Learning to teach is a process to be engaged in, not merely an end to be achieved; even the best teachers were novices once, and while the very best may not appear to have put much time or effort into perfecting their craft they have in fact committed themselves over several years to the task of teaching effectively. At Gettysburg College we expect candidates to document their growth as they move through the Teacher Education Program and make the transition from student to teacher—or, rather, as they make the transition from student to student-as-teacher. We believe very strongly that teaching requires endless learning and seek to ensure that all of the certified teachers who graduate from Gettysburg College understand the value of continuous professional learning and personal growth as keys to effective teaching practice.
Why Make a Teaching Portfolio?
Why make a portfolio? Outside of the clear value of documenting personal and professional growth, the portfolio can also provide you with a handy, concise picture of your curriculum vita—literally, your life in education. Portfolios provide a basis for comparison between teachers and candidates for teaching positions, offering people not affiliated with our program an opportunity to see how you have been prepared for teaching. The professional portfolio also, in many ways, complements the professional growth and documentation activities that have become ever more prominent in the age of teacher and school accountability. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, for example, which confers the prestigious National Board teaching certificate, also requires candidates to document their growth and accomplishments in a portfolio format. In short, preparation of a portfolio is critically important and exceptionally valuable professional activity, and students are encouraged to put a great deal of thought and effort into preparing their portfolios.
The Professional Portfolio and the Presentation Portfolio
All candidates for certification must document their growth throughout their time in the Teacher Education Program; the accumulated artifacts of that growth, which are mapped to the Five Principles guiding the program, must be entered into the student’s Professional Portfolio. In addition, we encourage students, during the Education Semester as part of Education 476, to produce a Presentation Portfolio as well. While the Professional Portfolio provides space for candidates to document their growth and for the faculty of the Education Department to assess its effectiveness, the Presentation Portfolio offers outsiders a glimpse of your professional qualifications. The presentation portfolio can be especially useful in job searches.
How to Get Started
While artifacts of professional development and growth are to be collected at every point in a student's journey toward teaching—starting even before admission to the Teacher Education Program has been granted—most students will not begin compiling their portfolios until after program admission, which typically comes in the spring of the sophomore year. More information about setting up a portfolio will be shared in early education classes and as program admission is granted.
For more information about the artifacts that should be included in your portfolio, and the curriculum that supports the portfolio itself, download the Department Curriculum and Portfolio Guidelines or speak to your Education Advisor.