teaching for artists


Developing a Teaching Portfolio
What is a teaching portfolio?

A portfolio or dossier is a collection of material that depicts the nature and quality of an individual’s teaching and students’ learning. Portfolios are structured deliberately to reflect particular aspects of teaching and learning—they are not trunks full of teaching artifacts and memorabilia. At its best a portfolio documents an instructor’s approach to teaching, combining specific evidence of instructional strategies, and effectiveness in a way that captures teaching’s intellectual substance and complexity. 

A teaching portfolio is a measure of actions and a reflection on those actions and is broken up into two basic sections: evidence and evaluations. Evidence is proof that you have taught, what you taught, and how you taught it. Evaluations are reflections on this process. You may want to consider creating multiple teaching portfolios for different educational situations. For example, if you teach both studio art and web design, you might want to create two separate teaching portfolios to highlight the strengths you have particular to these fields of study.

How are teaching portfolios used?

As a “product” (for decisions—evaluative, summative):

-to communicate your teaching style and philosophy to a potential employer;

-to communicate your teaching style and philosophy to students, colleagues, and community.

As a “process” (for development – formative, reflective):

-to record your teaching experiences over time;

-to provide themes and evidence for your evaluative portfolio.

What goes into a teaching portfolio?

Cover Letter

Your cover letter should attract your reader’s attention, summarize your accomplishments, and leave him or her wanting to pore over the content of the teaching portfolio. State your purpose in submitting the portfolio up front. List the position(s) you are applying for and let the reader know where she/he can get more information about your teaching history.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

This is different from your artist résumé. Your curriculum vitae is a list of all of your professional accomplishments and is intended for an academic environment.

Teaching Philosophy

This is a rumination on your specific teaching philosophy that details why you teach, and what outcomes you intend to create with your instructions. It doesn’t necessarily discuss the specifics of your classes but instead focuses on why you do what you do. Your philosophy should also detail the techniques and pedagogical approach you use to instruct your students. You will also need to state how you measure your effectiveness as a teacher. As you do with your artist statement, you will need to constantly update your teaching philosophy and put it through many drafts before it is finished. Your teaching philosophy may be a separate section in your teaching portfolio, or it may be incorporated into all of the other sections listed here. Be careful to read requirements for submissions.

The following are areas you may be asked to provide information about and will be part of your teaching philosophy.

Teaching Experience and Responsibilities

After preparing your teaching philosophy you will need to offer supporting evidence of your effectiveness as an instructor. This will be a paragraph-form history of all of your past teaching jobs with descriptions of your specific responsibilities. This can be a list of courses with course descriptions and a brief discussion of the pedagogical strategies you employed for each course. This can also include course syllabi you have written.

Teaching Methods and Strategies

This section details the specific methods and strategies you use to connect with and educate your students. Have you developed an original approach to teaching your subject matter? Do you incorporate original materials or technologies into your lectures? Explain those here.

Efforts to Improve Teaching

Include everything from experiments in pedagogy and methodology to workshops, classes, or seminars you have attended. You can also include any critiques or feedback you have from superiors or mentors that directly comment on your efforts to improve your teaching skills.

Observations and Evaluations

A collection of evaluations from superiors, department heads, faculty advisors, colleagues, or administrative officials who have observed you teaching both in class and out of class.

Teaching Goals

Your teaching goals outline what you plan to accomplish with your classes, in both the short- and long-term. Include academic and relevant personal goals here. This information may be part of your teaching philosophy essay.

Publications on Teaching

Examples of anything you have published relating to teaching or the educational field.

 Awards, Honors, or Other Recognitions

Include copies of all letters of distinction and awards pertaining to your teaching or academic excellence.

Invitations to Speak or Teach

Include a list of places you have been invited to speak, lecture, review portfolios, or teach.

Teaching Video

A representative sample of you teaching in the classroom environment. Choose footage highlighting interesting teaching techniques and interaction with students.

Student Scores on Standardized Test

Make sure to maintain the anonymity of your students when submitting these materials.

Examples of Student Work

Student essays, collaborative work, documentation of artwork created as part of class assignments, and course-related assignments.

Examples of Extracurricular Student Success

If you have helped your students secure employment or get into graduate programs, include that information.

Alumni Testimonials

If your students are alumni of the school you are submitting to, ask them to write a letter about your effectiveness as a teacher. 

Graded work

Include examples of work you have evaluated. Make sure to include a range of work, from excellent to poor, along with your comments and evaluations as to why you assigned those grades.

 How can you begin to work on a teaching portfolio?

Reflect on your teaching individually, and discuss it with others.

Get feedback on your teaching from several sources, including students, peers, supervisors, video, etc.

Reflect on student learning in your field. How do students learn? What challenges do they face?

Keep records of your teaching, feedback you receive, and plans to develop your teaching.

Seek out teaching opportunities.


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You can also get our popular book for artists, Getting Your Sh*t Together: The Ultimate Business Manual for Every Practicing Artist, which includes all of this information and more here.