacher, you may well be assigned a particular set of standards to use when developing your portfolio. Many schools of education have developed or adapted their own sets of goals for their students. Some use the standards set by their particular state department of education. Other programs rely on standards developed by professional societies such as the Council for Exceptional Children or the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC). If you are an inservice teacher, it is more likely that you will have the freedom to choose a set of standards for guiding portfolio work.

Make the Presentation Portfolio Unique

Your presentation portfolio will be unique because it reflects your abilities, your strengths, your professionalism. No one else will have a portfolio like yours because you have written all the documents. Others will be able to see very quickly what you know about teaching and what you believe about education.

Be Creative

You may wish to add touches of creativity such as pertinent artwork, photographs, video clips, or famous quotations. Keep it simple. You do not want to detract from the work you are trying to showcase, nor do you want to appear as if you are trying to hide incompetence.

Two Steps You Must Remember to Do

Identify Yourself
As you move through various stages of your professional career, documents in your professional portfolio will change, however, the following are beneficial at any stage:

  • Letter of introduction or preface to the portfolio
  • Your photograph taken by a professional photographer
  • Biographical sketch
  • Résumé
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts
  • Student teaching evaluations
  • Certification documents
  • Philosophy of education statement
Create a Table of Contents
Once you have all the pieces to your presentation portfolio assembled, prepare a table of contents to aid your reviewers. The following is a sample table of contents built around INTASC standards.


About the Author
Philosophy of Education
Personal Data


Letters of Recommendation


Student Teaching Evaluations

Artifacts for Standard One – Knowledge of Subject Matter

Science Unit on Geology

Research Paper on Medieval Times

Artifacts for Standard Two – Knowledge of Human Development and Learning

Case Study of a Seventh-Grade Boy

Observation Report on Characteristics of Third Graders

Artifacts for Standard Three – Adapting Instruction for Individual Needs

Self-Evaluation of Teaching a Talented and Gifted Group

Letter of Recommendation on Coaching Multilevel Swimmers

Artifacts for Standard Four – Multiple Instructional Strategies

Cooperative Learning Activity

Discovery Lesson on Immigration

Artifacts for Standard Five – Classroom Motivation and Management Skills

Behavior Analysis after Implementing a Reward System

Summary of Workshops on Proactive Classroom Management

Artifacts for Standard Six – Communication Skills

PowerPoint Presentation on Mammals

Public Speaking Competition Award

Artifacts for Standard Seven – Instructional Planning Skills

Lesson Plan on Money

Lesson Plan on Natural Disasters

Artifacts for Standard Eight – Assessment of Student Learning

Performance Assessment for Unit on Pond Life

Chapter Test in Social Studies

Artifacts for Standard Nine – Professional Commitment and Responsibility

Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year Certificate

Pictures of Afterschool Fitness Program

Artifacts for Standard Ten – Partnerships

Homework Assignments Encouraging Parent Involvement

Participation Log for Parent Teacher Association

A final Word: Reflections on the Past; Goals for the Future

Remember, the portfolio portrays you as an individual and as a professional. It shows evidence of your personal insights into your experiences and that you have reflected on what you can do. In short, it is your showcase; use it to your advantage.

How to Develop A Professional Portfolio A Manual for Teachers

The contents of this article is extracted from the book How to Develop A Professional Portfolio A Manual for Teachers by Campbell, Dorothy M.; Cignetti, Pamela Bondi; Melenyzer, Beverly J.; Nettles, Diane H.; Wyman, Richard M. We highly recommend that you purchase the book to use as a guide.

This versatile and practical book provides clear, manageable guidelines and tips for professional portfolio development that can be followed by teachers at all stages of their careers. In seven concise chapters, this book offers preservice and in-service teachers step-by-step procedures for portfolio development, using national teaching standards as the organizing system, and offers teachers an extensive list of pragmatic artifact possibilities to showcase their professional growth.