Saturday, March 12, 2016

5 Things to Include in Your Teaching Portfolio

It's that time of year!  If you're planning to make a strategic teaching career move, or just start a new adventure, you're probably thinking about what you need to do to land a great new job.

It was about this time two years ago when I was knee deep in a job hunt and beginning my moving plans.  It was only January/February, but new job postings were just beginning to appear and my new state certification needed to be finalized, and we had already turned in our letter of intent for the next school year.

One thing I learned from the whole experience: I should be keeping my teaching portfolio up to date. Heck, I didn't even have a teaching portfolio put together before I started preparing to send my resume out.  So even if you aren't looking for a new job right now, it's important to update that professional portfolio at least once a year!  (I say this and it's been two years so you know, do your thing).  Keep in mind- it's a portfolio, not a scrapbook!

The great thing about professional portfolios, is you don't have a page limit.  I mean, don't put together a 500 page portfolio because that's ridiculous...but you aren't limited in length the same way a resume can be limiting.  It's the middle ground between a resume and writing a short book about your career.

I skipped the binder and went straight to printing and binding my own book together.  I didn't want tabs and page protectors- I wanted it to look more professional.  While it's not the easiest to update the physical book, I figure I won't be printing it every time I update anyway, since the file is on my computer.  However, it IS easy to leave with my interviewer(s) if necessary, and I don't have to feel bad about it.  Plus, I could email it if it was ever necessary, and I can't do that with a binder.

1.  A Personal Letter
Don't forget a personal letter from you, complete with a school picture (might as well use those somewhere, right?).  Keep it focused and uniquely you.  You want to make an impression, not sound like everyone else.  Play up your strengths.  Now is the time for a get-to-know-you and a little humble-brag.

2.  The Nitty Gritty:  Cover letter, resume, vital information
Obviously, right?  Include a copy of your cover letter and resume, as well as contact information,  education qualifications (B.S., M.S.Ed., etc.), and certification.

3. Educational Philosophy and Career Goals
It's important to know what you want out of your career and how you approach teaching in your classroom.  If nothing else, this is excellent reflection for you to do ahead of any interview.  If you include it in your portfolio, you can easily access it during any interview or leave it for your future employer to read through.  Keep it simple and to the point.  No one is going to include this in their nighttime reading ritual.

4. Professional Development
Make a list.  Check it twice.  Look back at your paperwork.  Depending on the opportunities in your school or district, this can be lengthy.  If it shows your training or experience, then include it!

5. Your Classroom
There is no better way to get a feel for your teaching approach than to get a sneak peak inside your classroom.  Administrators pick up on a TON of small things around the room that lend insight to your management, organization, and enthusiasm for teaching through pictures.

Here's an example from my portfolio table of contents:

The great thing about this is that I can keep a big cumulative portfolio (more of a curriculum vitae) for my own records, plus a smaller one that I can update and take with me if I am interviewing somewhere.  

Once again, I've been curating a professional development Pinterest board that has all kinds of good stuff (and growing!) included- if you want ideas for curriculum vitae, resume help, ideas for developing your own teaching philosophy, or even just what a portfolio looks like, check out the board!


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