Professional portfolios can often be overlooked when it comes to using them as a resource for tracking professional progress and demonstrating an educator’s classroom skillset. A portfolio might contain lesson plans, sample assignments, audio or video recordings of educators’ teaching style, as well as performance evaluations from supervisors and peers.
These portfolios can incorporate any type of materials that show who you are as an educator, explain your approach to teaching, and document your achievements. Additionally, they are effective tools during the job hunting process. Creating one can be an effective implementation for educators to document and showcase their professional 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.
When you’re ready to start assembling or updating your professional portfolio, keep the following 5 tips in mind:
1. Choose the Right Format
Your professional portfolio can be presented in various formats. If you want to incorporate audio and video content, consider creating a website to tell your professional story. If you 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 portfolio that outlines your personal/professional teaching philosophy. Nearly all prospective employers will ask you to explain your approach and how it guides your teaching with young children. Clearly defining your philosophy will also help you in choosing the right materials to add to your portfolio and support your 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. First, include a list of any courses and certifications you have completed to show your commitment to early childhood professional development. Aside from personal improvement, you can also demonstrate the improvement of children in your classroom by including assessments and examples of how your teaching has improved their performance/development.
5. Include Praise
Letters of recommendation, testimonials from parents, and supervisor evaluations are all effective pieces to add to your professional portfolio. Think about this tool as 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.