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Your Portfolio Represents You!

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What is a portfolio and why do I need one?

Your portfolio is a collection of documents that tells a story about you, illustrating your professional growth and teaching achievements. It is a way of promoting yourself that is dramatically increasing in popularity in the education field and which, if used correctly, will work to your advantage.

Portfolios are used for a variety of reasons. A well-organized portfolio is an important resource when you are conducting a job search. Educators who want to stand out from the crowd use a portfolio as an added tool to secure a job offer - not just any job offer, but an excellent offer.

The teaching portfolio provides the following functions:
  • Showcases your relevant accomplishments, skills, and experience to indicate the value you offer to the school districts you have targeted.



  • Demonstrates that you understand the needs and priorities of the school district as you tailor your portfolio toward the requirements your research identifies.

  • Illustrates your dedication to excellence as you present a well thought out, well-organized, concise display of your best work.

  • Complements your job interview because it provides documentation or other proof of your experience and skills.
Organizing Your Portfolio

It is important that you personalize your portfolio in the same way you personalize the resume and cover letter you include with it. Contents of portfolios will vary, but you should ensure that the contents are organized around a set of teaching standards or principles. There are many standards available through universities, state departments, school districts, and educational associations, for example, those of the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), which are available at www.ccsso.org/intascst.html. The district to which you are applying might have a set of competencies that you may choose to use as your standard.

So what do you include in your portfolio? You can start with the following essential elements and then add additional items as time goes on.

Cover Sheet. Some educators use graphics, fancy fonts, or an appropriate quote to make the binder look professional and individual.

Table of Contents. The Table of Contents previews what is in the portfolio and demonstrates your attention to detail and skills of organization.

Letter of Introduction/Cover Letter. The letter should be customized to the reader and present you, the product, in an interesting, attention-grabbing way. You can review samples at: resumes-for-teachers.com/cover-letters.htm.

Resume. Shows all your relevant skills and accomplishments in a concise and exciting document. To give you an idea of how to organize your information so it quickly answers the reader's question, "How can this candidate be of value to our school district?" You can view some sample resumes at resumes-for-teachers.com/teacher-resume-examples.htm

Philosophy of Education Statement. A personalized, double-spaced statement, one to one-and-a-half pages long, that outlines your core educational beliefs. Learn more by clicking here: resumes-for-teachers.com/teaching-portfolio.htm.

Official documents. These will demonstrate your eligibility to teach. They should include transcripts, certification, and/or test scores.

Lesson plans. Include your best lessons that truly show your style, value and ability to address the needs of the district. You should research the needs of the school district and focus on lesson plans that are relevant to those needs. Make sure that the units you use follow the criteria you learned during student teaching, or your present methods.

Photographs of Classroom Activities. Again, use appropriate pictures showing students who are enjoying the learning process and the lesson plans you have created. Pictures of special events, such as field trips, bike rodeos, science camps, parent days and so on are a nice addition. Illustrations showing learning centers, bulletin board displays and group interaction could be included.

Autobiography. A reflection about yourself, so the reader can understand you as a person. You need to know when to use one in your portfolio and when to leave it out. This will depend on your background.

Evaluations. Suitable evaluations could be from student teaching, principals, or students.

List of References. Make sure you first discuss their inclusion with the people you put in your list. Ask if you can include them and if they will provide you with an excellent reference. Choose individuals who can testify to your talent, teaching skills, and personality. Normally you would pick supervisors, mentors, college professors, or co-workers.

Letters of Recommendation. Don't include every letter you get. Choose maybe four or five of the best letters, placing them in the order hat demonstrates your most effective and relevant skills in order to match your value to the school district's requirements. Administrators, team teachers, college professors, parents of students, former students and employers may write these letters.

There are many different ways to organize your documentation. Each person will decide what is best for his or her situation. However you organize your portfolio, make sure you know where everything is, so you can use it to your advantage. For example, when you are being interviewed and you are asked what your most successful lesson plan was and how you integrated it, you can open your portfolio and show them. That will make a great impression!

If developed and used correctly, your portfolio can highlight your teaching knowledge, skills, and capabilities, making you stand out from other applicants. There is a lot in the old saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words."

Please remember these are only basic tips. For further help with your resume, contact A+ Resumes for Teachers.

About the Author

Candace Davies, Owner of A+ Resumes for Teachers, is a Global Career Management Professional dedicated to assisting educators worldwide to leverage their strengths, accomplishments, and unique selling points to capture their dream position. Her team has successfully assisted 3000-plus education professionals by transforming their talents into concise documents that secure numerous interviews, leading to excellent job offers. Candace is certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Interview Coach, Certified Electronic Career Coach, and Certified Career Coach. Please visit her website at resumes-for-teachers.com, send her an email to candoco@telus.net, or call toll-free 877-738-8052.
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