A teaching portfolio is an essential item for all educators. Every student teacher has to create one, and continually update it throughout their career. Whether you just finished college or are a seasoned veteran in the education field, learning how to perfect your teaching portfolio will help you advance in your career.
What is it?
A professional portfolio for educators showcases a collection of the best examples of your work, classroom experiences, skills and achievements. It’s a way to introduce yourself to your prospective employers beyond a resume. While a resume provides information about relevant work experience, a portfolio illustrates these examples of your qualifications. It is a valuable tool to bring to interviews and to track your professional growth.
What to Include
Creating your portfolio is an ongoing process. As you gain more experience, you add or take away items in your portfolio. Making a professional portfolio takes time and experience. Finding and identifying the perfect items to showcase your experience, skills and qualities are essential. The most effective portfolios contain the following items:
- Title page
- Table of contents
- Letters of recommendation
- Students’ work/Assessment
- Research papers
- Professional Development
When searching for these items, collect your most recent examples. Ask yourself, “Which items really display my talent as a teacher?” Look for pieces that showcase your strong leadership skills, and that demonstrate your experience. If you add photos of students make sure you get signed permission to use them. If you are worried that you don’t have enough elements, remember that quality is more important than quantity.
Here are some ideas of the types of artifacts you should be searching for when gathering your elements for your portfolio:
- Philosophy - Educational philosophy, classroom management plan, guideline of your discipline techniques.
- Degrees/Certificates/Awards - Copy of your degree(s), teacher license, awards of honor.
- Photos - Students, you with the students, classroom, bulletin boards, projects.
- Letters of Recommendation - Supervisor, teachers, parents, students, former employer.
- Students’ Work /Assessment - Worksheets, projects, assessment rubrics.
- Planning - Themed units, curriculum, lesson plans, field trips, activities.
- Research Papers - Thesis
- Communication - Welcome letters, progress reports, parent conferences, notes to parents.
- Professional Development - Conferences, Meetings, publications, memberships.
Sorting and Assembling
Once you have gathered all of your artifacts, then it is time to sort through them. An easy way to do this is by arranging them into categories. Use the above bullet list as a guide to help you sort your items. This will help you filter out the old and irrelevant pieces. Depending upon the job requirements, use only the pieces that demonstrate the skills needed for the particular job you are applying for.Supplies Needed:
- Sheet protectors
- Cardstock or sturdy paper
- Colored paper
- Resume paper
- Glue stick
Now comes the fun part: Assembling the portfolio. Your portfolio should look clean, organized and professional. Place the contents into sheet protectors and group relevant items together using dividers. Print out your resume on resume paper and use colored paper for dividers or to place photographs on. You can even add borders to photos to make them more visually appealing. If your portfolio looks professional and doesn’t look like a scrapbook, prospective employers will see you put forth a lot of effort.
Using Your Portfolio
Now that you have gathered, sorted, and assembled your portfolio, it is time to use it. Use the following steps to help you utilize your portfolio while in an interview:
- Learn what is in it. Familiarize yourself with each page so when you are in an interview and asked a question, you can turn to a page and show them a tangible example.
- Know how to use it. Don’t go to your portfolio to answer every question, just use it to answer a specific question or explain an artifact.
- Do not force it. When the interview starts, do not hand the portfolio over to the interviewer, wait until it is a relevant time to use it.
- Leave artifacts out. Once you have taken items out to showcase your qualifications, leave them out. It would be very distracting to the interviewer if you are rummaging through papers. Take out each item as needed, and leave them visible until the interview is over.
Perfecting a professional teaching portfolio can be an overwhelming task. It takes time and hard work, but it is an excellent resource to have. It’s a valuable tool to take to interviews and a great way to document your professional growth.