Your sample materials reflect your approach to teaching and provide examples of how you facilitate your students’ learning in your discipline. Your annotations provide additional context to those materials and, if you have used the materials in a course, can include a reflection on how it went and any changes you might make.
Selecting Sample Materials
As with all components of the teaching portfolio, less is more. You’ll want to include a handful of sample materials that, along with the other elements of the portfolio, exemplify your approach to teaching. In addition, your sample materials serve as concrete evidence of what you write about in your teaching philosophy statement.
You may find it most productive to select sample materials only after drafting your teaching philosophy statement. Once you have a draft, take a look at it:
- What teaching methods, assignments, etc. do you mention? Do you have sample materials that provide examples of these?
- If you don’t have teaching experience yet, what sample materials could you create based on your draft teaching philosophy statement? Can you seek out an opportunity to guest lecture and include some elements of your teaching philosophy (active learning? multimedia? group work?) in that lesson plan?
As an alternative, you can start by thinking of the sample materials that best showcase your approach to teaching:
- If you have taught before, which assignments or activities went particularly well?
- If you don’t have sample materials, what are some assignments or activities you think would be effective in the classroom?
- Were there activities you experienced as a student that helped you learn?
Finally, you can look at job announcements in your discipline to see the type of teaching those jobs call for, and use that to help you decide which sample materials to include. For example, if the job description mentions hybrid or online teaching, you can demonstrate your use of discussion boards and online office hours. Or, if experiential learning is emphasized, you can include an example of a service learning project or classroom simulation you’ve used to help students learn.
Annotating Sample Materials
Annotations give you a chance to guide your reader through your sample materials. Assume your reader knows nothing about you, your teaching experience, or your approach to teaching. Depending on how you present your materials, you may want to include one longer reflection to introduce all of your materials, short annotations before each of your sample materials, annotations in the margins, or some combination of the three.
Some information you might want to include in the annotations for each of your course materials:
- The kind of course it was used in.
- A lower level survey course? An upper level course for majors?
- How it fits in with other aspects of the course and with some key learning goals
- Is it a high-stakes essay given at the end of the semester? A low-stakes assignment that gives students the chance to practice a particular skill for the first time? A general prompt for weekly reading responses that you made slight adjustments to throughout the semester?
- Why you chose this particular course material
- Why did you choose it, and not something else, to include in your teaching portfolio? Is it a particularly effective example of how you prepare students for peer review? Or does it demonstrate how you give students a chance to reflect on their own learning in the course?
- How it helped students’ learning.
- Did students perform well? How did they react? What did they struggle with?
- Any changes you might make
- Given your students’ performance and your own reflections, is there anything you would change if you used the material again?
- The University Center for the Advancement of Teaching at the Ohio State University includes a number of examples of longer reflections to introduce the section on sample materials.
- The Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia has some sample portfolios that include annotations to introduce each sample material as well as in the margins of those materials.
- ACT Program graduate Carolyn Twomey includes brief introductions to her sample assignments on her website.