Creating a Teaching Portfolio: Is It Worthwhile?
Toni Wegner, Department of Psychology
With my teaching portfolio neatly in hand, it's easy to say I'm glad I have one. It consists of a 6-8 page reflective statement, with appendices as documentation. Although a teaching portfolio is never complete, I have a usable document that I can maintain and modify for different occasions. Here are some thoughts about my experiences for those who are trying to decide if they should do one.
How much work was it?
I attended the teaching portfolio workshop held by the Teaching Resource Center (TRC) in June. Two group meetings and two individual meetings with a designated "mentor" were scheduled, and we were given some readings and a worksheet to complete before we met.
The group meetings were informative and enjoyable. It was enlightening to interact with instructors across the University who are dedicated to teaching. I gained teaching tips, insights and enthusiasm that are sure to benefit my teaching. The individual meetings with my mentor were helpful and interesting. She provided many ideas and encouragement.
The hardest part for me was the first draft. I struggled for many hours deciding how to put together all of the pieces into a statement that would say something about me. Start to finish, I spent 30-35 hours over about a week.
What did I get out of it?
I participated because I was curious about the process and I thought it might improve my teaching. Creating the portfolio helped make salient what's important to me and why I teach the way I do. I realized that I focus on the things I do well and avoid those I don't. Awareness of these aspects of my teaching will help me be a better teacher.
There is also the product. My teaching portfolio is a statement that describes me as a teacher. It includes my responsibilities, philosophy and strategies, as well as an assessment of my teaching effectiveness. It helped me pull all of the pieces of my teaching into a single document. I believe this could be an excellent tool for anyone applying for a teaching position or being evaluated for promotion or tenure. Although the self-evaluation aspects alone are beneficial, review at higher levels could provide important feedback. There is a potential drawback if this is not supported or encouraged throughout the administration.
Was It Worthwhile?
This was definitely a worthwhile experience for me, and I strongly recommend it for anyone who cares about teaching. The seminar was a great way to do this (because, like my students, I work best with deadlines), but a good mentor can get you there without the seminar.
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