Professional Teaching Portfolios, What Should They Look Like?

I use Keynote on the iOS platform and navigate my digital portfolio using my iPhone as a remote.

As a second-year graduate teacher, it is around this time of year that I see a lot of activity on my social networks related to final teaching rounds and preparation for new graduates who will be seeking a job the following year. Lately I’ve become hung up on the obsession that some universities have with the creation of a huge portfolio that graduates are encouraged to take to each interview they successfully apply for.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the creation of a document that promotes reflection upon successful completion of a Bachelor’s (or similar) Degree in Education, and I’ll list some of those reasons below. However, I also think that there are some other things to stop and consider before potentially spending hours on a static document that will rapidly pass its use by date.

Firstly, here’s what I like about the concept of a professional portfolio:

  • As I mentioned, by curating a portfolio, new graduates can spend valuable time reflecting on the pedagogy and experience that their degree has delivered;
  • Becoming fluent with terms associated with professional practice allows candidates to practice responses to questions if they are lucky enough to be short-listed for an interview;
  • There is a huge sense of pride and achievement associated with constructing a document that reflects what you have done, what you are capable of and where your true passions lie.

Now, the parts that I’m hung up on:

  • As with any aspect of teaching and learning: practice, knowledge and curriculum are constantly changing. Too many portfolios seem to be static documents which leave little room for updating. Anything representing your professional capacity as an educator should be open to change.
  • They are bulky and difficult to navigate.
  • The general consensus among the interviewing panel members (in my experience) is that they rarely have time to look through a portfolio.

I’m not against the idea of collating professional knowledge and experience, the very opposite! In fact, visual arts teachers rely very heavily on hard copy portfolios of work for obvious reasons. However, I am just trying to encourage people to think about how they go about it.

For example, digital portfolios have many advantages:

  • If you do a great job, they also show your capacity as an ICT educator – a highly sought quality in teachers;
  • There are a number of amazing, innovative publishing alternatives (Prezi is a must see!);
  • It is inclusive of engaging, digital media (such as photographs andvideos) that have a huge potential to showcase your various talents;
  • It can be showcased from a variety of different platforms; including iPad, projectors, laptops, Skype and much more;
  • It is a live document that can easily be shared, edited and updated for every purpose – this is my most valued aspect.

I hope this post proves useful to those currently updating their professional resources, and I welcome any comments or thoughts in the space below.

Cheers,

Teddy.


2 Comments on “Professional Teaching Portfolios, What Should They Look Like?”

  1. Sam Jones says:

    Hi Teddy,

    Totally agree with your points here!!

    On PGCE’s we are constantly being told to reflect on why were on this pathway and what we want in and out of life itself along side teaching!
    As people we are constantly changing, growing and learning….. As technology advances so do we and education is following the same path!

    It’s becoming increasingly normal to use Facebook, twitter, blogs etc in everyday life and these facilities should be utilised to help educate and shape the learned in this world!

    Lets take Facebook- you update your daily and life changing events, add videos and photos, share ideas and critiques of others lives…… This should be captured and used to create a framework for any kind of professional documentation!
    Think outside the box, what makes you a good Teacher or Educator? That your willing to accept you don’t know everything, that your still learning and open to change!
    As you say create a portfolio that can move with you through the next 20 years, make it stand out and be as creative as you can!

    Great ideas Teddy…….

    • Teddy Mercer says:

      It was great to read your positive comments, Sam, thank you!

      Your points about reflection are totally valid, and I guess that’s where I’m coming from with regards to a dynamic portfolio that grows with us as practitioners.

      Thanks again, I look forward to reading more of your comments on future posts!

      Teddy.


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