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Professional Development


Defining the Professional Development Teaching Portfolio

Just as every person is idiosyncratic, every portfolio is personal and thus also idiosyncratic—there is no one successful recipe.
—Nona P. Lyons and Carol Gilligan

The use of portfolios reflects a constructivist paradigm: constructivism, the self-construction of knowledge within a social context (Vygotsky 1978) embraces active student learning, fosters a sense of community and views ongoing assessment as part of the (lifelong) learning process.

Developing the Professional Development Portfolio: Workshop Objectives
  • To define a professional development teacher portfolio
  • To highlight its purposes
  • To describe its development, contents and organization
  • To demonstrate its use within an interview process
  • To describe future implications for its use as a professional growth tool throughout a teaching career
Defining the Professional Development Teaching Portfolio

Teacher portfolios have found their niche in various educational milieus for the past two decades. Before embarking on a portfolio-building journey, the teacher must look at what it means to construct a portfolio, the relevance of maintaining it and the professional road it ultimately maps. Although teacher portfolios initially were created to secure employment, they are now used to reflect, showcase achievements and forecast professional growth. For their success, the teacher must address the motives and driving forces behind their creation, paramount to their professional career. Here are three definitions of a portfolio:

“Portfolios allow us to combine actual artifacts of teaching with a teacher’s reflections, enabling us to look beneath the surface of the performance itself and examine the decisions that shaped a teacher’s actions” (Stone 1998).

“A teaching portfolio is defined as a structured collection of teacher and student work across diverse contexts over time, framed by reflection and enriched through collaboration, that has as its ultimate aim the advancement of teacher and student learning” (Wolf and Dietz 1998).

Portfolios make learning visible (Yancey and Cambridge 2001).

Ruban’s definition of a professional development teacher portfolio

“Portfolios are a marriage between science and art: the science of synthesizing and evaluating the artifacts coupled with effectively illustrating the art of teaching through deep reflection and learning. While [a portfolio] is used as a vehicle in which to showcase one’s strengths, achievements, philosophy and growth over time, the criteria for success weigh heavily on the ability to reflect deeply on one’s practice and being authentic in the portrayal of one’s true self.”