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Teaching Portfolio Reflective Essay On English Class

Below we offer an example of a thoughtful reflective essay that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI). We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.

Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CI Code of Conduct.

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Sample Reflective Essay #2

Author: Nekisa Mahzad

I have been a student at California State University Channel Islands (CI) for 5 semesters, and over the course of my stay I have grown and learned more that I thought possible. I came to this school from Moorpark Community College already knowing that I wanted to be an English teacher; I had taken numerous English courses and though I knew exactly what I was headed for-was I ever wrong. Going through the English program has taught me so much more than stuff about literature and language, it has taught me how to be me. I have learned here how to write and express myself, how to think for myself, and how to find the answers to the things that I don't know. Most importantly I have learned how important literature and language are.

When I started at CI, I thought I was going to spend the next 3 years reading classics, discussing them and then writing about them. That was what I did in community college English courses, so I didn't think it would be much different here. On the surface, to an outsider, I am sure that this is what it appears that C.I. English majors do. In most all my classes I did read, discuss, and write papers; however, I quickly found out that that there was so much more to it. One specific experience I had while at C.I. really shows how integrated this learning is. Instead of writing a paper for my final project in Perspectives of Multicultural Literature (ENGL 449), I decided with a friend to venture to an Indian reservation and compare it to a book we read by Sherman Alexie. We had a great time and we learned so much more that we ever could have done from writing a paper. The opportunity to do that showed me that there are so many ways that one can learn that are both fun and educational.

The English courses also taught me how powerful the written word and language can be. Words tell so much more than a story. Stories tell about life and the human condition, they bring up the past and people and cultures that are long gone. Literature teaches about the self and the world surrounding the self. From these classes I learned about the world, its people and its history; through literature I learned how we as humans are all related. By writing about what we learn and/or what we believe, we are learning how to express ourselves.

I know that my ability to write and express my ideas, thoughts and knowledge has grown stronger each semester. I have always struggled to put my thoughts on paper in a manner that is coherent and correct according to assignments. I can remember being told numerous times in community college to "organize your thoughts" or "provide more support and examples". These are the things that I have worked on and improved over the past couple of years and I feel that my work shows this. The papers I wrote when I first started here at C.I. were bland and short. In these early papers, I would just restate what we learned in class and what I had found in my research. I did not formulate my own ideas and support them with the works of others. The classes I have taken the past couple semesters have really help me shed that bad habit and write better papers with better ideas. I have learned how to write various styles of papers in different forms and different fields. I feel confident that I could write a paper about most anything and know how to cite and format it properly.

There are a couple of things that I do feel I lack the confidence and skill to perform, and that is what I hope to gain from participating in Capstone. I am scared to teach because I don't know how to share my knowledge with others-students who may have no idea what I am talking about. I hope to learn more about how teachers share their knowledge as part of my Capstone project.

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Careers in English and Writing

The English program at California State University Channel Islands prepares students for a wide range of exciting and rewarding careers, including:

  • English teacher
  • Social media strategist
  • Media production (film, TV, internet)
  • Print and digital publishing
  • Law
  • Corporate communications
  • Foreign service
  • Human resources
  • Foundations/non-profit management

Learn more about CI's English Program

Self-reflection on teaching

Ask yourself: “What are my own perceptions of my teaching?”

It is key to engage systematic reflection on your own teaching. Some easy yet consistent strategies for keeping track of your teaching are to annotate assignments, tests and class plans on an ongoing basis. This will help you keep track of things to keep and/or eliminate when you teach the class again. End-of-term summaries also help you reflect on your teaching and provide excellent fodder for the development of new classes and or improved versions of the same class.

Develop a teaching portfolio

Developing a teaching portfolio provides instructors with a powerful means to document their teaching practices, philosophies, and performances. A living document, the teaching portfolio serves to showcases accomplishments and documents professional goals. Teaching portfolios can also help you reflect on your teaching and examine the development of your teaching over time. Most commonly, the portfolio can be used to represent your teaching to others as you apply for jobs, grants, awards, or promotion and tenure.

Additional resources

UW resources

External links

  • Writing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement, University Center for the Advancement of Teaching, Ohio State University
  • Handbook for Creating Course Portfolios (PDF), Engineering Learning Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Promoting a Culture of Teaching: The Teaching Portfolio (PDF), Center for Teaching and Learning, Stanford University.
  • Teaching Philosophy Statement Examples, University of Michigan
  • The Teaching Portfolio (PDF), Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, Brown University
  • Teaching Portfolios, Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, University of British Columbia


  • Cambridge, B. (Ed.) (2001). Electronic portfolios: Emerging practices in student, faculty, and institutional learning. Washington DC: American Association for Higher Education.
  • Cerbin, W. (2001). “Course portfolios: to preserve and refine good teaching ideas.” The Teaching Professor 15(7).
  • Felder, R. & Brent, R. (1996) “If you’ve got it, flaunt it: Uses and abuses of teaching portfolios,” Chemical Engineering Education, 30(3).
  • Glassick, C. et al. (1997). Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Hutchings, P. (Ed.) (1998). The Course Portfolio: How Faculty Can Examine Their Teaching to Advance Practice and Improve Student Learning. Washington DC: American Association for Higher Education.
  • Lambert, L. et al (Eds.) (1996). University teaching: A guide for graduate students. Bolton, Ma: Anker.
  • Seldin, P. (1997). The Teaching Portfolio: A practical guide to improved performance and promotion/tenure decisions. 2nd ed.

 “Creating a teaching portfolio was a wonderful way for me to reflect on what courses I have taught, methods I have used, and importantly what did and did not work. This allowed me to think critically about how to change future classes for the better. It also reminded me how much I enjoy teaching!”

Sarah Giddings, Research Associate, Oceanography

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