Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to Make a Teacher Portfolio That Gets You the Job!

When you walk into an interview for a teaching job, you want to feel confident in your skills but also your ability to show them off!

In some careers, a resume’ listing experience might be enough, but in teaching, I think it’s a huge boon to go into an interview with a portfolio that really shows the details of that “elementary teacher” position you’ve had (or student teaching).

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

It’s been awhile since I added my On The Hunt for a Teaching Job series, but I know seeing others’ portfolios really helped me (especially as a new teacher!) so I want to share mine.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

For my portfolio, I picked up a professional binder. Yes, it’s expensive, but you want the cover to say, “I’m credible and you need to look at me!” I used a pre-made Word template to make a cover page and added a photo of me with my class as well as my contact information.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

In the pocket, I include a resume, and the inside has a matching cover page that works sort of like an informal cover letter.  I started with my favorite teaching quote, and used it as a springboard to describe my passion for teaching. I didn’t  rehash my resume’ here- but instead wanted to get them interested in me.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

(Note: Please feel free to use something similar, but please DON’T copy exactly what I wrote. You want it to be unique to YOU!)

Another option is to make a brochure. This is really great to leave after an interview, especially if it has a picture so they remember which face goes with which name!

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

Inside, I use dividers to make it clear where I can find certain things. Notice that I said “I can find,” not “the administrator can find.” Administrators may never ask to see your portfolio or have time to do much with it, but if you happen to be in for an interview, a portfolio can be SO helpful! You can see my dividers here, now that I have a few years of experience:

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

Here, you can see my dividers before my last update, when I hadn’t taught in my own classroom.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

In the past, I just stuck in pages of things I’d done. Most were printed out worksheets, assessments, parent notes, etc. And that was okay, but this time around I decided to show a little more.

One HUGE benefit of blogging is that I take lots more pictures of the things going on in my classroom. So, for instance, when I wanted to show my creative lessons, ta – da!

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

I wanted to showcase classroom management, and again, I already had the photos. It’s a great way to not just tell what I would do, but show it. I want principals to be able to imagine me and my classroom in their school!

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

I still kept examples of work and other things behind each section, but these pages made it look really polished.

Even if you’re not going to post them on a blog, I’d recommend finding a cheap point-and-shoot camera (or even a smartphone, if you have one) to take photos of your classroom and projects you do. It really helps when a principal wants to imagine you not in a suit, sitting in the office, but in classroom working with students.

What’s really great about these pages is that you can print another copy (or go to FedEx Office for more color copies if you just have way too much money) and leave a mini-portfolio at schools without having to leave your nice binder. I used these mini-portfolios when I dropped off resume’s in person, too!

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

When you consider what to include, make sure you think about the basics (classroom management, reading, math, engaging instruction, differentiation, assessment and data, organization), but don’t forget to include a section with your credentials and any honors/ certificates/ professional development/ licenses you may have! (Page protectors will keep you from having to hole punch those important papers.)

Think about what makes you unique as a teacher. When they say, “What are your strengths?,” what will you show them?

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

Don’t be afraid to make it unique and bright! For some other professions, you might not want to add color or any element of cute, but I think as long as it looks professional, colorful works really well for standing out.

If you’re new here, be sure you check out the rest of this series and my new teacher tips!

new teacher guide logo

Next in the On The Hunt series: How to Stand Out (Even Before a Teaching Interview)
Teaching Job Hunt Tips

Thanks for visiting!

58 comments:

  1. Great info! I made sure that I brought photos with me on my interview and I think it made a big difference.

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

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  2. Thanks! I can't wait to make my own :)

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  3. Thank you so much!! I start my final internship in January and certainly start building this as I progress through my internship! Thank you so much

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  4. This is fantastic! I am an art teacher so visuals are good for me. I'm wondering if you have any tips on helping stand out in an online application world? I have applied for a dozen art jobs and no response back from any schools! Obviously I'm missing something :)
    Thanks
    Andrea

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  5. Your portfolio is amazing! Thank you for sharing it. How did you create your letter and the printouts with the photos? They are impressive, but I don't know how to do anything like that.

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  6. This is awesome! I graduate this month and this will be really helpful!

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  7. This is very, very useful information and unique! Many people think about the tips for when you start, but not how to land the job itself! And a teaching interview is so different than the average job interview. Thank you!!

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  8. Would you recommend an online portfolio? I really like doing things online, is it worth the time?

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    1. Hi Steffane! I had an online portfolio through my education program, and I honestly don't know that anyone ever looked at it. I do think having an online portfolio, especially if it's in an attention-grabbing format like a Prezi, could be helpful for an administrator to look at when considering you for an interview or after the fact to help make their decision, but I think it only MAY get looked at. Unless you plan to bring in a digital device with you to the interview, I still think it's valuable to have a physical portfolio to help you show visuals for what you mean while you talk. Hope that helps!

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  9. Thanks for the helpful information on creating a colorful and professional teaching portfolio. I am currently working towards obtaining my teaching certificate and Masters in Education. My program allows me the opportunity to spend the entire school year in my practicum classroom where I will be taking over as lead teacher in a few short weeks! I will be modifying and personalizing the great ideas you have here to make a portfolio to represent me.

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  10. i love it... :) working on mine in the near future

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  11. Thank you so much! This is incredibly helpful :)

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  12. I love the idea of a brochure What highlights did you include in it since it is small and not much space to say everything.

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    1. Thanks! The front had my picture and contact info, and then the three middle sections had education/ work experience, some of my strengths with photos, and my references and their contact info. I also made sure to put my license info on there somewhere so they knew what I was qualified to do :) Basically... just tried to put the quick highlights, and some visuals to help them remember who I was from the interview!

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    2. Thanks! Did you use a certain program/software to create it? I would really like to make one, but I am not tech-savvy at all and have no idea how or where to start.

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    3. I used Microsoft Word (although I've also used Publisher in the past). If you go to File, and then New in Word, it will bring up options of templates and you can choose Brochures. I changed mine around somewhat from there, but it helped me get started! :) Good luck!

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  13. When will you post the next post in this series? Want to know more about that rainbow folder on the bottom of the post!!

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  14. This is super helpful. Wasn't sure if there were still doing portfolios since it's been awhile since I job searched. I appreciate your thorough post.

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  20. I recently completed my student teaching, and this page was so helpful in getting my portfolio organized. I made a HUGE online teacher portfolio as part of my graduation requirements, and I struggled to figure out how to condense it for an interview. Your information (and all of your pictures!) really helped.
    Thank you!

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  21. As a new graduate, I greatly appreciate this page! It helped me pull together a great portfolio. I already had an online one, but I really do not see the principals visiting the webpage often. At least with one in hand, I can show the principal right at the interview.

    I went to two interviews at two schools yesterday. Both principals LOVED the portfolio. 30 minutes after the last interview, I GOT THE JOB! Definitely feel that the portfolio really helped.

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  22. This is perfect for a new teacher right out of a training program. I've found that once you have some experience under your belt, most potential employers (at least here in Massachusetts) pass on seeing a portfolio. They prefer to spend their time listening to the experiences you have to share. Perhaps it's regional, too?

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    1. Mrs. Wyman, Thanks for stopping by! I think I mentioned this in the post, but this portfolio wasn't really for me to give to the administrators to look through. Instead, it was for me to reference during the interview to show examples. I still talked about my experiences (even when I was a new teacher just out of the training program), but this was a great supplement to it. I didn't have any principals ask to see it on their own or to keep it after the interview, but I still think it was valuable for me to have to show them specific things as I answered their questions. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  23. I love this post. Where did you find those folders? This is something I am very interesting in completing.

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    1. You can find them here (affiliate link)- http://amzn.to/1RND0wk :) Thanks for reading!

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  24. I m from Greece and sorry for my ''poor'' english...
    I want to thank you so much for sharing your work for the portfolio!
    I m also a teacher, I m working without the fear of loosing my job but from this year I have to create my own portfolio to show whenever it needs.
    So, thanks again for the help! <3

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  26. Hey Jenny. I've been on lots of hiring teams over my years of teaching and I can tell you that we're always looking for a great team member with excellent people skills. Your enthusiasm seems contagious and your portfolio showcases your ability to organize and teach. I love it!
    Heather from Mrs. Renz’ 4th Grade Class

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  27. Why did you put your schedule behind "creative lesson plans"?

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    1. Hi Cassie! Since that was the section about my lesson plans, my lesson plan format seemed to make the most sense there- even though I know it doesn't really show the creative part!

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  28. Jenny,
    I love your blog! You post such wonderful and useful information. I especially enjoy the photographs throughout your posts because it helps me, not only see an example, but get ideas for my own portfolio and classroom. However, I do have a question for you - what did you include in your mini-portfolio?

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    1. My mini-portfolio included copies of my "top 5" printed pages (the ones with the orange!) and a copy of my resume. It was nice to be able to print it out and not need to worry about getting it back because it was all extra copies, and not originals of important documents!

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  29. I love this! I am just starting out trying to find a teaching job, I would love to see the whole portfolio, it is hard to know what to include and if I am on the right track. I literally need examples.

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    1. Sorry, Anna- a lot of my examples show either student faces or personal information that I'm not able to share with you.

      I did have these sections:
      - Classroom Management & Setup
      - Creative Lesson Plans
      - Assessment and Data
      - Parent Communication
      - Integrated Units
      - Science Expertise
      - Evaluations
      - Important Documents

      In the first few sections, I created one of those sheets with the orange heading and a few pictures to summarize what I have done in the past. Then, I tried to put a few examples- so, for instance, example newsletters and parent emails in Parent Communication or examples of how I tracked data or assessed students or showed growth in Assessment and Data.

      Your sections might be different based on what your experience is. You can see that just out of college, my experience was a little more limited and I had different categories. After I had taught a few years, I updated it to reflect what I felt were my strengths but also what I felt I had to share :) Hope that helps!

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  30. Hi Jenny,
    This has been very helpful. One question, What did you include in your brochure? How did you organize it? I am having a difficult time deciding what information exactly to include and where to include it.
    Thank You!

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    1. Hi Michelle! On the front, I had a picture, a quote, and my contact information. Inside, I had a section for Education and Licensure, a section for experience, and a generic mini- letter of introduction telling about me and what I enjoy most about teaching. On the back, I included my references and their contact information. Hope that helps!

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    2. That helps so much! Thank you for sharing and helping others with your expertise, it is so much appreciated!

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  31. I love the brochure idea! Would that take the place of a traditional cover letter and resume?

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    1. No! It's still important to have those, especially because many online applications (which almost every school does now) will ask for them. I just found that it was nice to leave after the interview and was something a little different that might stand out!

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  32. This is absolutely amazing! Thank you for sharing. I have a quick question for you. How did you incorporate your strengths into that section? Did you write a short paragraph, bullet points, or something different? I want to incorporate this section for sure, but I am not sure how to jump start it without looking like a college paper. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks for reading! I wrote bullet points with a sentence or two to explain each one :) But I think you should do whatever feels natural to you! I hate bragging on myself, so bullet points highlighting my experience was a little easier for me!

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  33. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing; it's going to help me tremendously. You mentioned a mini-portfolio and I think that would be the ideal thing for me to bring to a job fair. What all did you include in the mini-portfolio? Thanks:)

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    1. Hi Sammy! For the mini-portfolio, I wanted it to be a sample of the portfolio that I could copy and give away- so the pages with the photos on the right and the orange title bar at the top, I just printed a few of those (5-6 of the most important topics) with a copy of my resume' on top.

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  34. Hi Jennifer- do you remember where you purchased your professional binder? I'm having trouble finding one I like. Thanks! -Pamela

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    1. Hi Pamela! I think it's here: http://amzn.to/1RND0wk

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  35. The one major thing I noticed was that the tabs were handwritten. That detracts from the professionalism that is usually the end goal with portfolios. Avery Tabs and Templates are not that expensive and elevate it aesthetically to the next level.

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    1. Thanks for your suggestion! For me, I did want to use color to make the sections easier to navigate. My primary goal was for me to navigate through the portfolio during an interview, though... if you're looking to submit the portfolio directly to administrators, typing would definitely be worth considering! Worked for me, though :)

      Jenny

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  37. Brilliant! This just helps me a lot. I'll use your brochure and mini-portfolio idea. Thanks for sharing :-)

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  38. I need help with a portfolio. Im in school getting my CDA. And I have make one for homework. I need help making one. Can someone please help

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  39. i really like the brochure. what all did you put in it?

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    1. Thanks! The front had my picture and contact info, and then the three middle sections had education/ work experience, some of my strengths with photos, and my references and their contact info. I also made sure to put my license info on there somewhere so they knew what I was qualified to do :) Basically... just tried to put the quick highlights, and some visuals to help them remember who I was from the interview!

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