Recently a prospective teacher wrote to our Facebook HELPLINE! with this question, “Do I actually NEED a teaching portfolio for interviews? If so, what do I need in it, and what are some ways to make it?”
The responses from our community of teachers led to a heated debate about teaching portfolios. Check it out.
A teaching portfolio is up for debate
Teachers in our community who have served on interview committees had different opinions on the importance of portfolios.
For some, it’s a must-have. “It’s great to show during the interview or at the end. I like to see them when I’m on the interview committee.” —Felicia M.
Others don’t value it as much. “When I helped with interviews, we basically just browsed through and passed it around the table of nine without much time to look at it. It’s more important to practice answering questions with a friend so that you can speak with ease and make a great impression.” —Doreen G.
It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared, but don’t spend all of your time worrying about your teaching portfolio at the expense of preparing how you’d answer the different interview questions.
Use it to supplement your answers
Instead of waiting to be asked to show it (or prolonging the interview by bringing it out unsolicited at the end), use your teaching portfolio to provide a visual as you speak.
“You can show your best lesson plans, projects, and student work. I had a card from former students and showed it when asked about what I thought students would say about me. I think that sealed the job for me!” —Cindy H.
“I love having my teaching portfolio with me. They never ask to see it, so I take it upon myself to bring it out to supplement the answers I give to different questions.” —Erin M.
There are plenty of simple (and free) ways to organize a teaching portfolio online so you don’t have to worry about lugging a hardcopy around.
“My teaching portfolio is on LiveText. It’s great because you can check how many visits you’ve had!” —Nikki L.
Keep it reproducible
Having copies that you can leave with your interviewers will keep them thinking about you long after you leave.
“I like to make small packets for each interviewer and leave it with them. I include multiple examples of lesson plans and student work. I’ve gotten an offer every time I’ve done it that way.” —Mandy M.
“When interviews are so quick, I want to leave them with something to remember me by and reason to hire me over someone else.” —Megan Y.
Try the non-portfolio teaching portfolio
“Other than a few stellar lessons and maybe letters of recommendation, there is no need to make a teaching portfolio. I just keep them in a file folder. I might add that not once have I been asked to show a portfolio. I have only shown these things when related questions were asked at the interview.” —Matt S.
“I brought a book I had printed through CVS. It included photos of my students from the previous year and highlighted some of the things they had done. It impressed the administrators, and one even asked if she could borrow it and return it to me later!” —Amanda T.
“I think a brochure is nice. You can have your philosophy, discipline strategy, contact information, and a couple of pictures on it.” —T.D. N.
Bottom line, it never hurts to be over prepared. As you go through the school year, collect and store highlights and organize them in a teaching portfolio, a memory book, whatever you want to call it. That way you’ll not only be prepared for future interviews but will have a nice memento to look back on and remember your students and your work!