Is a teaching portfolio absolutely necessary to get a job in education? I bet you think I am going to say, "Of course. You can't get a job without one." Actually, you CAN get a job WITHOUT a teaching portfolio. I've been on many interview committees and I'd estimate that less than 50% of all candidates have a portfolio. And we've even hired people who do not have a portfolio. But, even so, I STRONGLY recommend assembling a good portfolio and presenting it to your interviewers.
But why? I hear the argument AGAINST portfolios all the time: It takes many hours to prepare a proper teaching portfolio. (Which it does.) Interviewers seldom ask to see the portfolio. (Which is true.) It's hard for inexperienced teachers to find enough quality material to put in the portfolio. (Perhaps.)
So, why WOULD you want to have one? Even though you don't NEED a portfolio, I really think it's a good idea to have one in front of you next time you sit down at an interview table. Here's why....
When you have a portfolio, the interview will be easier because you will have something in your hands to talk about. When an interviewer asks you how you would do something, you can simply open your portfolio, and SHOW him/her how you HAVE BEEN DOING whatever it is they're asking about. When you are asked a question, you can onlyreally do one of two things: a) You can answer by simply telling them what you would do-- or b) you can answer by SHOWING them PROOF of what your teaching is like. Which will impress an interviewer more? Of course, it is better to show and prove your teaching experiences because the interviewer will have much more confidence in your ability if he/she has seen concrete EXAMPLES of your work.
The simple act of walking in the room with a portfolio sends off positive signals. When you have a portfolio in-hand you seem serious about wanting the job. You are showing that you took time to prepare for the meeting. It shows that you are organized enough to compile evidence of your teaching experiences. People who are serious, prepared, and organized at an interview are usually serious, prepared, and organized teachers. Principals know this and they'll be looking for signs of these attributes in their new employees.
An interviewer will find you more INTERESTING if you use your portfolio effectively at an interview. Think about it: All day long, this person is sitting in a room asking questions about teaching practices and philosophy of education. After 3... 4... 5... 10... 12... 15 candidates they are bored to death of listening to cliche responses and tired of focusing. So, with your portfolio, YOU have a chance to add a little excitement to their day. How? You make it a conversational, interactive interview. When they ask about your teaching philosophy, you don't just tell them-- you pull it out and put it in their hands while you talk about it. When they ask about a successful lesson you've done, you pull out photographs and pass them around the table. If they ask how you communicate with parents, you pull out a copy of a parent newsletter you made up and say, "Here's a copy of my parent newsletter-- you can keep it!" By giving your interviewer things to hold, examine, and discuss, the interview becomes more interesting. It's not longer just a question-answer session. It morphs into a show and tell... a bragging session that shows off your qualities as a teacher. And THAT will make you stand out above the other candidates!
- So what, EXACTLY, should you have in your portfolio?
- What are the top 3 PORTFOLIO MISTAKES Candidates Make?
- What are the MOST IMPORTANT parts of a teaching portfolio?