An educator’s professional portfolio might contain lesson plans, sample assignments, audio or video recordings of their teaching style and performance evaluations from supervisors and peers.
These portfolios can truly incorporate any type of materials that show who you are as an educator, explain your approach to teaching and document your achievements. Professional portfolios are often an effective tool during the job hunting process, but creating one can also be an effective exercise for educators to reflect on their personal development.
While it can be tempting to start creating a scrapbook of your favorite student assignments, activities and lesson plans, remember that your professional portfolio should tell a cohesive story. All items you include should be carefully chosen and organized to document you as an educator and your professional growth and accomplishments.
If you’re ready to start assembling or updating your professional portfolio, keep the following in mind:
1. Choose the Right Format
Your professional portfolio can take on many forms. If you want to incorporate audio and video content, consider creating a website to tell your professional story. If you’d prefer to use hard copies of lesson plans and student work, use a scrapbook or folio format. Let the content you want to share dictate how you will create your portfolio.
2. Demonstrate Your Teaching Philosophy
Include a personal statement at the beginning of your professional portfolio that outlines your personal teaching philosophy. Nearly all prospective employers will ask you to explain your approach and how it guides your teaching. Clearly defining your philosophy will also help you in choosing the right materials to add to your portfolio and support this philosophy.
3. Explain Your Work
While the examples you provide in your portfolio are important, remember to frame them with explanations of what you want them to demonstrate. Take time to write thoughtful commentary around each of the pieces in your portfolio to explain its context and importance.
4. Show Continuous Improvement
You can show improvement in a number of ways within your professional portfolio. First, include a list of any courses and certifications you have completed to show your commitment to professional development. There are many creative professional development ideas to consider. Aside from personal improvement, you can also demonstrate the improvement of students by including assessments and examples of how your teaching has improved student performance.
5. Include Praise
Letters of recommendation, testimonials from students and parents, supervisor evaluations and more are all effective pieces to add to your professional portfolio. Your portfolio is your opportunity to show just how effective you are as a teacher, so don’t leave kind words and stellar reviews out!
It’s important that you think about updating your professional portfolio on a regular basis, even when you’re not looking for a new job. Keeping your portfolio and resume up to date with your latest professional developments and current examples of your work is important, so you’re prepared when the next great opportunity arises.
Do you have examples of how you’ve used a professional portfolio in early education? Share it with us on Twitter!
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