Elevating Portfolio Practices to Honour Multilingual Learner Identities

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

I recently wrote about shifting our mindsets towards ‘honouring all languages’ in our learning spaces and communities. As with much that is connected to mindset this can be viewed on a continuum. Sometimes it requires small tweaks and finding ways to elevate current practices, other times it can result in a re-evaluation of pedagogy or practice.

In this post I want to hone in on a practice that is common in many international schools, that of learners collating a portfolio of learning over the course of an academic year. Or, even better, stretching beyond a single academic year. When I started out in international teaching over two decades ago this was a bit of a revelation for me. Right from the very beginning I found the value and power that this practice can give to learners and their families as well as to teachers. In fact, it was one of my initial blog posts, The True Value of Student Portfolio Conferencing. It was also a practice that just seemed so obvious and simple I wondered why it was not more widely used and also extended through Secondary School and beyond. I still wonder this…

Exploring portfolio conferencing

If you are new to the concept of Student/Learner Led Portfolios I recommend taking a look at any of the following online resources below to get further insight into the core principles of portfolios of learning.

I have deliberately chosen from a range of resources that are focused on different age groups and developed to fulfil diverse purposes. This reinforces that portfolios are shaped by the community to serve the needs of the learners within it. The beauty of creating portfolios and the conferencing that sits alongside this as part of the process is that these can be adapted, evolve, and change over time. There are so many formats and possibilities to gain inspiration from. The portfolios that your learners develop may look very different yet still be founded in the same overall values and principles.

As we better gain insight into the experience of multilingual learners, and as a result, explore more deeply into how we honour all languages, some questions emerge in relation to portfolio practices.

How we can elevate current portfolio practices to enable all learners to demonstrate what they can do, understand and know across their full linguistic repertoire?
How can learners’ authentic voice be leveraged to enrich the reflective process?

A first step is to look through the lens of multilingual learners at all aspects of the portfolio process. In the diagram below, I explore four points in the portfolio process through which practices can be elevated to ensure that the identities of multilingual learners are affirmed and their voices are celebrated. Ultimately, how these voices can be truly honoured. Click on the icons to read ideas and suggestions of practical strategies and approaches that could be employed.

Let’s collaborate, share and collate ideas, practices and resources to support elevating portfolio practices. Join and add to this shared Padlet board.

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