8 Must-Have Items to Include in a Professional Portfolio

8 Must-Have Items to Include in a Professional Portfolio

Author: Lisa Johnson


Oftentimes, we are poor historians of ourselves. Creating and maintaining a professional portfolio provides evidence and examples of all the things we are doing day to day and throughout the year. Building one is the perfect way to present your accomplishments for annual reviews, earning micro-credentials or badges, and for applying to a new job.

Your portfolios is used to communicate with many audiences. A professional portfolio is what you’d use to showcase accomplishments with your current administrator and any future employers. Prepping for those meetings is quick and easy because all pertinent information will be in one place.

Visual provided by Lisa Johnson

1. Professional Development Attended/Completed: I used to keep all of this info in a binder but over the years this has become digital. You may also use a tool like Eduphoria to host this info. It is helpful to keep a running list though (especially to document your professional development and continuing education hours). 

2. Micro-credentials and Awards and Affiliations: If you earned any certifications or digital partnerships, I would include those too (e.g. Apple Teacher, Google Certified, bulbhead, Thinglink expert, PBS Educator, etc.). Work done to attain the distinction can also be created and kept in your bulb digital portfolio. I would include any additional awards and grants.

3. Leadership Positions: Leadership positions don’t just have to be department chair. Consider adding roles like mentoring a new teacher, coaching basketball, leading a book study, piloting a tool or new pedagogy like Project Based Learning. It could also be participation in an application or selection-based cohort or academy. 

4. PD presented or Publications: If you present sessions at your campus, in district or beyond (e.g. conferences, webinars, Twitter chats), I would include these. I would also include publications like a blog, any articles or books you have written. It could be an article that mentioned your classroom.

5. Topics of Focus/Interest: I spent a few months doing this. A wise person once said, “You can do anything but not everything.” My list helps me focus on the topics, pedagogies and strands that I really want to zero in on for the academic year. I use it as a guide when choosing the best books, articles, webinars, Twitter chats, podcasts and conferences. College and Career Readiness Skills, Instructional Design, Visual Literacy, Social Emotional Learning, Productivity and Time Management, and Digital Minimalism are at the top of my list.

6. Books Ready + Reviews/Reflections: Journaling or jotting down notes about books read is great for reflection and useful when preparing for a new year or semester. I also like to list the professional books I’ve ready and keep a running record for reference.

7. Quotes and Endorsements: Words of gratitude typically say more about you than you could yourself, so include quotes from students and staff. Keep them in your bulb. IMPORTANT NOTE- If you plan on using student endorsements publicly, I would suggest wording the attribution as “former student” or “6th grade student” rather than including their actual name. If these are from a staff member or from a session, I don’t think there is an issue with using full names – just ask permission first. If you are taking an online course, you may ask the professor or course admin to share a few words about you as a student as well.

8. Exemplars: Any time I am teaching or leading professional development, I love to take pictures. If I am working with students, then I ask permission to photograph their work. If I am taking photos of students, I typically take it from the back of their heads or blur photos using Skitch as I don’t want to worry about likeness permissions. If you have a lesson that went really well, type up a few notes about the lesson and include a student exemplar. IMPORTANT NOTE – If you plan on sharing student work publicly (rather than just with your administrator or for your own reflection), I would check with your school and your parents on how they would like their student’s work shared online, if at all. Some parents are fine with the work, but not a picture of their student. Others are okay with the work as long as their full name is not listed. I always try to err on the side of caution, and asking permission instead of forgiveness should be the way to go when sharing student work online. 

Your professional portfolio is  evidence of your lifelong learning. As educators we spend so much time creating for others and often, we forget to create, document and archive our own work. Being architects and promoters of our own lifelong learning is powerful and important to your continued growth and success.

Having one will give you better perspective. And when all your information is in one place, it’s easier to reflect and identify trends topics that interest you. 

If this process still seems overwhelming, start building  with information you have or with topics of highest interest. 

Still feeling stuck? Check out some of the resources I’ve curated:

Lisa Johnson works at a 1:1 iPad HS in Austin, Texas. To learn more about these topics and many others, follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Explore the Resource Center for more helpful resources. Or contact us to set up a demo. 

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