Reportback & Resources from Beyond the Blog: Making Your (Digital) Teaching Portfolio

On Friday, April 25th OpenCUNY hosted the 3rd event in the Beyond the Blog series, this time focusing on how to create and share your (digital) teaching portfolio. The event was lead by Julia Jordan, a nationally recognized leader in experiential education with over forty years experience across the educational spectrum. Julia holds the title of professor and founding director of the Faculty Commons: A Center for Teaching, Learning, Scholarship and Service at New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York. Paul King (Architecture) and Gwen Cohen-Brown (Dentistry, Pathology, Pain management) joined Julia to discuss how to put together an effective, comprehensive portfolio. Below you will find some take-away points and resources from the event.

Tips for Writing your Portfolio Content

Paul stressed that, though you’ll need to write about both, one of the first things it is important to do is figure out the difference between your teaching philosophy and your teaching methodology.

If you can start your sentence by saying ‘I believe’, that’s probably your philosophy and if you start with ‘I do this’, it’s probably your method. Sometimes it may be both your philosophy and methodology and this is OK. Our speakers made it clear that though the philosophy and methodology are separate parts of a teaching portfolio, they should reflect each other; what you do in the classroom should be somehow reflected in your philosophy and vice versa.

The teaching philosophy is the hardest to write, so write your methodology first by thinking of what you actually do in the classroom and talking to your students. Next, try to figure out your philosophy by reviewing what you actually practice. You may find that your practice does not match your philosophy. For this reason our speakers suggested you not only think of a teaching portfolio as something you do for a job application, but as a mechanism for thinking about your own pedagogy. They call this a Reflective Teaching Portfolio (resource below). Most good teachers are dissatisfied with their teaching, so always try to look at what they’ve done and where they could do better. Another way to start this process is to write a Haiku about why you teach. This might help to get your thoughts flowing and force you to be concise. You also might try making a list of what you think are the ‘top five things that effective teachers do’ and go from there.

Our speakers also mentioned that getting feedback from peers was important. They suggested that you find somebody that you  feel compatible with and have them read your portfolio — and  let them play the doubting game with it. Never try to make your teaching portfolio all by yourself.

From there you’ll want to think about evidence – how do you prove the statements you make in your teaching portfolio? You will need to include student comments, teaching evaluations, student work, and other documents and media to support your philosophy and methodology.

Tips for Displaying and Sharing Your Portfolio Content

In both your writing and display of content, make sure to have a thread between the sections. When making a digital teaching portfolio you may simply post an uploaded teaching portfolio file as a PDF, but you could also consider using the website in dynamic ways. There are lots of options for how to talk about your teaching online. You could simply have a brief paragraph stating your teaching philosophy, or dedicate a section of a larger site to your teaching, or even create an entire site that constitutes the portfolio. When applying for a job you’ll still need to submit the portfolio as they request it, but you can link to your site for those who want to read more, or who would like to engage with media like audio and video.

Consider having multimedia captures of your teaching in action: instead of a description, you could have videos (if students allow). You may decide that you’d like to have a video or audio recording of your class lecture. With student’s permission you may decide to record a course and post that content. Did you know you can borrow a camera, an audio voice recorder or a laptop from the Grad Center Library/IT Help Desk? Just fill out this form and bring it to the Help Desk on the 2nd floor of the Graduate Center Library.

Other advantages to building and sharing your teaching portfolio online might be the ability to:

*Your university probably has an official form for permission releases.

Aside from just using WordPress to create a public website, it can also be used as a Content Management System (CMS). What this means is, you can use WordPress to organize content, in this case items for your teaching portfolio. This way you can manage and systematize your content and documents without having to make it public right away. You make make your entire site private (info here) or just certain posts, pages, and documents (info here) and share them at your discretion. For example, you could change what is publicly visible depending on what jobs you might be applying for or what audience you are trying to reach. Though a teaching portfolio website does not take the place of a paper hard-copy, it can act as a helpful archive of all the items connected with your pedagogy that is easily accessible and has the potential to be shared at any time.

List of Suggested Resources
Julia provided us with the very generous gift of the following books that are now available to all and can be found in the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development, Room 3300.31.

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Online Resources

SENCER-SALG: “The SENCER Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) allows students to rate how much specific activities in SENCER courses help their learning. The assessment tool also asks students to report on their science skills and interests, as well as the civic activities in which they engage.”

SENCER: Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities

SALG: Student Assessment of their own Learning Gains

Paul King’s Example of a Reflective Teaching Portfolio and some important samples and templates

Flannery Amdahl wrote a post about the event on the GC Career Planning and Professional Development Blog

Documents from the Event

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