Teaching practice portfolio - a must or a burden?

Slovakia, ID LLCE2015-239

Pre-service teaching practice offers to trainees first experience with teaching their lessons in real setting, with holding responsibility for planning a good lesson, with maintaining a good rapport with students as well as teachers-colleagues and many other aspects. Since trainees work in the external setting without the presence of their Methodology course trainers, it is often a custom to ask trainees to keep a portfolio with lesson plans or material they used during teaching as well as some reflections on the first teaching experience, so that the trainers could have an idea of how their trainees succeeded “out there”.

There are many elements which can be included in the teaching practice portfolio, however, the biggest benefit has the reflective part which can consist of self-evaluation of the lessons or the whole teaching experience, various case studies, textbook evaluations, or even the use of EPOSTL (European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages) where trainees focus on self-evaluation of their own teaching skills. The question, however, can be raised if trainees are aware of the beneficial effects of these elements or whether they see them as a burden, as a compulsory assignment that just has to be delivered to their trainer afterwards. Reflective teachers can direct their own development in the future but how do teachers realize that reflection is a must? Should they learn it in their pre-service training or will they realize it later? This study examines the perception of reflective parts of teaching practice portfolio by trainees in their early years of teacher training.