A web site for the developing language teacher

Teaching professionals to take stock with the
Cambridge ESOL Teacher Portfolio
- 1

Clare Mitchell Crow, Project Manager, Projects Office, Customer Services
Clare Harrison, Subject Officer, Assessment & Operations Group

What counts most in teaching, experience or qualifications? Increasingly, with the changing demands and opportunities in the profession, what really matters is what teachers do with their knowledge, qualifications and experience, their time in the classroom; to what extent they reflect on professional development, pay attention to the ups and downs of everyday experience and make plans to change their approach.

Cambridge ESOL has developed a new service to provide teachers with the basic tools to help and encourage them to take stock of their careers. The Cambridge ESOL Teacher Portfolio is a web based tool that offers teachers a secure personal space to consolidate and document their teaching career. The benefits of this service are that it offers teachers undertaking or teaching our exams a means to record their qualifications, professional development, reflections on their teaching and work experience.

The introduction of the Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) in 2005 was the catalyst for this development. TKT aims to increase teachers' confidence and enhance their job prospects by focusing on the core teaching knowledge needed by teachers of primary, secondary or adult learners, anywhere in the world. Offering an electronic tool in which candidates are able to document and reflect on their teaching practice, while not forming part of the assessment for TKT, was seen as an ideal supporting feature. Initially the Portfolio has been made available to any teachers who have taken, or are taking, one of the Cambridge ESOL Teaching Awards or exams. During the development phase, however, it became apparent that all teachers could benefit from the use of the service, and the aim is to make the Portfolio more generally available.

Electronic portfolios are currently used on an international scale in a wide variety of educational and vocational contexts. Electronic portfolios may be defined as a collection of authentic and diverse digital artefacts, including demonstrations, resources, reflections and accomplishments that represent an individual’s learning and work over time.

Teacher Portfolios

For a practising or prospective teacher, a portfolio offers a means of storing, organising and sharing materials and information related to their teaching in a way which encourages reflection and professional development. A teacher portfolio can be used to store material a teacher and their learners produce. This could include:

  • the teacher’s statement of their teaching philosophy;
  • a description of their teaching responsibilities and context;
  • class profiles;
  • lesson materials;
  • lesson plans;
  • examples of learners’ work;
  • learners’ feedback;
  • self-reflections on their teaching and/or
  • a list of personal goals for improving teaching and enhancing skills.
Feedback the teacher has been given on their teaching after lesson observations or a record of training courses attended can also form part of a teacher portfolio, as well as official documentation, such as certificates, references and employment records.

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