Question Detail

Portfolio Advice for New Teachers

Jan 28, 2014 4:18pm

Hello Teachers!

I am looking for advice on creating a professional portfolio for elementary education. I graduated from a program that required me to create two E-portfolios where I critique my teaching on video. While I think this is invaluable, I find myself in a pickle because I know I need to have a hard copy. I've looked online for the basics, but it would help immensely to hear live advice from teachers! Here are my questions:

What stands out in an exemplary portfolio? What makes it exemplary?
I don't have a ton of student work to show assessment or this a huge problem? What can I do to make up for it?
My best lesson plans are quite lengthy on paper-should I shorten it up for the interview?
What do employers want to see?

Thank you in advance for your kind feedback!

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    • Jan 29, 2014 7:16am

      Hi Janie-

      Generally teachers bring these portfolios once they have an interview, and during that interview, there is not a lot of time to look through long lesson plans or a binder. I think that it's really powerful to include pictures of students engaged in lessons, examples of student work, or short overviews of successful lessons with standards, essential questions, and a brief overview of the activity. Basically, you want your portfolio to "pop" out and exemplify who you are as a teacher without taking too much attention away from the actual interview process. Think about it as your "elevator portfolio." On an elevator ride, since it's so short, what would you really want someone to know about you a as teacher? Try to sum that up and keep those things at the forefront.

      May I ask where you're applying? I am from New England, so maybe portfolios are used differently in other parts of the country???

      Hope that helps!


      • Jan 29, 2014 8:54am

        Hi Katie!

        Thank you so much for your advice! You've truly helped me direct me on how I want my portfolio to stand out.

        I'm currently in an odd spot as to where I'll be applying. I live in Michigan now, but my husband and I are just starting our careers. He is a professional classical musician looking for a full time job (which are few and far between) I'm going to follow him wherever he goes. I was hired as a Title I teacher this year, and also recently got hired at a gifted education teacher for an online school called E-Gifted. So I'm happy that I've eased in to the profession before my first full year of teaching in a regular classroom!

        The main reason my portfolio is a video is because I got my masters of arts in teaching from USC's online program. (Great program...but expensive!!) My bachelor's degree was in music performance. So in Michigan, I'm competing with the "groupies" from Western and U of M while I have the teaching styles from both USC and my guiding teachers in Michigan. Plus...I think there is a bias against online education as well as teachers who get alternative certification. Jobs are a bit scarce now as well so I need to stand out! :-)

        Thank you so much for your direction- the elevator analogy helped me direct my focus!


        • Feb 9, 2014 6:53am

          I don't want to burst your bubble but I have asked many principals what they think of portfolios and usually their answer is "I don't have time to look at them." I work with university student teachers and they are required to complete a certain type of portfolio to show that they have met 12 outcomes along with artifacts as proof. These are put online so that principals can look at them at their leisure if they would like. Many of my students will develop and print their own "business cards" with their pertinent information and the website of their portfolio. This card is given to the principal rather than a huge portfolio notebook. But again, to be honest....I have never had a principal tell me they look at them. Of course, you can certainly take one along if you wish. However, I would not make it this huge notebook which would probably turn them off to begin with. Perhaps you could have just some samplings: one or two good lesson plans to show your format along with photos of the kids carrying out what you had planned that day. You could include letters of recommendation, even a couple of letters from students concerning their experience with you. Include whatever you like but just don't include everything! By the way, the two things principals have told me over and over that they look for in hiring: a great interview and excellent references.

          • Mar 30, 2014 9:48am

            Hello Jamie!

            There's tons of ideas out there about portfolio for teachers. When I 1st started, I had hardcopies even though it was in the advent days of the internet. I was always grateful for my portfolio because back then it showed more of my reflective nature. Student work is wonderful and if you got student data as well then I would include them too as well as pictures of what you have students doing in class, your resume too,f the note-of-thanks you get from your students. You can always take stuff out or edit your portfolio during those interviews. And if your lesson plans were too lengthy, I would show a progress of how your lesson plans have become more effective. A portfolio must show your "growth" as a professional so I would keep a few in there even though you see them as "lengthy". And then scan your hardcopies on to a USB drive or create your own e-portfolio. I would still carry hardcopies in a binder just in case the internet crashes or the computer you're using to show your stuff fails.