Building Your Teaching Portfolio

A teacher portfolio may be a required part of your student teaching experience. Even if it is not required, a teaching portfolio is a beneficial tool to have for interviews. Basically, it is a collection of materials that exhibits your accomplishments as a teacher.

Remember that this is a professional collection. The most common form of presentation is a three ring binder with plastic sleeves to display the information.

While the types of material to include in a portfolio are endless, there are some standard inclusions. Use labeled tab dividers to create an organized portfolio. The first section tends to feature your resume, references, a short biography, awards, letters of recommendation, and copy of state certification. If you had exam scores on required tests like the PRAXIS that are worthy of showing off include them too.

This is followed by your personal teaching philosophy, classroom management overview, and professional goals. Then include some of your best lesson plans, self-created materials including assessments, and examples of student work. Include pictures of students engaged in the lessons for added visual appeal. Examples of parent communication are another valuable addition. Also include certificates of professional development experience and positive evaluations completed by your supervisor, cooperating teacher, or past employers.

Creating an outstanding teacher portfolio is a time consuming process, and chances are potential employers will only glance over it. Therefore, it is your responsibility to use your portfolio to your best advantage. Practice answering common interview questions with the use of your portfolio. To do this successfully you must know your portfolio from cover to cover. For example, when asked to describe one of your best lessons, practice showing the plan and pictures of the students engaged in the activity as you describe the lesson.

Using this technique while interviewing means, “It’s no longer just a question-answer session. It morphs into a show and tell… a bragging session that shows off your qualities as a teacher. And THAT will make you stand out above the other candidates!” according to Tim Wei of TeacherInterview.com. A teacher portfolio allows you to give solid evidence of the claims you make during the interview, which will make a lasting impression and increase your credibility.

Some candidates offer to drop of their portfolio prior to the job interview. Another option is to offer to leave the portfolio for additional viewing after the interview. In either of these situations, make sure your portfolio will be returned in a timely manner.

Electronic portfolios are another option or addition. A disadvantage of an electronic portfolio is you cannot refer to it during a traditional interview. However, electronic portfolios can easily be viewed by employers before or after an interview.

Also, with online applications becoming increasingly common, a link to an online portfolio is a professional addition.

Teaching portfolios are not just for teachers new to the field. Experienced teachers should try to maintain and revise their teaching portfolio. It is a great place to store records of professional development, awards, and other documented accomplishments. Furthermore, it is a good reference to have for tenure or other career advancements, and just in case you need to start a new job search, it is great to have your portfolio ready.

The following resources offer additional information for preparing a teacher portfolio.

Vanderbilt University
Website:
www.vanderbilt.edu/cft/resources

Washington University
Website:
http://teachingcenter.wustl.edu/creating-teaching-portfolio

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