Maintain Student Portfolios

You need to keep students' schoolwork neatly filed and readily accessible in your classroom for a number of extremely important reasons.

First, if you allow yourself to develop the habit of letting schoolwork languish in heaps around the classroom, you'll find it impossible to organize these materials in the future. Second, students love to retrieve their file folders and look at their papers. Third, many parents constantly ask to inspect their children's schoolwork to assess academic progress. Fourth, fellow teachers will appreciate having samples to refer to if any of your students are transferred into their classes. And fifth, teachers use the portfolios to assess academic progress as students matriculate to higher grades.

Creating student portfolios is simple. Ask your school to provide you with at least three plastic milk crates, the kind that hold hanging file folders. Or go to an office-supply store and buy the crates yourself, if necessary. Next, ask your school for three boxes of fifty hanging file folders, or purchase them yourself. Then, before the first day of instruction, get class roll sheets listing all of your students. Label one folder for each student, using plastic folder tabs, and alphabetize the folders; you'll be ready to file your students' schoolwork as soon as it's generated.

Student portfolios are mirrors of career portfolios, which are collections of documents that highlight educational and professional achievements. Career portfolios are used by savvy adults to attain professional positions, gain coveted promotions, or win much-deserved raises.

Certainly, filing papers in student portfolios is a time-consuming, never-ending task, but the rewards are well worth it, because when a parent shows up for a conference or open house demanding to know why Johnny received a D+ in Science, you can quickly pull out Johnny's portfolio and announce triumphantly, “Johnny will now sit with you and explain all of the grades you'll see in his portfolio.” Meanwhile, you'll give every appearance of being a well-prepared, well-organized pro. By the same token, when the mother of Joey, an A student, comes to open house to check on Joey's progress, you can hand his portfolio to his mother and say cheerily, “Joey would love to show you his work.” Once again, you will look like a super-competent, well-organized pro. Keep your students' portfolios current and organized, and your portfolios will keep you looking like a pro all year long and throughout your teaching career.

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