Although the portfolio entries can only capture a small sample of your teaching, they are carefully designed to provide you with a structure that enables you to demonstrate your teaching to best effect. Each entry (except Entry 4) is carefully structured so that it will provide evidence of what your students are doing and learning as a result of your teaching.
As you prepare an entry you will be faced with a number of important choices, such as the particular unit of work that will form the context for your entry. For secondary teachers, there may be a number of classes from which to choose a suitable unit of work for a particular entry. However, each entry must be based on a different unit of work. For primary teachers, while each entry will be based on work with the same class, each entry must also be based on a different unit of work. Each unit of work should cover a period of at least two weeks and no more than one term.
For entries requiring video evidence, there will be choices about the particular segments of the video you choose to include and discuss in your written commentary. For entries based on samples of student work over time, it is advisable to choose students who provide different challenges and opportunities to illustrate the influence of your teaching. This will give you a better chance to show the range of your skills and how you cater for different student characteristics.
Keep in mind that the essence of what assessors will be looking for is evidence of accomplished teaching, as described in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. However, accomplished teaching always brings several standards together seamlessly in each lesson and throughout a unit of work. That is why you are not asked to provide evidence for each standard, standard by standard, in isolation from each other. Rather each portfolio task is designed to give you an opportunity to show how you integrate the standards and provide an authentic example of your teaching over time.
Each entry is therefore based on a 'chunk' of professional practice over time that necessarily brings together evidence of:
- a teacher’s knowledge of his or her students and where they are at in their learning;
- based on this knowledge, how he or she establishes worthwhile and appropriate goals for their students’ learning;
- their knowledge of the content and how to help students learn it;
- how they select and implement appropriate learning activities and resources;
- how they assess student progress and provide useful feedback; and
- how they evaluate and reflect on their teaching and set new learning goals for their students.
Accomplished teachers ensure clear links among and between all these stages in planning and teaching a unit of work. This is the 'deep' structure of accomplished teaching for which assessors will be trained to look.
Assessors will be carefully trained to recognise and minimise potential sources of bias. As they read each initiative, assessors will have been trained to ask themselves constantly,'“Even though this may not be the approach I would have used, nevertheless, does the initiative provide clear evidence that the teacher has met the standards and provided quality opportunities for students to learn?'