If you are looking to get your first job out of college or if you are ready to make a switch in district or position, you already know that you have to prepare for the interview process. However, many educators might not realize they should spend just as much time working on, or updating, their professional portfolio. The right professional portfolio can showcase your dedication, creativity, and personality, which can help administrators know if you would be a good fit within their district.
What is a Professional Portfolio?
A professional portfolio is a collection of materials that highlight your education philosophy and career. Since you cannot take your classroom with you into your interview, administrators can struggle with knowing if you will be a good addition to their district based solely on a series of interviews. Your portfolio can fill in the gap and highlight your creativity and skills.
It’s important to note that your portfolio does not take the place of an official application, resume, or cover letter. Instead, a portfolio will complement these documents and give a district additional information about you.
What Should a Professional Teaching Portfolio Showcase?
A professional portfolio is appropriate for any educator, no matter your preferred grade level, subject, or position. It should showcase your current philosophy about education as well as your dedication, creativity, specialized skills, and personality. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you are compiling your portfolio elements:
- Your portfolio should highlight your current skills and focus on the future of your career. If you aren’t updating your portfolio regularly, you run the risk of it including outdated information that no longer quite suits you.
- Choose to keep your portfolio digital when possible. This way, it is easy to email or share to multiple people and you won’t have to worry about toting around an actual folder of documents to each of your interviews. You can use a WordPress site and keep it password protected, or you can create a site using Google or Adobe.
- Make your portfolio organized so that it tells the story of your career, including where you want your career to go.
- When there is doubt, pare down. If you are an experienced teacher, your portfolio can quickly become overstuffed with information that could encourage hiring administrators to skim instead of thoroughly read. Don’t be afraid to exclude some artifacts or documents; a “lean and mean” portfolio is more likely to be read and reviewed.
- Skip your college lesson plans and experience, if possible. If you are coming right out of college, you will want to include your college experience and projects. However, if you have been in a classroom even one year, you can eliminate the college projects and instead include “real-life” examples of your work.
If you haven’t reviewed your portfolio since your senior year in college, or if you have been out of the job market for a few years, you might feel overwhelmed about starting on your new portfolio. Try working with a mentor to streamline the process, or focus on only one part of your portfolio each month in order to make the task seem less overwhelming to accomplish.
How to Make a Professional Portfolio
Your professional portfolio should be easy to navigate so that administrators can find what they need easily and efficiently. You should always include a brief introduction of your portfolio that offers readers a glimpse into what they can expect from the compilation of documents. After your introduction, you can include items based on category, as this seems to be an easy way to allow readers to make the most of their time reviewing your portfolio.
Here are items you can include in your portfolio:
- Your teaching philosophy: keep it short and sweet. Also, use your philosophy as the foundation of your portfolio; include other items that support or enhance your philosophy statement.
- Letters of recommendation: when possible, keep the letters recent and varied. Try to include a letter from a teammate as well as from a leader within your district.
- Awards: don’t be afraid to brag a little here. If you’ve been honored with a school, district, or state award, showcase it here.
- Remote learning example and reflection: online learning stormed onto the education scene due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it required teachers to be flexible and creative while still caring for their students. Highlight your experience here, including a few examples of how you met students online and take a moment to share your reflections on the experience.
- Artifacts from your classroom: examples can include a unit or lesson plan, as well as student responses via photo, Flipgrid, or other source. Don’t forget to get student permission if you are using their photo or full name.
- A work-in-progress: consider showing what your planning and follow-through look like by including a current work-in-progress. This can include a long-term goal and the milestones you are reaching toward it or even a current project you are working on for your classroom or district.
Remember, your professional portfolio is one more way to help hiring administrators get to know you. A portfolio should complement your resume and interview, giving administrators a glimpse into life inside your classroom and a peek into how you live your philosophy daily.
Now’s the time to go ahead and review, reflect, and update your professional portfolio to really showcase your creativity, skills, and talent.