What is the purpose of a portfolio?
A portfolio is a well-organized collection of documents that showcase
your achievements, teaching style, and strengths as a teacher.
While a portfolio is not a required document in the application process,
it can help you “stand apart” among candidates as a conscientious,
well-organized teacher candidate. As you prepare a portfolio, consider:
a) your organizational system, b) types of portfolios; c) materials
you might include.
Where do I begin? Review your prior experiences and
reflect on what you believe is excellence in teaching—your portfolio
shows how you demonstrate these qualities. Your portfolio should be a
tool to tell about YOU.
Ideally, as you move through field experiences,
summer jobs, and volunteer opportunities keep “everything” and keep it
organized in file folders. You never know when you might need to draw
from a lesson plan for a particular demonstration lesson you are called
to do for an interview. Also, take lots of pictures, particularly plan
shots that include you interacting with children engaged in an
Organize your portfolio materials electronically. This will allow you to
manipulate information and print it as necessary. Also, if you decide to
prepare an electronic portfolio, you will be able to “demonstrate” your
portfolio on your laptop for a second on-site interview. Employers like
to see competency and various applications of technology--this is a good
excuse to use it!
Types of Portfolios
A take portfolio is usually a large binder that includes standard job
application materials, as well as, a substantial amount of work samples.
Pages are organized in sheet protectors with extra copies tucked inside
for items that you might want to provide a school district. (i.e. reference letters, clearances, transcripts, PRAXIS scores, etc.)
A send portfolio is usually 15-20 pages and serves as a showcase.
It can be sent or given to a school district with your resume,
application, etc. It can also be a great tool in an interview
because it is streamlined, manageable, and concise.
A personal trifold approach is targeted to your strengths and serves as
an engaging piece, especially to hand out at a job fair with your
resume. A brochure might include: philosophy (of education and/or
classroom management), pictures, contact information, quotes from
references, and whatever elements you decide are important to highlight.
An electronic portfolio can be accessed via the Internet,
so it is convenient and affordable. This can be a great resource to
showcase your technological abilities, but don't assume that all
interviewers will be interested in this format (just as some employers may
not take the time to review your print portfolio).
Portfoliogen are sites that
allow you to post your electronic portfolio for free. However,
rising in popularity are Google Docs and Pinterest. They are safe,
free, "known", and reputable! If you prefer to prepare your portfolio
in a document like PowerPoint, this is a manageable option too. See
What to Include in your Portfolio: Some Options
•Your philosophy of education
•Classroom management philosophy
•Sample lessons and worksheets
○Be sure to have samples from a variety of
grade levels and subject areas
○Use lessons that you feel comfortable
discussing with interviewers
○Different teaching strategies
○Diversity in ethnicity and age
○Special activities you did while teaching that you
would like to showcase
○Sample bulletin boards, posters, or other large
○Variety of subject content
○Interaction with parents, technology, special
NOTE: ONLY use photos that either protect student subjects or are
authorized by parents
•Quotes and/or references
○Be sure to get references from a variety of sources
○If using quotes, choose quotes from a variety of people
co-op, principal, students, etc.)
•Evaluations from cooperating teachers and advisors
○Keeping your final evaluations in a specific spot
is especially important
○Make copies of all evaluations your co-op and
advisors give you
•Additional resources (These might be put in a larger portfolio, but
maybe not included in a "send portfolio" or a brochure)
○Reference letters and list of contacts (ASK THEM SOONER
○Certification and clearances
○Letters and certificates (e.g., recognition of academic abilities,
professional development activities, honoraries, job recognition,
participation in education related
activities [i.e. Math Blast] etc.)
Tips from Graduates
Three graduates offer advice on developing
portfolios--from binders to electronic formats. They also share
tips on using the portfolio in the job search.
Portfolio Pros and Cons