As a teacher looking for a new position, it’s natural you might want to stand out of the crowd and impress interviewers, try to better your chances of landing your ideal job. There are a few ways you can achieve this, such as through a teaching portfolio. While a teaching portfolio may not always be required as part of the application process, it can help you make a good impression by highlighting your skills and experiences to the interviewers. A teaching portfolio can put you one step ahead of other individuals who are applying for the same teaching job.
However, keep in mind that a teaching portfolio isn't a requirement unless it is stated in the job opening. A good rule for these types of positions is to always follow the instructions in the job posting because every school or school board is different, so the requirements and expectations might vary.
Nevertheless, here are some aspects you should know about teaching portfolios.
A teaching portfolio is a collection of teaching experience and demonstrable skills that you showcase in the form of documents. A portfolio can also be called a profile or dossier, and it is a quick way for teachers to describe and document their goals, achievements, and overall teaching philosophy. To that end, it can contain visual aspects that work together with the rest of your portfolio to tell a story about you, your professional growth, and your teaching achievements. If well organized, your teaching portfolio can be a valuable resource during your job interview and even tell potential employers about your organizational skills. Like a resume, a teaching portfolio intends to give the interviewer more information about you. It should be used as an additional resource with which you can quickly show interviewers what you bring to the table as a teacher.
Benefits of having a teaching portfolio
A teaching portfolio is beneficial in many ways: it can show your accomplishments upfront and work well as evidence of the quality of your work as a teacher, as well as show proof to potential employers of what you have achieved and what specific skills you are bringing to the table.
Putting your teaching portfolio together takes time. In fact, it is advisable that you start early and review it often so that you do not miss the highlights of your career. A well-curated and thorough portfolio will present you as prepared, which is a quality that will undeniably show in your interview and will be another way to make a good first impression. If you're thinking long term career advancement, a teaching portfolio could help.
How to compile a polished portfolio
Your portfolio is personal to you, it is a deeply involving process that has you as the central actor in curating your teaching career story. If the job posting requires you to have a teaching portfolio, you want it to be as polished as possible.
Here are some tips so you can start curating your portfolio:
Start early, revise often
The best highlights of your work as a teacher can get lost if you do not collect them often. If you changed schools over the course of your teaching career, for example, it could be challenging to get the relevant data for your time there, but you need all the suitable information to prove your results. To ensure that you do not leave out data that can, later on, become useful for your portfolio, it is best if you begin collecting the information early on. Throughout the year as you go about your work, remember to save anything that can help you show your results in the future. Your examples should also showcase your length of experience as a teacher. If you have been teaching for a year or two, it makes sense to have records pulled from this time. The only way to be accurate is to start keeping a record that can improve your teaching portfolio early and do so often. Some people make notes in a file or add key dates to their calendars so they can refer back to it. There are many ways to keep this information but the key is to regularly update it so you don’t forget.
Select your best work
The materials you add to your teaching portfolio should highlight your strengths, in order to showcase your experience and what you bring to the table. The particular information you should include may vary depending on each person, their teaching trajectory so far, how many years of experience they have, etc., but in any case, it must be an accurate representation of your teaching career.
Some of the aspects you can include are:
Student work samples, with any identifying information removed for privacy.
Letters of recommendation
Displays or materials you have created/used in the classroom that showcases your teaching style.
Additional teaching-related activities, such as workshops you might have attended, certifications, additional qualifications, etc.
These examples will showcase your particular teaching abilities, work ethic, how you have been received by your colleagues and students, your organizational system, and the impact you have had on your students. It will also be crucial that you can easily explain the information you add, in case the interviewer asks you to elaborate on anything in particular. Regardless of what specific aspects you decide to include in your portfolio, keep in mind that they should clarify the teaching responsibilities and practices you have had over the years and do so through supporting evidence.
Provide context for your materials
As you include documents in your portfolio, provide a short explanation for them. Make sure that each one speaks to your achievement as a teacher and clearly reflects on the role you played in supporting your students. Show how your skills and teaching style impacted their academic or personal achievements.
Design your portfolio
Once you have selected the appropriate information to include in your portfolio, the next step will be to decide how you want to present it. Thankfully, you do not have to carry hard copies of your portfolio around, some interviews now may be virtual or over the phone, which would render a physical copy of your portfolio completely useless. There are various formats that can be used for a teaching portfolio such as a PDF file, Google Drive folder, or website. Make sure it is organized and clear. Interviewers should be able to navigate your portfolio and find information easily.
If you’d like to see some portfolios to get an idea of how your own could look, you can follow this link from the University of Lethbridge, in Alberta. They have added a few useful teaching portfolio examples with a wide variety of styles as well as teaching careers. Keep in mind, there are no strict rules on the length or style of your personal portfolio, it should simply represent you in a way that is complementary to your resume and can add value to your interviewing process.
Even if the interviewing panel does not ask you for your teaching portfolio, the effort that you put into creating one can help you reinforce your goals for your teaching career and be a visual reminder of how much you have accomplished so far. The process of creating it can also be a useful way to prepare for a teaching interview by reminding you of what you have done over the years, the experiences you have accumulated, how you have grown as a teacher, etc. So, although a portfolio is not a mandatory or required part of every job application, having one can definitely help you stand out and it can’t hurt to have it at hand to help you along the way when updating your resume as your career progresses.
We hope our tips have helped you get a better idea of what a teaching portfolio is so you can now get started on curating one. Once you have your portfolio ready be sure to check out our website to find the best and latest education-related job openings, you could also browse through it right now to see the requirements of a job that catches your eye so you can be ready to apply. Our wide range of available positions is a sure way to find your next opportunity. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions and keep an eye on our social media, where we will share more tips and useful information to help you with your teaching career and much more.