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Developing Your Teaching Portfolio

There are many ways for arranging your materials. One aspect to keep in mind is that you want to compile and format your materials in a way that is accessible and easy to use for exhausted search committee members who will be looking at your and 200 other candidates’ materials at the end of their Fall term. It may be a good idea to include a table of contents and use file dividers.

One way of organizing your teaching portfolio is

  1. Teaching Statement
  2. Past/Upcoming Course Responsibilities
  3. Course/Instructor Evaluations
  4. Examples of Course Materials

If there are particular courses that you would be eager to teach — especially in the area(s) the job ad mentions — but you have not taught those courses, it may be a good idea to include example syllabi that show how you would teach those courses.  A course description and list of weeks with texts are fine for this purpose.

The article below gives some advice on how to develop your teaching statement. It can be found at the teaching center at Ohio State U along with more information on teaching portfolios:

Nancy Chism’s five components of a teaching statement

In her article (Chism, 1998), “Developing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement,” Nancy Chism, former Director of Faculty and TA Development at The Ohio State University, suggests five major components.

1. Conceptualization of learning

Ask yourself such questions as “What do we mean by learning?” and “What happens in a learning situation?” Think of your answers to these questions based on your personal experience. Chism points out that some teachers have tried to express and explain their understanding of learning through the use of metaphor, because drawing comparisons with known entities can stimulate thinking, whether or not the metaphor is actually used in the statement. On the other hand, most instructors tend to take a more direct approach in conceptualizing learning, i.e., to describe what they think occurs during a learning episode, based on their observation and experience or based on current literature on teaching and learning.

2. Conceptualization of teaching

Ask yourself questions such as “What do we mean by teaching?” and “How do I facilitate this process as a teacher?” Chism suggests that personal teaching beliefs on how the instructor facilitates the learning process would be appropriate for this section. Again, the metaphor format can be used, but a common practice is a more direct description of the nature of a teacher with respect to motivating and facilitating learning. Along with the questions above, you may also address such issues as how to challenge students intellectually and support them academically and how the teacher can respond to different learning styles, help students who are frustrated, and accommodate different abilities. Furthermore, you may talk about how you as a teacher have come to these conclusions (e.g., through past experience as a student or teacher, or as a result of literature reading or taking classes).

3. Goals for students

This section should entail the description of what skills the teacher expects her/his students to obtain as the result of learning. You may address such issues as what goals you set for your classes, what the rationale behind them is, what kind of activities you try to implement in class in order to reach these goals, and how the goals have changed over time as you learn more about teaching and learning. For instance, you can describe how you have expected students to learn not only the content, but also skills such as critical thinking, writing, and problem solving, followed by elaboration on how you have designed/planned individual sessions towards accomplishing the goals.

4. Implementation of the philosophy

An important component of the statement of a teaching philosophy should be the illustration of how one’s concepts about teaching and learning and goals for students are transformed into classroom activities. Ask yourself, “How do I operationalize my philosophy of teaching in the classroom?” and “What personal characteristics in myself or my students influence the way in which I approach teaching?” To answer these questions, you may reflect on how you present yourself and course materials, what activities, assignments, and projects you implement in the teaching-learning process, how you interact with students in and outside class, and the consequences.

5. Professional growth plan

It is important for teachers to continue professional growth, and to do so, teachers need to set clear goals and means to accomplish these goals. Think about questions such as “What goals have I set for myself as a teacher?” and “How do I accomplish these goals?” You can elaborate this plan in your statement of teaching philosophy. For instance, you can illustrate how you have professionally grown over the years, what challenges exist at the present, what long-term development goals you have projected, and what you will do to reach these goals. Chism suggests that writing this section can help you think about how your perspectives and actions have changed over time.

In summary, these are the main questions Chism suggests to answer in a statement:

  • How do people learn?
  • How do I facilitate that learning?
  • What goals do I have for my students?
  • Why do I teach the way that I do?
  • What do I do to implement these ideas about teaching and learning in the classroom?
  • Are these things working? Do my student meet the goals?
  • How do I know they are working?
  • What are my future goals for growth as a teacher?


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Last Modified: October 13, 2011