Every teacher, from the newly licensed to those with years of experience, should have a teaching portfolio. It summarizes your career and achievements in ways that go far beyond a resume. But this valuable tool isn’t just for those who are actively job-searching. Here’s why and how to create and maintain your own, plus lots of helpful teaching portfolio examples for inspiration.
What is a teaching portfolio?
A teaching portfolio is a tool that highlights your strengths as an educational professional. It can be a binder of paper-based materials, neatly organized and presented. Or, as is increasingly more popular these days, it can be digital, including videos and other multimedia elements. Most teachers use portfolios when they’re interviewing for a new position as a way to demonstrate their abilities and achievements.
Why should you create a teaching portfolio?
If you’re actively searching for a new job, you probably already have a portfolio on hand. You can take it with you to interviews to show real examples of yourself in action—lesson plans, pictures and video, notes from kids and parents, and more. These can all help potential employers get a more thorough picture of you as a candidate.
But even teachers who aren’t currently job-searching should keep their teaching portfolio up-to-date. By documenting your professional development, you can show you’ve met the criteria for a promotion or other opportunity for advancement. Plus, it pays to be prepared. Creating and updating a teaching portfolio takes time, and it’s much easier to add to yours a little bit at a time than to build a brand-new one from scratch if you’re suddenly facing the job market again.
More than that, though, updating a portfolio gives you a chance to reflect on your achievements and identify opportunities for improvement. You get a chance to look over your entire journey as an educational professional and celebrate your successes. This can be a real benefit during those times when being an educator is a little more challenging than you bargained for.
What does a strong teaching portfolio include?
Every teaching portfolio is different. The goal is to show your experience from many angles, and highlight your achievements. Try to include quality real-life examples to prove the points you want to make about yourself as an educator. Here are some common elements to consider:
Philosophy of Education
Each teacher should give some thought to the question “What is your teaching philosophy?” Include it at the beginning of your portfolio, and ensure the examples you provide throughout support that philosophy. See 30 Philosophy of Education examples here to get you started.
This is similar to a resume but can provide much more detail. This is the place to show the subjects, grades, and ages you’ve taught, with lists of topics and material you covered. Be sure to highlight any courses you built from scratch, plus any significant professional development you’ve completed.
Here’s the place to include a few particularly strong lesson plan examples and samples of materials like worksheets you personally created. For digital portfolios, include a few well-chosen videos of you in action in the classroom.
While you don’t want to stuff your portfolio full of endless student projects and materials, you should choose some representative samples that you’re particularly proud of. Include some work that shows how you provide feedback to help students improve, such as proposed edits on essay drafts or notes on incorrect answers.
Evaluations and Communications
This section is the place for positive communications like thank-you notes from parents and students, as well as statements from colleagues or supervisors about your achievements. Include student evaluations, as well as any documentation you have showing student progress under your instruction.
Have you published articles in a journal or written a textbook? Do you have a thriving TeachersPayTeachers store or a blog with thousands of followers? Show off your influence in this section of your portfolio. Plus, list any awards, honors, speaking engagements, committees, and other ways you’ve been recognized for excellence.
How do I choose materials for my portfolio?
When you start putting together your teaching portfolio, keep in mind that the goal is to provide evidence of your teaching experience from a wide range of sources. As you gather and organize material for your portfolio, you’ll get a better sense of what you want to include. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Be honest: When you’re putting together your teaching portfolio, you don’t want to exaggerate your experience or qualifications. You don’t need to look perfect! Your portfolio should be an accurate and fair representation of your teaching career. Tell the world all about your successes, but don’t omit the losses. Instead, focus on how you’ve learned from negative experiences.
- Choose wisely: Include materials that show the many aspects of your teaching. Be selective and put some real thought into this. It’s much better to have a strong set of well-chosen materials than a large collection of documents that are unfiltered and overwhelming to the reader.
- Get organized: Your teaching portfolio should have a clear structure that makes it easy for readers to find what they want to review. Include a table of contents and headers to keep everything in order.
Teaching Portfolio Examples
Still not sure how to start, or looking for new ideas? Check out these top-notch teaching portfolio examples from real educators. Each has its own style and reflects the personality of its creator. You’re sure to find some inspiration!
Personal Website Portfolio
This digital portfolio has a clean presentation with simple navigation. The professional appearance really helps to sell this person as a potential hire. With strong examples, lesson plan samples, and videos, this teacher presents herself in the best possible light.
Learn more: Gretchen Seibel
Traditional Teacher Portfolio
If you’re looking for examples of a traditional teaching portfolio, this one is organized in a binder with lots of pictures and samples of work. We love the “A Peek Into My Classroom” section, which shows various areas like learning centers, seating setups, and more.
One caveat: This teacher includes an “About Me” page with information about their religion and family status. We don’t advise including that sort of information in your own portfolio, as this can potentially lead to illegal discrimination in hiring practices. Keep your portfolio focused on your career, and let your personality show through your achievements and examples.
Learn more: Sharing Kindergarten
Google Sites Portfolio
Digital portfolios should be well organized and make it easy for people to learn more about you. Share the link on your resume or cover letter, and bring a tablet or laptop with you to interviews so you can show it off there too. Primary Paradise has tons of great tips for creating a quality portfolio using Google Sites, a free and easy hosting option.
Learn more: Primary Paradise
Free Editable Portfolio
Finding a template that you can customize to your liking can save so much time. This template from Teach Starter is free! It also includes sections on behavior management, parent communication, assessment and tracking, and teacher collaboration. This example has lots of in-depth sections, and you can choose the ones you want to include.
Learn more: Teach Starter
Portfolio Templates for Elementary
This completely customizable template is available for purchase on TpT. Reviewers note that it helped them create and organize their own stand-out portfolios. Just remember to make sure your own personality and achievements really show, regardless of the template.
Learn more: The Lemonade Stand Teacher
Digital Professional Teaching Portfolio
This digital portfolio example includes an array of subjects, helping to show this teacher’s diverse experience. Lots of quality images help illustrate her achievements.
Learn more: Megan Carnaghi
Art Teacher Portfolio
This art teacher portfolio would also work for other “special” teachers, like those who teach music, physical education, and more.
Print Student Teacher Portfolio
In this video, a teacher who was newly hired into her first role shows off the portfolio that landed her the job. If you’re just finishing up your student-teaching experience, this example is for you.
Digital Student-Teacher Portfolio
Check out this example of a digital portfolio for a student teacher looking for their first job. This example highlights a teaching philosophy, student work, classroom management, reference letters, and more.
Learn more: Cassandra Burke Teaching Portfolio
When you’re using your portfolio during an interview to help illustrate a point, you don’t want to be fumbling through the pages to find what you need. The colorful tabs in this binder make it a lot easier to navigate. Be sure you know your portfolio’s contents inside and out, so you can refer to it easily and naturally.
Learn more: Luckey Frog Learning
Substitute Teacher Portfolio
Not looking for a full-time position? Or are you looking to transition from part-time to something more permanent? This teaching portfolio created by Sarah Cheesman might be perfect for you! Not only does it cover substitute teaching work, it highlights other related professional experiences as well.
Learn more: Sarah Cheesman
Hybrid Teaching Portfolio
This traditional-style portfolio has been digitized into a PDF, so it can be accessed from anywhere. It’s extremely comprehensive, with lots of valuable information for potential hiring schools to consider.
Learn more: Holly Factora’s Portfolio
World Language Teacher Portfolio
If you teach a world language or specialty class, this example may be more helpful to you. This Spanish teacher included comments from students and information on engaging class activities.
Learn more: Tyson Hazard, Spanish Instructor
In this YouTube video, a third-year teacher reviews what she included in her portfolio when she was searching for her first job. Throughout the video, get tips on revisiting and updating your teaching portfolio.
Experienced Teacher Portfolio
In this video, a teacher with several years of experience shows off her detailed portfolio. An awesome feature in this portfolio is the use of a QR code to link to a digital website or portfolio!