Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

It’s true. You don’t need artifacts in order to reflect. You could go sit on the side of a mountain, along a peaceful stream, or in a room somewhere by yourself and ponder life’s complexities. And that’s valuable.

But if you’re a teacher building a digital portfolio, artifacts can help.

And not just any mindless artifacts. Well-thought memories that mean enough to you to be conceived with intention. As the reflective practitioner, you’re not just checking a box of required obigations of you as a professional, but rather, you’re owning your entire portfolio process–from the ground-up.

One thing that concerns me about the portfolio process is just this: I referred to it as “the portfolio process,” when, actually, it’s “a learning process.” In it’s entirety, the process is much broader than just dragging-and-dropping and linking stuff in boxes in an unlisted, semi-published Google Sites. When educators are building a digital, professional portfolio, they’re simply focused on meeting the objective of creating a portfolio. But, hopefully, the focus will eventually transfer to “beginning with the end in mind.”

Like supporting the main idea, details will help educators demonstrate their learning journey and supplement their professional profile. In Part I of this series, I explored the value in capturing meaningful artifacts. After all, before you can post and share your progress, you first need progress. You need to capture the very moments, experiences, and resources that impact you and your practice in meaningful ways.

So, what could educators capture? Or, maybe the real question is:

What’s Portfolio-Worthy?

The possibilities are endless…

In the last few weeks, several educators at my school and beyond asked me questions about capturing portfolio artifacts:

  • Can you show me how to find your Tweets so I can use them in my digital portfolio? I need an artifact to share with my principal as part of my professional development plan.
  • Do you remember what was happening during that teacher observation? I didn’t take any pictures.
  • Does this count as an artifact? Is it good enough? I can’t remember the standard that we were learning.
  • Do you remember what we did in that lesson last year?
  • What did you really learn in that [professional learning] conference session? Have you shared that with anyone?
  • I wish I had a video of that lesson so we could use it again later. Can you record my lesson for me?
  • Where do I find pictures and videos about what’s been happening in our school?

Why Should I Be Archiving My Experiences?

Reflection is powerful.

The better we capture experiences in the moment, the better and more closely we can align our reflections with what actually happened.

I don’t know about you, but by the time I get home at night–and after another 12-hour day at school–I sometimes have a hard time remembering what I had for breakfast that morning. Wait–Did I even have breakfast? What day is it again? It’s very, very true that: “A teacher makes 1,000 decisions a day.”

So, how, then, is an educator expected to recall something that happened yesterday? Last week? Three months ago? At the beginning of the year?

This is exactly why we need to be intentional in capturing our meaningful moments–in the present.

Most teachers don’t have any time to Tweet during the school day because they’re constantly on their feet, interacting face-to-face with students, or enduring necessary meetings and paperwork. No one has time.


How Do You Capture the Portfolio-Worthy Moments?

In the meaningful learning experience moments, take a picture or a short video. That’s it. That’s all. Later, at night or even a week later, Tweet it. Bonus: Hashtag that Tweet with a hashtag that’s meaningful to you so that you can search “@yourhandle #meaningfulhashtag” to quickly find it later, and include it in your portfolio.

One of the biggest misconceptions in education today is that when educators are seen with cell phones in their hands during prime instructional time with students, then that educator is not being present with students. In fact, they may even be perceived as being distracted, careless, negligent, and even unprofessional. And also–that cell phone device is evil.

Yet, when that same educator is seen typing on a laptop to record attendance, log reading benchmarks, or complete report cards during the school day, for example, then the perception is that the educator is on-task, performing educator duties, and even being responsible and ultra-professional in technology use. And also–that laptop is acceptable, official, and studious.

What if you could use your cell phone to capture experiences for future reflections, learning, and potential portfolio artifacts?

In a recent third grade teacher observation, I captured this:

At first glance, you might have seen two students working on desktop computers.

And that’s it.

But here’s what I saw, and…

Here are some reasons why this Tweet could be a meaningful artifact for your portfolio:

  • Learner-Centered
  • Content-Informed
  • Date-Stamped
  • Time-Stamped
  • Location-Tagged
  • School Hashtag-Tagged
  • Standard-Tagged
  • Featuring Differentiation
  • Shareable with Other Grade Level Teachers
  • Featuring Meaningful Technology Integration
  • Preview-able for the Same Lesson the Next Day
  • Transferrable to NC Professional Teaching Standards
  • Easily-Accessed for Teacher Post-Observation Meeting with Administration
  • Quickly accessible when Twitter-searching: “@KyleHamstra @AndreaSquiers6”

Twitter works best for capturing meaningful experiences for my portfolio.

What’s working for you?

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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