Portfolio Basics

I have a portfolio…do you?  Because if you don’t, you should probably get started soon.  Anymore, a resume and letters won’t cut it and I can tell you this from experience.  It’s just not enough.  Interviews, especially in teaching, are getting more in depth and not everything gets said or covered in the time allowed, whether or not it’s for a job, award, or leadership role.

So how to you keep interest outside of the interview or extend the interview to go beyond the time you have allowed?

portfoliobasicsVery easy – a portfolio.

Now, hold the phone teachers – do not just pull out your Standards Portfolio and say, bam, gotcha covered.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  While Teaching Standards are valuable and showing off how we meet them can help your case, it’s lengthy and doesn’t hit every point you have to sell, so tear it down and start from scratch.  This year, I really developed my portfolio.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know where to start so I just tried to take note and pay attention to all of the things that are most important in my career.  And of course, I’m not an expert on anything but my portfolio has been viewed by  many and has gotten me steps further than I could be – so either take my advice, or leave it. 🙂

Here is what I’ve learned to do when making a portfolio:

1. Include your photograph on your cover page.  Schools and companies interview people constantly – how are they going to remember you? Simple, attach your photo to a folder full of goodies and they will always connect your face with those goodies.

2. Organize it in a way that is easy and simple to use.  Have a designated header for title pages and a layout similar between all pages so the flow of reading through things stays constant.

3. Don’t use a template you can find in any old program…as easy as these are, whoever you are hiring has probably seen it before.  Using new color schemes, shapes, and layouts tend to catch more attention.  The more original, the more you will be remembered.

4. Refresh your resume because it’s time to get noticed.  Take your resume and do what you can to not only keep it to the point, but make it stand out with info graphics and bold colors or fonts.  Again, templates are seen every day – so make one up yourself.

5. Highlight the best qualities for the particular job or leadership role you are seeking.  If you throw every bit of information in there, you are going to overload the viewers and they won’t know where to start.  So keep it simple and stick to five major headings (or so).

My Five Sections (for teachers)
I have five sections in my portfolio that especially showcase my qualities.  They may not be the best for you but I believe them to be some of the more essential qualities that administrators looks for.

For art teachers, our number one quality should be our curriculum.  While this is important for all teachers, some will be handed a defined curriculum that they must follow (bummer for you) but for the arts and electives, we have a chance to show our creative side and what lessons we teach successfully.  So definitely include some material that will beef up your curriculum.  If curriculum isn’t really established because you’re new or it’s already made by some company out west, then highlight your teaching strategies like project based learning, flipped classroom, student led environments, and classroom discussions.  If an employer hasn’t seen your teaching in action, this is the best way to give them a clue to what you’re all about.

Assessment plays an important role in education today, a big one that means data and proof your students are learning so, simple, include it in your portfolio – either examples of data (I do this and administrators always comment on it) as well as the rubrics, assessments, and tools you use to help students be successful.  Data is essential – especially for art programs so if you have some, include it.  Did I say that already? I would again – seriously, administrators who are constantly looking at data, want to see your proof of data. Furthermore, classroom management is a strong point in your career, or it should be.  Provide examples of how you manage your class and curriculum so that viewers can get a sense of your teaching skills without actually seeing you teach (a lot of times, you don’t have the chance to teach for interviews, promotions, or awards).

The last two have gotten me far in the last 4 years and I think anyone that participates in similar activities can agree.  Your Professional life is important – what affiliations do you have? Do you participate in any leadership roles? What outside teaching adventures have you participated in?  What awards have you received or been nominated for (yes,share your nominations because that alone is an accomplishment). Lastly, I showcase all publications, presentations and advocacy roles using a PR section; I just call mine Publications.  Include screenshots or thumbnails of your work, links to your work, access to your videos – anything that can show them how not only are they looking at a professional, but one who is active in society as that professional.

What do you once you have your portfolio? (What do I do?) Print a copy…the longer the portfolio, the more to read so keep it simple and stick the best artifacts for your career.  Double side the portfolio to make it seem slimmer.  But definitely include the best possible artifacts.  Take that copy to your colleagues and see what they think – have them share their opinion of the organization and artifacts included.  Once you have it exactly how you want, make plenty of copies for your adventures ahead…for every person you are trying to make an impact on, have a copy…of course, don’t hand it out like a book but when the occasion arises, let it show case your qualities.

Lastly, keep it updated.  You never know when you will need it.

What do you add to your portfolio? How do you make it your own?

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2 responses to “Portfolio Basics

  1. Pingback: Job Hunting When You Have a Job [You Love] | Art Class With LMJ·

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