Hey, y’all! This is Danielle from Nouvelle ELA, taking over the Coffee Shop this week to get real about Teaching Portfolios. Whether it’s to prepare for an annual review, to look for a new job, or just to feel great about what an amazing teacher you are, you need a Teaching Portfolio.
I’m a military spouse and we are early in our career, meaning that we move around a LOT. I’ve already had to interview for several teaching positions, and I can tell you that a stellar Teaching Portfolio has won me more than one job. It has also helped me move up a level on a couple of components in my annual review – I had the proof that I was accomplished in the target area! All of the examples in this post are from my teaching portfolio, and be sure to check out the free planning sheet.
So, let’s break it down.
A great Teaching Portfolio:
*showcases you and your teaching philosophy
*includes artifacts (photos, student samples, lesson plans) that support those philosophies
*is organized and useful in a job interview or annual review.
1. A Teaching Portfolio should showcase your philosophy.
The whole point of a Teaching Portfolio is so that the person sitting across from you can get a glimpse into your wonderful expert teacher brain and imagine a day in the life of your classroom. Is your classroom quiet or loud? Do you favor lectures or group work? Do you give a lot of direct feedback, or do you favor peer editing? What is your main strategy for developing strong readers?
Your whole Teaching Portfolio is really centered around this philosophy, so be sure to check out this Teaching Philosophy Questionnaire and Teaching Portfolio Checklist to get started.
2. A Teaching Portfolio should include a lot of proof.
This is the most fun aspect of a portfolio, in my opinion: collecting artifacts. For the next month, snap a picture at least once a day of life in your classroom. This can be students working on activities, bulletin boards and displays, and student work. Keep student samples if you can, but be sure to take pictures of three-dimensional projects, too.
In addition to proof of your life with students, snag proof of other parts of your school life, too. Print a few emails to parents to show your communication style. HUGE CAVEAT here that this shouldn’t be anything personal about a student and you should black out all names and email addresses. Just print an example of a “first contact” email that tells how amazing a student is – this is simply proof that you keep in touch! As part of my portfolio, I have the email that I send to parents before we start “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, explaining about the value of No Fear, Shakespeare and other support available.
Have you done other things at school? Show proof of that, too. For me, this includes programs for the plays and functions I’ve directed. For you, it may be a team schedule for Varsity Basketball or a photograph of your winning Robotics team.
3. A Teaching Portfolio should be organized and usable.
As you design your portfolio, keep the other party in mind. Is it an administrator in your school or a job committee? Does the person have five minutes or thirty to spend looking at your artifacts? Here are some hints to keep in mind:
Use section dividers to your advantage. Mine include personal info, lesson plans, student artifacts, communication, and evaluations
Give every page a title and every artifact a caption. Make sure that the viewer always knows the worth of each artifact. For example, I have tags that say “Collaboration example” and “STEM project”.
Choose your artifacts carefully. Don’t overwhelm your viewer. Make sure that you’ve already selected the best of the best, and that someone could find something interesting on every page.
Use tabs (labeled from your point-of-view) to help you guide the viewer. These will face you as you sit across the table from your interview or assessor and guide the conversation. For example, I know that I want to mention my Student-Selected Reading program, so I have that tab reminds me of that.
Practice with your Teaching Portfolio. Recruit a friend or loved one to sit across from you (like an interviewer) and walk them through your philosophy and portfolio. Let them ask you questions about various student samples and talk to them about what they see in the pictures.
Remember, this is the best you have to offer, and you deserve to be proud of it. You are an expert, and you have the right to guide an interview to highlight your strengths. It’s never amiss to gently add “I would love to talk to you about my experience leading Debate Club”, and then guide them to a page. Be kind, but assertive, and use your teaching portfolio to show off that very best side of you.
What is an activity or lesson that you're most proud of? How will you showcase it in your teaching portfolio? Let us know in comments! We love hearing from our readers, and be sure to follow us on Instagram @secondaryenglishcoffeeshop for more great conversations.
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