A teaching portfolio is an important element of any teacher’s professional development. It provides educators with a space to document and reflect on their work, share successes, and highlight the skills they have developed over time. As a bonus, it also helps them stand out during job interviews. This blog post will walk you through how to create one!
Making a good impression at both interview and application stage is important to all aspiring teachers. These positions often require a little more than a CV and an application form. That’s where a teaching portfolio comes in. It showcases and provides proof to the claims you make on your CV and in interview. The best thing about it, so many teachers don’t make one it should help you rise to the top before you even sit down for the interview.
What is a Teaching Portfolio?
A teaching portfolio is a ongoing story of a teachers skills and abilities, qualifications and observations, teaching philosophies, resources, recommendations, lesson plans and schemes of work . A teaching portfolio can be presented as a physical or digital resource.
A teaching portfolio is a compilation of evidence that you are qualified to be a teacher. A portfolio usually consists of your academic transcripts, samples of your work (e.g., lesson plans), letters of recommendation from professors or colleagues, and any other documents which might demonstrate your suitability for the position.
It seems like a lot, but most of this you will have already prepared either during your training or your years as a teacher. What we often need help with is how to present this in the best possible format.
Why Do Teachers Need a Teaching Portfolio?
Teaching is one of those jobs that requires more concrete proof than an an interview provides. There are often trial lessons, or video lessons, and one thing that may put you ahead of the competition is a strong teaching portfolio. It showcases your work, and can be modeled to prove exactly what your skills are.
In today’s competitive job market, it is more important than ever to have a teaching portfolio. A teaching portfolio can help you stand out from other teachers and land your dream job. But what is the best way to create a good teaching portfolio? And how do you know if your teaching portfolio will be successful?
Teachers need to be great at what they do. They have to be good teachers, and also the best possible versions of themselves outside of the classroom. Teachers are often judged on their teaching abilities by how well they can engage students in a subject or just through general rapport with them.
What To Include In A Teaching Portfolio
Having a teaching portfolio is an increasingly important part of the job search process. A well-designed and thoughtfully-completed portfolio can capture the attention of prospective employers, making you more competitive for jobs and giving you a better chance of being hired.
Making English Fun has compiled this list to help teachers create their own portfolios that will showcase their skills and abilities in the best light possible. We have the short version below and then will go into more detail on each point below that.
- Curriculum Vitae
- Lesson Plans and Examples of Work
- Classroom and Lesson Resources Created and Used
- Educational Technology Knowledge
- Letters of Recommendation
- Qualification Transcripts or Certificates
- Teaching Philosophy Statement.
Curriculum Vitae For Teaching Portfolios
A curriculum vitae for teaching should be tailored to you and the teaching role you are submitting an application. For example: if your specialisms are ESL or British Sign Language then make sure these skills appear in the summary section close to the top.
If it is not clear from the job advertisement what the role will include or require then you can put brief details here too about level, subject matter taught, qualifications ongoing or completed etc. This will help to cover the generic aspects that all Curriculum Vitae should have.
How long a CV should be is a topic for eternal debate, mine for reference, is 2 pages long and full of Bullet points, I have been doing this for a lot of years and need to scale down some of the information i want to share. If you are new to teaching, or only have a couple of years then you may need to expand on the bullet points but, still make it punchy and interesting.
Mentioning extra skills is a useful addition to teaching Cvs. Schools love additional value, and all applicants will have their teaching certification and some degree of experience in teaching. Adding you sing in a band, kayak for fun or can do woodwork will help the school see extra value they can get from employing you.
What To Put In a Teaching Philosophy?
A teaching philosophy is a personal statement that explains your beliefs and values as an educator. It should be concise, yet provide insight into the type of classroom you want to create for students – one where they are engaged in learning new skills while also developing their own passions.
This section can include anything from goals related specifically towards student achievement (e g: increasing literacy rates) all way up through broader statements such like I am committed to engaging and motivating students though their educational journey.
A teaching philosophy is a document that outlines the main beliefs and values of your approach to education. It’s something personal about yourself which should highlight your approach to education and the benefits you can offer the school if they employ you. These values can include topics as varied as social justice or experiential learning.
These should be rooted in theory (elements) you have studied at college/university level – for example Piaget’s. Don’t forget to include personal anecdotes from when these beliefs were put into practice too. This is what will make it relatable with other teachers who use similar approaches themselves .
It’s also important not just focus on how things went well but acknowledge moments where some challenges arose during implementation because they can illustrate an even more effective lesson plan next time round.
Employers understand not everything works first time, especially in teaching, so demonstrating the ability to reflect and improve is very valuable in teaching.
Should You Include Lesson Plans in a Teaching Portfolio.
Of course! That’s a great idea. You might also want to include the following: use of different media, how you handle discipline and any additional qualifications that relate specifically or tangentially with teaching (e-learning courses for example).
Make sure you choose your best resources and lessons, ones that really showcase your teaching and the benefits it can bring to a student. Try and include samples of the type work you do in teaching, like essays or how-to guides that might be useful not just for your students but also any teacher who is reading through them looking at potential applicants.
A big part about creating a teaching portfolio with materials related specifically towards education means including lesson plans and if allowed or appropriate examples of those lessons in action and students work. This allows employers not to have to imagine how these would work in their school, but actually see tangible examples.
We feel it is worth mentioning this separately as it is playing a more important role in classrooms, and in the recent COVID pandemic in home that ever before. Highlighting technology skills that you have, and more importantly can teach or teach with is going to increase in importance.
If you have taught with google classrooms or zoom it is worth mentioning, if you have used apps, or even made them like we have, mention it!. If you have used coding, or have interest in exploring its use in classrooms mention it!
More and more technology is entering classrooms, at the moment through the focus on Stem Subjects. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) but in the future, and even now, it is also used in language, arts and more lessons as well.
Include Qualifications in your Teaching Portfolio.
Putting Copies of degrees, teaching certification and other qualifications is likely to be requested by employers in most cases. If you include them in a teaching portfolio it means they will go through and notice the rest of your information.
You have to remember that they will receive many many application packs from want to be employees. You want to be able to stand out. Having them see your portfolio will certainly help with this.
Letters of Recommendation
Teachers often ask if they should include letters of recommendation for teaching positions in their portfolio. This is a tricky question and it’s an important one to consider when you’re planning your next career steps.
It means you potentially have to let your current employer know you are looking for another job.
Letters of recommendation provide a third party validation about your skills and abilities as an educator; this could be very beneficial during interviews or on applications. So if you can get them from previous employers or lecturers if you are new to teaching they will always be beneficial.
We all want conformation or reassurance that we are making the correct decision, and employers are no different. If they can get references or recommendations from other senior teachers it gives them confidence when considering your application.
A letter of recommendation can be a powerful tool in the job application process. A well-written and thoughtful recommendation letter from an employer or professor can make you stand out among other candidates with similar qualifications.
It’s not always easy to determine who should write a letter of recommendation for you. If you’re looking for someone to provide feedback on your teaching skills, find out if the teacher will be willing to do this before asking them or ask them as you leave a position and keep them stored so you can use them again.
What is a Digital Teaching Portfolio and How Does It Differ From a Paper Version?
A digital teaching portfolio is an online, interactive journal of the work that you do in your classroom. You can include items such as videos, photos, lesson plans and student work samples for review by administrators and colleagues.
The use of a digital portfolio may be more beneficial than using a traditional paper one because it allows you to easily update your teaching materials with new ideas. It also provides others with access to your content at any time without having to interrupt your day-to-day schedule.
You can email this to employers much easier than posting and it also gives you the opportunity to even do demo lessons or video introductions which are much more interactive and showcase your tech skills as well!
Our advice would be to produce both versions and ask them how they would like to receive the information.
There are many benefits that come from creating a teaching portfolio. For example,
- teachers might want to use this as an opportunity for promotion or tenure
- it could be also used if seeking employment at another institution
- It is a great reflection tool for experienced teachers to keep a record of how their teaching has progressed though time.
It is important to but great effort into your portfolio, it is the window into your teaching for others. It is how you wish you be perceived as a teacher to others. However, it is just one part of being recruited as a teacher, and there are forms, interviews and even demo lessons to get through before you walk into that classroom for your first day!
Hopefully these tips will help you.