As a teacher candidate, I have heard several times from professors and principals that I should have a portfolio. The problem is, I have no idea what I should put in my portfolio or where I should be keeping my portfolio. The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) publishes a Job Search Handbook for educators every year. I found the section “Successfully Marketing Yourself Through the Use of an Electronic Portfolio” to be very helpful. You can pick up one of these handbooks in our office!
One major point this section made is that a well put together portfolio can either make or break you in the job search. The overall layout and design of your portfolio can have a lot to do with whether it will make or break you. You want to make sure your portfolio is easy to follow and that your design or “decoration” doesn’t get in the way of the content of your portfolio.
The first part of your portfolio that the employer will see is your Welcome Page. This doesn’t have to be a big long welcome, but it should introduce you as an educator. AAEE recommends including a professional picture of yourself or an original picture that represents you positively as a teacher. This could be the same picture that is on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
A nice aspect of an online portfolio is that you can include audio or video clips to introduce yourself or a concept to future employers. This could be an original addition to your portfolio that will help you to stand out to future employers. If you choose to include an audio or visual clip, I strongly recommend including subtitles to your video to show that you are sensitive to the topic of accessibility. When creating or selecting clips for your portfolio, it is important to make sure that they are high quality and professional.
The biggest part of your portfolio is the artifacts or documents section. These documents should show that you can “effectively and positively impact students learning.” You should make sure this section of your portfolio shows your ability to:
- Plan and implement standards based instruction.
- Effectively assess.
- Manage a learning environment.
- Collaborate with others including peers, community members, parents, etc.
Similar to when you send an electronic version of your resume, you will want to save any uploaded documents as a PDF before uploading them so the format stays the same no matter what type of device the employer is using to open the document. It is important to make sure that these documents are accessible, so consider asking several friends and family to open the document to make sure that it is available. If the documents aren’t accessible you will loose all effectiveness and it will not reflect well on you as a teaching candidate.
An electronic portfolio can be a great option for providing employers with samples of your work that is easily accessible before, during, or after your interview. There are other formats that you can use to present your portfolio and you will need to choose the format that is best for your purpose. To see other possible formats you may want to check out my previous blog post “Why Make a Teaching Portfolio?”