A professional teaching portfolio enables you to capture highlights of your teaching approaches, methods, and style, and to share those examples of good practice with others.
Think of your portfolio as a marketing presentation selling you and your work. A good cover letter and résumé will land you an interview, but a portfolio of actual classroom work is a must for interviews.
Traditionally, portfolios are professional-looking three-ring binders measuring no more than two inches on the spine filled with plastic sleeves that contain and protect your teaching documents. Leather binders with zippers look especially professional. Whatever style of portfolio you select, make sure that it is neat and orderly, inside and out. A good portfolio is not a large notebook that bulges at the seams, but a concise collection of significant artifacts that represent your best work. Today most portfolios are electronic—done with an app or specific software.
The Interview Portfolio
There are two types of portfolios: a general teaching portfolio and an interview portfolio. The single most important thing to know about portfolios is that your interview portfolio is NOT the same as the large portfolio you created to document your student teaching or teacher education program. Your interview portfolio is a thin notebook or padfolio, with only six to ten items. Your interview portfolio will draw pieces from your teaching portfolio that are specific to the job for which you are interviewing. Thus, you will want to start by building a teaching portfolio.
The second thing to know is that interviewers almost never say, “Show me your portfolio.” Your portfolio is a visual to use when asked a specific question. For example, when asked, “How have you communicated with parents in the past?” you can open your portfolio and show a sample letter to parents that you wrote during your field experience or student teaching. Think of your portfolio as your “show and tell” for interviews. Use it as a reference and visual aid during a face-to-face interview with a potential employer.
Get Started on Your ePortfolio
Watch the excellent webinar Portfolios in the Job Search: Busy Work or Competitive Edge? By Deborah Snyder and Samantha Fecich. As technology plays a bigger role in connecting employers and job seekers, digital portfolios are increasingly used by candidates within the education profession. Not only do ePortfolios provide a candidate with a professional digital presence, they also demonstrate how one’s skills and accomplishments can contribute to a new position. From presenters Deborah Snyder and Samantha Fecich, career counselor and educational technology expert, learn how to make your digital portfolio stand out from the crowd, and gain technology tool suggestions to get you started.
Go to Understanding Portfolios for lists of items to include and how to put your portfolio together. Most new teachers now use electronic portfolios or ePortfolios, so learn how to create those and get links to apps to help you.
Do you want to know if anyone will see your portfolio? You will also want to read this controversial blog. Watch the webcast of Top 10 Questions of Teaching Position Seekers.
A short introductory video of you talking about yourself, your pedagogy, and your philosophy of education is helpful. Even more helpful in getting an interview is a video that shows you in the classroom, engaging your students. Learn how to make both of these by watching the webcast by Anna Quinzio-Zafran called “Promote Yourself! Steps to Making a Video That Shows You As an Effective Teacher” that features video clips from the 2014 National Student Teacher of the Year Mandy Jayne Stanley. You can see Mandy Jayne’s whole video in the Videos section of the Resources Catalog.
Guides to Portfolio Preparation
“A Guide to Portfolio Preparation for New Teachers,” by Mitchell Sakofs, Ph.D., and Darren Robert, Ed.D
“Your Portfolio for Finding a Job,” adapted from The ABC’s of Job-Hunting for Teachers: An A–Z Guide to Landing the Perfect Job by Mary Clement. See the book for more guides and resources.