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It's important to maintain a record of your teaching experience. Saving copies of syllabi, tests, assignments, student work, etc., will not only mean you don't have to recreate these documents, but will also help you prepare for departmental reviews of teaching effectiveness.
Mandates from the University Senate require that student evaluations of teaching and peer review of teaching be considered in tenure and promotion decisions. However, each department has created its own plan for how these two elements will be used in decision making. Before you begin the process of documenting your teaching, it's important that you learn how your department will evaluate your teaching. (Refer to the Understanding Your Teaching Responsibilities section of your departmental guide for specific questions you may wish to ask colleagues and administrators.)
A teaching portfolio is similar to an artist's portfolio: it is a material record of things you create in the practice of your profession. It contains both primary material, documents produced in the course of teaching; and secondary material, documents produced in reflection upon teaching. Portfolios generally have two major goals: your development as a college-level teacher, and your employment or promotion as a faculty member. Creating portfolios allows teachers to think seriously about their teaching goals and strategies, and to present those thoughts in a cohesive manner to others.
Creating a reflective portfolio allows you to ask sensible questions about your methods, goals, and expectations. Reflecting on these things allows you to develop your courses further, to figure out and fix mistakes, to better connect your teaching interests with your research interests, and to provide some structure for conversations about teaching among your peers and mentors. A collection of teaching artifacts and relevant reflections shows the connections between your intentions, strategies, and success as a teacher.
A teaching portfolio demonstrates teaching achievements in an organized and convincing way. Therefore, portfolios are used increasingly by as a basis for decisions hiring, retention, promotion, merit increases, and awards. It is second nature for you to document your articles, conference papers, and research awards on a C.V. With only slight changes in your regular pattern of documentation, it will become second nature to document your teaching and reflections on teaching as well.
Discuss your ideas about teaching: your beliefs about good teaching, how you have tried to accomplish your objectives, how they have changed, and how good you are by these criteria. This is perhaps the one item which is universally expected in a teaching portfolio.
Some questions to ask may be:
To begin drafting a statement of teaching philosophy, try jotting down some ideas (or write a brief statement) about your teaching ideas. Explain the goals, behaviors, strategies, and processes that are most important for you, as a teacher, to consider when creating and implementing a course. Define how these core values are conveyed through your teaching.
A teaching portfolio can be kept in a loose-leaf binder for flexibility. Teaching is dynamic, and reflection on teaching makes it even more dynamic, so you can expect your portfolio to grow and change over time. Moreover, you'll want to be able to take your portfolio apart and put it together in different configurations for jobs, grants, or awards you might apply for. For your own purposes, consider keeping a table of contents, and be sure to provide one whenever you submit your portfolio with an application.
Each portfolio is unique - the content varies from discipline to discipline, person to person and changes over time - however, there are common elements. Most portfolio entries are reflective, whether they reflect on the primary documents of teaching or reflect on larger concerns. At the minimum, entries should include:
This model includes documents, reflections, letters - solicited and unsolicited, a comprehensive record of courses (e.g., syllabus, ads, lecture notes, materials, student ratings), and student work. The flexibility of this model allows you to choose different pieces to include when addressing a specific job or grant application. Everything must be labeled and should be divided with tabs.
A 6-8 page narrative (with empirical evidence in appendix) in which you show change over time in a particular content area or philosophical approach.
An in-depth exploration of one aspect of your teaching (e.g., integrating multiculturalism into your curriculum, developing a capstone course for majors in your discipline, your various uses of writing - formal and informal). While this portfolio may include the same variety of materials as Model I, it is focused on one primary issue.