Creating a Portfolio
Most portfolios today are actually ePortfolios using an app or a software platform. This is valuable since many colleges require videos of yourself teaching and managing your class during your student teaching or internship. Add your videos, résumé. and letters of recommendation and you’re on your way! Continue by adding examples of a unit you designed and taught, communications with parents, and more.
Basic documents to include before heading off to a job fair or interview are:
- Résumé and cover letter used for this particular job;
- Teacher certification;
- Your philosophy of teaching or key beliefs about teaching;
- 1-3 successful lesson plans or a sample syllabus;
- Sample letter to parents about the beginning of the school year or semester;
- List of rules, consequences, and positives that you’ve used in the classroom;
- Samples from a unit (one to three pages);
- Sample of a student’s work (with the name removed);
- Photos of a bulletin board or learning center you created, or photos of students engaged in activities you organized;
- Proof of membership in a professional organization, such as Kappa Delta Pi; and
- Letter noting a special achievement or volunteer activity or a thank-you letter from a student or parent.
Career and Teacher Portfolios
Veteran teachers also use portfolios to track and showcase their work and display their professional development, which many states require. Often these portfolios are based on the Teacher Evaluation Framework being used by the school district (such as Danielson or Marzano), with samples to correlate to each part of the rubric. These can be used during evaluations and for the teacher (and a mentor) to reflect upon her practice and seek ways to improve.
With a teaching portfolio, you can:
- Share your teaching philosophy,
- State your teaching goals,
- Showcase your teaching ability,
- Organize aspects of your teaching practice,
- Demonstrate your growth as a teacher,
- Demonstrate the quality of your lessons,
- Reflect on and articulate your practice,
- Share your personal teaching style, and
- Show evidence of your teaching goals.
To build your portfolio,
- Collect material throughout the year and organize it as you go.
- Include various types of examples that demonstrate different aspects of your practice.
- Focus on quality, not quantity.
- Style it to be readable and engaging.
- Use friendly but professional introduction and parts pages.
- Include your teaching awards, student feedback, sample lessons, and teaching evaluations.
- Invite a friend or colleague to review it before you share it with an evaluator or prospective employer.
Teacher portfolios become career portfolios when you want to make a job change. The longer you’ve been teaching, the more samples you may want to add. If you’re an experienced teacher or substitute teacher looking for another position, you may want to include some additional information in your portfolio.
Include a table of contents and only the best-of-the-best work samples in the portfolio:
- Table of contents
- Background information
- State certification
- Key beliefs
- Teacher artifacts
- Lesson plans
- Unit outlines
- Student work samples
- Extracurricular interests
- Class newsletters
- Examples of collaboration/teaming
- Professional information
- List of professional activities
- Awards and achievements
- Letters of recommendation
- Ongoing professional development
You’ll use your teaching portfolio all the time. Use it in a job interview or at a job fair to demonstrate evidence of your practice. Share it as part of a licensure review. Access it to demonstrate growth in a promotion or tenure review. Refer to it as a teaching tool when you’re acting as a teacher-leader or mentor to new teachers. Document your practices, continued learning, and roles in your district to record your personal and professional growth.
Candidates increasingly are creating electronic portfolios. They are convenient, creative, current, and show potential employers the candidate’s technological aptitude. Hard-copy portfolios are still important however, because they provide testimony to your work and teaching strategies during interviews. The bound portfolio also serves as a backup in case the interviewer did not have time to review the electronic version.
Learn about developing a professional portfolio at https://ctl.wustl.edu/resources/teaching-portfolio
Examples of Portfolios
The Gallery of Teaching & Learning from the Carnegie Foundation provides digital representations of knowledge related to teaching and learning. Check out several.
Kathleen Fischer - http://durak.org/kathy/portfolio/
Stéphanie Landner - https://sites.google.com/site/stephanieladner/
Kelly Tam - http://tams.yolasite.com/
Monica Östergren - http://ostergrenm.weebly.com/
Megan Carnaghi - http://carnaghiteachingportfolio.weebly.com/
Tips for Polishing Your Professional Portfolio
A portfolio can be a useful way to demonstrate your proficiency within your area of study or professional expertise. It should be as unique as you are. Depending on the field in which you work (or hope to work), your portfolio may contain documents or work samples, which could vary significantly from that of a colleague who works in a different field. Furthermore, you may decide to create a physical portfolio for appointments, or you may opt for an “e-portfolio” that displays all your evidence on one cohesive and thoughtfully organized website.
Consider making these items the basis of your interview portfolio to provide evidence of your qualifications and accomplishments.
- Include your résumé, as this key document lists your skills and work history in one place. It is an expected part of any job applicant’s materials.
- A list of references, as well as letters of recommendation, are generally expected when you apply for a job, so they are appropriate to include in your portfolio. (You can also say that your references, and their contact information, are available upon request; this helps minimize any potential privacy issues.)
- Copies of your professional licenses, certificates, awards, school transcripts, military records, and other pertinent documentation can help you demonstrate your skills, leadership, professionalism, and achievements.
- Feature samples of your work. Identify the skills you want to highlight and choose the work that best represents your abilities. For example, if a job requires writing skills, include well-written (and non-confidential) plans, process documents, formal papers, or business letters. If presentations are part of your potential new role, include slide decks (or perhaps a video, if your portfolio is online).
- Similarly, case studies illustrating a challenge you’ve faced, the solution you devised, and the steps you took to resolve the issue can be a powerful demonstration of your problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities.
- Performance reviews and school transcripts are official records that detail your strengths, achievements, and professional & educational track record.
- A detailed list highlighting your major career achievements to date can be persuasive.
- If you have attended conventions, conferences, or seminars related to your field, provide a list of these as well—especially if you have participated in some capacity (e.g., as a speaker).
- List the community service, volunteer opportunities, or pro bono efforts to which you’ve contributed. Photographs and other documents can provide potential employers with further evidence of your dedication to hard work and service.
- If your hobbies relate to the job you seek (like you work with kids), or if they demonstrate a pertinent skill set not readily apparent from other pieces of your portfolio, consider adding a section that illustrates your talents in those areas. (These items should still relate to your career in some manner, or else interviewers may potentially see them as unprofessional. If you’re in doubt, don’t include these items.)
- If your work has received any publicity (e.g., coverage in news articles or press releases), include copies of these mentions, as they serve as public acknowledgement of your achievements. Likewise, unsolicited letters of commendation from employers, vendors, or organizations can function as “testimonials” for the work you’ve done.
- If you have a personal business card, place one of these in the portfolio as well. It provides all your contact information in a format that’s easy to save (or pass along). Consider adding a tagline that summarizes your professional role and goal, as well as a brief, bulleted list of your skills and accomplishments (which can be placed on the back of the card).
In addition to listing the above items, you may want to adapt your portfolio to reflect the needs or concerns of the employer with whom you’re interviewing. By tailoring your portfolio to the position you’re pursuing, you demonstrate your interest in that specific job while highlighting your specific qualifications for it.
Whether it’s online or in a leather case, your portfolio reflects you. Plan it carefully, organize it thoughtfully, make it look as sharp as you can and, more than likely, you’ll leave potential employers with a positive impression!