The basic purpose of a portfolio is to show your teaching skills and abilities. The portfolio is taken to interviews and becomes a focus for discussions about your experiences and understanding of various areas of teaching. It is something that must be made with pride and careful selection of materials. A portfolio is a chance for you to show a principal that you are a creative, thoughtful, and engaging teacher who achieves learning goals and objectives in a classroom.
Though many of your professors may suggest specific layouts or formats, the areas that must be presented are relatively consistent:
• PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION STATEMENT: This one page description of your thoughts on education has probably been a requirement in one of your courses. When you include this in your portfolio, make sure you have a clean copy. If your professor made suggestions on the requirement, then edit your philosophy of education statement to reflect what was suggested before putting it in your portfolio.
• RESUME: The resume is perhaps the most important way you will acquire the attention of a principal seeking candidates for available positions. Please see the Resume Template for guidance in creating this first introduction of you to the principal.
• CERTIFICATION: You should show all of your certification tests and other certification information in this section.
• REFERENCES: Though it is advisable to state “references on request” in your resume, references should be placed in your portfolio. When possible, as you complete fieldwork or student teaching ask your cooperating teacher for a reference. It is easier for the cooperating teacher to refer to your skills and abilities when it is fresh in his/her mind.
• CURRICULUM EXAMPLES: This section can be divided into content areas or it can be related to a whole unit. In general, Elementary Teachers show representations of their teaching abilities in several disciplines including: language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Adolescent Teachers generally present a curriculum unit of study. In either case, certain items should be included in this section:
o Lesson Plans: As with the Philosophy of Education statement, any suggestions you received on graded Lesson Plans should be included in the lesson plan before placing it in your portfolio. Also, even if you were not able to include technology in the actual lesson you presented in a class (i.e., technology was not available in your school placement), make sure you include technology in the lesson you present in your portfolio. Remember, over 90% of children between the ages of 6 and 18 have access to computers (e.g., through after school programs, library, boys/girls clubs, church, etc.) . Address this by including technology either through infusion within the lesson or extensions for learning that could be done by the child after school. It is very important to realize that teachers will not be replaced by technology; teachers will be replaced by teachers who USE and INFUSE technology. Make sure you reflect in your lessons that you are a teacher with the technology skills to reach media savvy children in the 21st Century.
o Visual Representations of Teaching Experiences: Make sure you take pictures of various aspects of your teaching experiences: bulletin boards you created, you working with students one-on-one or in groups, student activities you used to engage learning such as debates, plays, etc. Pictures of your activities while teaching often serve as a catalyst to discuss how you apply best teaching practices.
o Selected Student Work: Throughout your teacher candidate experiences, keep as much student work as possible to show how your work with children improved their skills and understanding. For example, if a culminating activity related to a lesson required students to write a persuasive paragraph about a specific issue, Xerox how you graded a student’s first attempt to fulfill the requirement (e.g., probing them to make a stronger connection, reminding them to check their verb agreement, etc.) and then Xerox the students’ revised version of the assignment to show how what you suggested improved a child’s ability to meet the objectives of the lesson. It is not necessary to show all student work, be selective.
• BASIC PRESENTATION SUGGESTIONS: Your portfolio is going to reflect you as a professional educator. Invest the time and energy to make it something you can share with pride:
o Use consistent fonts of at least 12 pt. throughout the portfolio
o Invest in plastic sleeves for all pages in your portfolio
o Select a binder large enough to accommodate all of your materials comfortably