Two Important Document Collections: Your Professional Portfolio and Your Teacher’s Daily Binder

As you begin the school year, you will find that one of the most important tasks you can undertake is to organize two specific types of documents you can quickly access during the year: the documents in your professional portfolio and the documents you will need each day to manage your classroom duties. Here are some time-tested suggestions for efficiently and successfully handling these important professional documents.

Your Professional Portfolio

Creating a professional portfolio serves two purposes. As a tool to showcase your professional expertise to prospective employers, a portfolio can reveal a lot of useful information about you and your teaching experiences. However, as a new teacher you will find that another valuable result of maintaining a professional portfolio is the opportunity it gives you to reflect on your teaching experiences and philosophy.

Although many teachers keep a paper portfolio, it is also easy to maintain a digital one or even a combination of both. Whichever method you choose to use, the key to managing the portfolio process is simple: Plan what you want to include and file that work as soon as you encounter it. A lesson plan here, a survey there, a copy of some of the snapshot observations you’ve done and soon you will have a representative sampling of your work.

Most professional portfolios contain materials that can be grouped into two parts:  evidence or artifacts from your career and your reflections on various aspects of your teaching experiences. Here are some of the items you can include:


  • Formal observations and evaluations
  • Peer observations
  • Student responses to surveys about your class
  • Representative lesson plans—usually a week’s worth
  • Description of classroom management plan
  • A videotape or audio recording of a lesson
  • Photographs of your classroom setup and decor
  • Photographs of students working
  • Committees you’ve served on
  • Extracurricular work and activities
  • Annotated samples of student work
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Awards or honors
  • Evidence from professional development workshops or courses
  • An explanation of your teaching responsibilities


  • Sample pages from a journal recording your reflections on your teaching practice
  • Responses you’ve made when observing other teachers
  • Annotated lesson plans

Your Teacher’s Daily Binder

A daily binder differs from a professional portfolio in that it isn’t just a static collection, but contains the documents you use most often. Putting these documents in a sturdy three-ring binder can make them immediately accessible. Many teachers also divide their binders into easy-to-use sections for various topics such as recording grades and other assessment data, instructional planning, calendars and schedules, student information or classroom tasks.

With just a quick online search of sites such as Pinterest, you can find various ways to organize your teacher’s daily binder. Although you can purchase premade binders and documents online, it is just as efficient to create your own binder using the documents that you need to be able to access quickly. Instead of an expensive purchase, keep in mind that the purpose of a daily binder is just to have the documents you use every day in a convenient place and not stored away in a file cabinet.

Although every teacher’s binder is a very personal set of documents (dependent on the needs of the teacher and the types of courses and students the teacher needs to manage), there are some items that are almost indispensable. Here are some documents that you may find to be useful additions to your daily binder:

  • Class rosters
  • Seating charts
  • Your professional goals
  • Your daily to-do lists
  • Meeting notes
  • A school year calendar
  • An overview of instructional plans for the year, semester, or grading period
  • Unit plans
  • Daily lesson plans
  • A list of frequently used comments and proofreading marks
  • Grading reminders such as due dates or grading scales
  • A copy of Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • A list of Gardner’s multiple intelligences (to help with differentiation)
  • Lists of activities to refer to that will energize your instruction
  • Lists of alternative activities to use just in case a lesson plan is not working well
  • Lists of activities to use at the start and end of class as well as during transitions
  • List of ideas for integrating technology into instruction
  • List of formative assessment ideas
  • List of classroom chores for students to manage