Reflective practice is aided by the use of a professional portfolio. Your teaching portfolio records your development as a teacher; it can demonstrate both the evolution of your teaching philosophy and the ways you apply that philosophy in your classroom practice.

Your teaching portfolio can serve multiple functions:

  • It can track your professional development over time
  • It can document your teaching practice for performance review
  • It can illustrate your teaching approach for potential employers

A complete teaching portfolio has three sections.

Section 1: Background, philosophy, and professional development

  • Professional biography: a short narrative description of your professional history and the major influences on your teaching
  • Teaching philosophy: a description of how you teach and why, the theoretical and philosophical foundations of your approach
  • Information about the place(s) where you have worked, including relevant information about required teaching approach and/or materials
  • Professional development: a list of activities that you have participated in
  • Teaching-oriented professional service

Section 2: Documentation of performance (two or three examples of each)

  • Course or curriculum planning and preparation materials that you have developed
  • Lesson plans, with notes on how students responded to them
  • Classroom activities and materials that you have used, with notes on how you used them and how your students responded to them
  • Assessments and student feedback mechanisms that you have used

Section 3: Evaluations

  • Student evaluations
  • Supervisor reports
  • Letters of support from colleagues or others about your teaching

A teaching portfolio can be a valuable tool for you as a language instructor. The reflective work that goes into producing it will encourage you to clarify for yourself what you are doing and why. It will also help you understand the professional value of teaching.

Your teaching portfolio allows you to present both your language teaching philosophy and the best or most interesting examples of its application in the classroom. Your portfolio should not be a static collection that you develop once and never revise; you should review and update it every year so that it reflects your growth over time as a language teaching professional.

Resources on Teaching Portfolios

Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University. Teaching portfolios.

DePaul University. Teaching portfolios.

Mues, Fran, & Mary Deane Sorcinelli. Preparing a teaching portfolio. The Center for Teaching, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2000.


Some material in this section is drawn from the module “Beyond TA training: Developing a reflective approach to a career in language education” by Celeste Kinginger in Modules for the professional preparation of teaching assistants in foreign languages (Grace Stovall Burkart, Ed.; Center for Applied Linguistics, 1998).