Link to the entire portfolio section.

Every student teacher will prepare a PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO as part of the student teaching experience. 

There are actually several types of portfolios - you may be familiar with portfolios kept by artists where they keep samples of their work.  In recent years, students in K-12 schools have kept portfolio of their work.  This has been an excellent tool to show students progress they are making.  For example, I know of a school district which collects samples of different kinds of writing done by students each year - students and teachers select the best representative sample of each genre of writing each year and these samples are placed into a portfolio.  The portfolio gets passed on to the next teacher, who then adds additional samples.  When the students graduates from High School, s/he receives the portfolio of written work from grades 1 through 12.


In our case, we are looking at a portfolio - a goal driven presentation of your professional growth and development; it is where you attempt to show your competence in the field of education through a wide variety of documentation.

  • WORKING PORTFOLIO - Your working portfolio will contain much more information and is larger and basically contains all of the information that you may include in a presentation portfolio. For example, it might contain several COMPLETE units (whereas you presentation portfolio might only contain one unit or a part of a unit).
  • PRESENTATION PORTFOLIO - this is the portfolio that you take with you to an interview and contains material specific to the interview. I have attended several workshops on curriculum development with Betty E. Steffy, Clinical Professor of Educational Leadership in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She always used a phrase, "mean and lean" when talking about curriculum development - this applies to portfolio development; you will find that with your presentation portfolio, often less is more.

Your portfolio, whether working or professional, contains some basic information, including but not limited to some of the following:

  • background information such as career objectives and goals
  • Professional development activities such as education, licenses, certifications, work history, military service, workshops attended, presentations given
  • Professional leadership, committee involvement and community service activities
  • Honors, awards, grants, and scholarships
  • Research and student activities
  • Archive documents and scanned images

Your portfolio can be prepared in hard copy format by placing the material into a binder or it can be prepared electronically.  The latter can be done using a web authoring tool; instead of linking to outside internet sources, the links go to various sections in your electronic portfolio.  Since many students have e-mail accounts, you might want to check with your ISP to see if it will host your web pages; if the ISP provides this service, you can then put your portfolio on-line.  Additionally, there are commercial companies that enable you to post your portfolio on the web; they charge a small fee and provide technical assistance.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach; some of these include"

  Hard Copy Portfolio Electronic Portfolio
  • relatively easy to develop and maintain although it tends to waste a lot of paper as you continue to change the portfolio
  • most people are familiar with the hard copy format and probably find it easier to set up
  • allows you to add a variety of links that make the portfolio more "viewable" - for example, you can add small video clips of some of your classes to demonstrate your competence in teaching
  • very easy to duplicate and share with potential employers
  • copies can be left with your potential employer
  • it allows you to demonstrate your technology competence - a skill valued by many school districts
  • sometimes your potential employer will want to see the portfolio ahead of time - if the school district of interest is located a distance away, it is not easy to always ship the portfolio.
  • if a student is looking at several jobs and some of these would like to see the portfolio ahead of time, multiple sets are needed.
  • takes a bit more time to prepare if the student is not familiar with electronic media
  • some employers are not computer savvy or prefer to look at material in a binder
  • if you are being interviewed by several people at once, an electronic portfolio can be difficult to "share" at the interview table

When you submit an application, be sure to carefully read the requirements that have been established by the school district for which you are applying.  For example, some will direct you to have current letters of reference sent directly  to them while others will ask you to provide these letters.

If you are enrolled in a licensure program at the University, as part of your degree completion requirement, you will be asked to present a portfolio.  The School of Education and Human Development has prepared a Portfolio Evidence Worksheet that you should download and review.  Material for this section would be placed in the section dealing with lesson planning or something similar.

The SEHD is requiring the completion of an electronic portfolio at this time.  The  portfolios are created using Google Sites. We have created some directions to get your started.

Generally, you bring your portfolio with you to the interview and have it available fo ruse during the process.  For example, if you are asked about how you would address exceptionalities in your instruction, you would explain how you do that and you could then add, "In my portfolio, I have included a sample  lesson plan that clearly demonstrates the approach to inclusion that I have just discussed - I would like to share that with you."  You could then show the section of the portfolio that applies to the question to the interviewer.

You may be interested in National Board Certification - if so, you will find that the professional portfolio can form the foundation of your portfolio for this process.

Let's now look at how to actually go about preparing a portfolio.


H. Jurgen Combs
updated on Tuesday, April 05, 2016