A teacher’s portfolio is your chance to tell your story in a compelling way. It gives you the extra space to showcase your successes and highlight letters of acknowledgement and evaluations. Review committees and assessors typically receive dozens of portfolios with similar teaching philosophy statements organized into similar layouts. Not only do many packets look alike, but committee members rarely have the time to review each one in its entirety. It’s up to you to make sure yours stands out. As portfolios are called for with greater frequency, you will want to consider ways in which you can set yourself apart. Content, of course, is king but a thoughtful design can also go a long way.
Presentation matters. Most assessors conclude that today’s 21st century teacher must understand how to use and present e-portfolios. E-portfolios are not only more accessible, they can be easily linked to a social media sites and resumes. They also offer greater flexibility in presentation through videos and screencasts, which demonstrate that you know how to deliver information in an engaging way. Such products offer insight into your teaching ability and indicate that you know how to share your knowledge with a broad audience. More importantly, it can serve as a tie-breaker. If someone is considering two candidates and a google search returns dozens of blog hits and YouTube demonstrations for one applicant and nothing for the other, then one candidate will have a distinct advantage.
To get started, consider the products you already have to work with. Then give thought to the way in which each item fits together and try to link fragmented pieces with a unifying style and color scheme. This is your chance to create something that articulates your goals and approaches while demonstrating your creativity and technical ability as a teacher.
Teacher portfolio goals. You will also want to carefully define the portfolio’s goals. Portfolio types include growth-focus (developmental portfolio); best works (showcase); or total output for a period of time (comprehensive portfolio). Because teachers must meet specific standards established by state or regional mandates or by the agencies responsible for teacher accreditation, educational portfolios should demonstrate how you meet these standards. The teacher’s portfolio should also reflect the individual: it is in fact a qualitative method of assessing the teacher. The e-portfolio may be compiled on a logical CORP (collection, organization, reflection and presentation) model. The way the teacher chooses to organize the portfolio can show critical thinking, student-centered teaching methods and overall authenticity.
Include your students. Consider adding in student work, which is of course and an extension of your work. Let’s use a creative writing teacher as an example. We can start with the writing process, which organizes itself into five stages, including: 1) pre-write (gather information and research needed to write); 2) draft (prepare a draft document using pre-write materials); 3) revision (make necessary corrections, especially after requesting feedback from others); 4) edit (reorganize writing flow; make spelling and grammar corrections; proofread); and 5) share and publish (print hard copies or share with others in online and electronic reader formats). The creative writing teacher could select examples of writing at each stage to demonstrate that students engaged in creative writing embraced and took ownership of their work. This example would demonstrate student progress through each stage. The written work, in some cases published in a newspaper or e-book, then shows how the teacher inspired students to reach for specific writing goals. This heuristic, holistic thought process shows how the teacher thinks and allows others (assessors) to perform a qualitative assessment of process and output.
Free e-portfolio resources for teachers. VisualCV is a free resource for teacher e-portfolios. Although many individuals use VisualCV to publish their body or work/portfolio online, teachers report how easy VisualCV is to use. VisualCV provides an online portfolio page on which to post the teacher’s curriculum vitae, along with presentations, teaching examples, images, videos or photos. Employers support VisualCV by paying for job posts in VisualCV’s database. VisualCV presents a professional appearance suitable for teachers of any subject. Sharing the teacher’s e-portfolio is simple: the teacher provides a link to his educational e-portfolio on a CV, letter, email, etc.
Coroflot portfolios. Coroflot.com’s portfolio site allows professionals from many disciplines to post an online portfolio. Although Coroflot is used by many creative artists, teachers with a visual portfolio or concentration like the site. Coroflot does not charge users a fee to post a portfolio.
PortfolioGen. PortfolioGen is a portfolio site created specifically for teachers by teachers. It’s free and allows for video embeds. After uploading materials onto your page, teachers may share a unique URL with others. You can also partner with them if you want to help students create clean, modern e-portfolios of their own.