Professional portfolios serve as a learning tool and documentation of professional growth. The unique aspect of a portfolio is it delivers a product of a teacher’s current knowledge and daily work. At the same time, the portfolio reflects a learning process. According to Zepeda (2012), “The assessment of teaching is an ongoing process” (p. 264). Throughout the process the teacher collects artifacts, analyzes student work, and reflects on what was learned. This is where the learning takes place. It is not enough to collect the artifacts as a representation of student work or teacher performance. Zepeda (2012) states, “Meanings are derived from the processes of collecting, examining, and reflecting on the contents included in the portfolio” (p. 264). The artifacts should serve as evidence that guides the teacher to make instructional decisions that will increase student learning.
In both my ProTeach course and my course work through SPU, I have built portfolios that reflect my own learning, which hopefully transferred to increased student achievement. With both portfolios, I had the opportunity to build my knowledge of effective teaching strategies. Both portfolios have required me to participate in job-embedded learning which has allowed me to be the researcher. As the researcher, I am reading course texts, publications, and insights from my peers to increase my knowledge of effective practice. I am then able to apply my new learning to my instruction. The learning continues if I take time to reflect on my teaching, collect student data, and make adaptations based on student needs. I appreciate that portfolios show both teacher and student growth over time. It is a way for evaluators to see the daily work of teachers and gives them a clearer picture of the teacher’s professional growth. Zepeda (2012) states, “It is the daily work of teachers that cannot always be measured through formal assessments” (p. 261). When an evaluator only uses student test scores or a few observations to evaluate a teachers’ level of proficiency, there are many standards that may not be accurately portrayed. The portfolio allows the evaluator to see what the teacher has learned and how the learning has been applied to practice.
Zepeda, S. (2012). Professional Development: What Works. New York: Eye on Education