Your Professional Portfolio: Part One

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Your Professional Portfolio: Part One

Part One of Your Portfolio: Who I Am, What I Believe, and How I Teach

1. Professional Statement

My beliefs, values, and approaches to teaching.

A professional statement is a declaration of your teaching philosophy. It is an opportunity to describe your approach to teaching, how you view your educational practice, and how you have developed as a professional.

Part One: Professional Statement

Write a paragraph for each of the items below.

  • What I Believe
  • Why I Teach
  • What I Teach
  • How I Teach

Part Two: Reflection

Please write at least one paragraph each to respond to the following questions:

  • The poet, Rumi, once said, "Wherever you are is the entry point." Where are you now in your teaching practice? Where would you like to be? How will you get from here to there?
  • What do you want to keep in your teaching practice and what do you want to throw away. Why?
  • What are the challenges that lie ahead?


I am educating young people:

  • To help instill within them a sense of appreciation and wonder for our world
  • To help them become caring parents, spouses, and community members
  • To help them become co-creators in building lasting relationships and    communities
  • To help them become responsible citizens, and creative, independent thinkers

I teach because I am a thrill-seeker. Not the bungee-jumping, ostentatious kind of thrill-seeker. I'm more of the strong, silent, vicarious type. I get an indescribably charge when an idea emerges in class discussions that transforms my students - and me - to a higher level of consciousness. I get ecstatic when conversation catches on like brush fire and students can't wait to express their ideas, when a student rushes up to me on the walkway just to say, "Can you believe what happened to Casey! [a character from our novel]" or another student stays behind after class because she can't wait to read to me what she had written last night.

I am more than excited; I stand in awe when the classroom is full of absolute silence because an idea or feeling so profound has entered our space that we need to make room for it, feel its presence, honor it, and take it into ourselves to be transformed.

I get to behold such moments.  This is why I teach.

"This book is about awakening," says one student quite suddenly amidst our class discussion.  His voice emerges.  This was his moment of "seeing."

Other students, sparked by his comment, stretch from their own slumber, and are propelled from one plane of thought to another; others remain unaffected by his idea, but now vigorously search their own thoughts.  Either way, the conversation has been irreversibly catapulted to a new level  - a deeper level of understanding.  This is why I teach.

I teach because I love people.  We have the capacity to wonder, to examine, to appreciate.  We can be moved by a single phrase of music or a particular collection of words.  We have a need to express and to create. 

I teach to be able to witness, contribute to, and stand in awe of personal and communal transformation - intellectually and emotionally, spiritually and aesthetically.  Sometimes I act as catalyst (asking the right questions), other times as farmer (planting a seed), mostly through giving the right kind of energy and enthusiasm, and creating the right kind of environment so that awakenings can occur.  Sometimes it's me.  Sometimes it's the students.  And sometimes…it's an act of grace.

I teach by creating a community and an environment where each student feels comfortable finding and expressing his or her own "voice."  I do this by insisting that students give full attention and respect to one another.  By example and gentle prodding, I help students learn how to listen to each other.   Once a student can feel assured that he or she will be heard, it follows quite naturally that a student will speak because the environment is safe, comfortable, and ready to receive his or her voice.

In music, it's the silence, the spaces between the notes, that creates the melody. The silence is what sustains the substance.  In many ways, I see myself as "the silence" that underlies the melody and rhythm of a classroom.  I let the students do most of the talking, and I plant the seeds - asking a pertinent question or making a thought-provoking comment at the right time.

My teaching is subtle, like the Indian women versed in the art of love as described in the novel, A River Sutra: 

We could only educate by hint, by hide-and-seek, by nuance, always struggling to make of our knowledge something as light and transparent as a soap bubble, keeping it suspended in the air as its colors were admired until our students grasped its fragility.

Supplementary Resources

Writing a Teaching Statement (from the University of Washington):

2. Inside My Room or Outside My Window

We all want to know what goes on inside classrooms. We also want to know about the area surrounding the classroom. We all want to know about people and places. The public who will be viewing your portfolio want to know who you are and where you are. They will want to know what the conditions are, what it feels like to teach there, what challenges and what opportunities you face every day.

NOTE:  There is one important rule that all Certificate of Teaching Mastery students must abide by.  Do not take a picture of your students unless you are absolutely certain that the parents of your students agree that the photograph can be made available in your portfolio and also, potentially, on the Internet, if you also choose to develop an e-Portfolio.

Take a photograph of your classroom (again, the students can be included only if you have approval from their parents and/or the head of the school). The photograph can be of an empty classroom. Describe the photograph in one paragraph. If you are comfortable provide a link to your personal gallery so that we can see more pictures!



This picture is not of my students or of my classroom; instead, it is a picture of my fellow teachers here in Village Chakwal, outside of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. I love my colleagues because they support me in what I do.  We are always trying to become better teachers.  I work for PODA:  Potohar Organization for Development Assistance. We support women and men in the teaching field and in livelihoods. Our group works with crafts so that women can earn money to help support their families.  When I want to show a picture of where I am from and my classroom life, these wonderful women come to my mind. - Sameena Nazir

3. My Imagined Classroom, Ten Years From Now

For some of you, the world is changing rapidly.  For others, your students' classroom experience is similar to what you experienced when you were their age. Life in your classroom ten years form now may, in fact, be exactly like your current students' experience. Think ten years ahead ... What will life be like for the students in your classroom ten years from now? Perhaps you will be teaching, perhaps not. Think about the students who will occupy those seats. 

Describe your students' day through their eyes from the moment they wake up until they go to sleep (including, of course, time spent at school and, specifically, in your class).

What is different or what is the same about life in your classroom ten years from now? Please describe why you feel this way.


When I was my students' age, my teacher entered the room and we all stood up. Here in my village, the teacher was the master, the authority, the leader. We never disagreed. We were not allowed to complain. Snow blowing horizontally would whisk through the broken windows, where we shivered … stamping our feat to stay warm, two to a seat. At night, we would be issued candles so that we could study at our desks. A coal stove with a pipe punched through the wall would glow in the left-hand corner at the front, and only the older students would be allowed to sit closest to its warmth.

When I started teaching fifteen years ago, the classroom was the same. In the last decade or so, much has happened. Our electricity has become stronger. In the summer, fans move the air around;  in the winter, the snow has been kept from the room by windows and shades, and the room is warmer. 

However, we are still asked to have our students memorize our textbooks. We are still blindly obedient to our teachers, never questioning their facts, their theories, or their assignments. I wish my students could pursue ideas on their own and have enough money to pay for the hourly rate at the cyber-café, like me, where I can gain access to the world. 

For me, so much of what life will be like, ten years from now, is a function of what the policy-makers decide is a priority. Education? Hotels? Business? I hope it is the first choice - education, and I hope that such an education will be free, creative, and interesting.

4. My Students' Work

This section is about documenting your students' work. The Department of Education in Queensland states this quite elegantly: Student work should be a reflection of:

  • Knowing and Understanding
  • Inquiring
  • Responding
  • Reflecting.

In your response, list the grade level and subject. Then, describe the lesson so that viewers of your portfolio will understand the setting of your student work. Take a picture of student work that demonstrates one or more of the four criteria listed above. Describe how student work reflects those four characteristics of knowing and understanding, inquiring, responding, and reflecting.

5. Feedback From Students

Your students' work and their process of learning.

Gather evidence of your students' work, share it, and describe it in detail. Show one example of how you have incorporated new teaching techniques or design into your regular teaching practice.

Ohio State University ( has done a great deal of groundbreaking work in the field of student feedback that can support teacher professional development. "Your students are the most obvious source of feedback on your instruction. Research has shown that students provide valuable information about your teaching if the questions are structured in a useful way."

The University of Sydney ( in Australia has developed an elegant method of gathering student feedback. Originally designed for the college level, this simple set of questions can be adapted for any grade level. This strategy can also be adapted to different modalities and purposes. These questions usually provide a manageable amount of feedback without taxing student or staff resources unnecessarily.

The questions might be written on the board, on an overhead transparency, or they may be provided as an a questionnaire. The questions you choose to ask will be determined by what you want to gather feedback on. However, they are typically along the lines of the following:

  • What was the most useful thing you learned today?
  • What was the best thing about today's class?
  • How could I change my teaching to help students to learn more from this class?

In some cases it might be appropriate to ask very specific questions such as:

  • Which of the activities was most helpful in preparing for today's class?
  • How did today's learning tasks help you understand the concept of...?

In larger classes the time required to read written responses from every student can be a barrier to using this technique. In such cases sampling procedures can be helpful. There are many ways to select a random sample of students. One simple technique is:

"Please pass these questionnaires along the row, could every fifth person take one and fill out the questionnaire. In a few minutes I'll ask you to pass your questionnaire back along the row to the end so I can collect them. While those people are filling out the questionnaire would the rest of you...."

Other techniques used include selection based on sub-groups in the class. For example:

"All those in a Tuesday tutorial group...."

If sampling is used then the usual caveats apply in that there is only a probability that the results of your sample are representative of the whole population.

An alternative to sampling in larger classes is to divide the class into groups of 5-10 students and collect the collated responses to the questions from each group of students after the individual students have contributed to a group discussion.

"I want you each to write down your answers to these three questions. In a few minutes, I will ask you to discuss your answers in your groups. Once everybody has had their say I'd like one person in each group to write down their group's response to each question."

This technique is useful as it ensures discussion and some degree of consensus amongst the students before they respond. At the same time it streamlines the amount of feedback that the teacher has to read. In some settings, this technique can be equally well adapted to verbal presentation of group responses.[1]

6. Feedback From Non-Students

You not only teach children, you teach the family. What kind of outreach do you make to the families you serve?

Also, your colleagues and community are an important - and often neglected - source of feedback to learn how to become a more effective teacher.

Please summarize or provide evidence for the following: 

  • Written feedback from a classroom observation that details judgment on teaching.
  • Written feedback about your course materials such as handouts, exams, and syllabi.
  • Written documentation that details teaching contribution to your colleagues or school.
  • Written feedback from a classroom observation that details strengths as well as areas for improvement.
  • Written summary that details the teaching improvement work that you did after you have received feedback.

Be reflective: Even if you follow the feedback from the above documents, it is not likely to be effective without your own reflection - write a paragraph that describes your interpretation of the evaluations and how you have used the feedback to change or enhance your instruction or course design. The following questions are designed to help you think about how student feedback has influenced you as a teacher:

  • At what point during the teaching period do you collect feedback?
  • How often do you collect feedback?
  • For what purposes do you collect feedback?
  • How have you integrated this feedback into your teaching?
  • What would you still like to improve?
  • What will you continue to do?

[2]Course Five: Professional Portfolio and Millennium Development Goals

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource. fred. (2008, June 13). Education for the New Millennium. Retrieved May 04, 2010, from TWB Courseware Web site. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.