20 July 2013

NAILED IT part 1: the portfolio

* you can even do this before you even begin officially applying*

Alright, you've got a nice stack of fan mail reference letters. But where to put them...?

CREATE A PORTFOLIO. Not a scrapbook, not a autobiography, definitely not anything much thicker than a 1/2 inch binder. With all due respect, these people probably don't care about you that much yet, so they probably aren't going to want to read more than about a page at a time. You want a couple of things that really describe who you are as a teacher and highlight the skills that make you stand out! I'd recommend that the contents of your portfolio include:

  • a cover letter (addressed to the principal/school you are applying to)
  • a resume
  • 2-3 reference letters
  • 2-3 artifacts (lesson plans, pictures of bulletin boards, student work) 

There are some tutorials and examples of resumes for teachers here and here, and similar resources for teacher cover letter layouts here and here. We talked about reference letters in the last post. The artifacts should be something you are proud of, something that shows skills that relate to your educational philosophy, and something that is unique to you, but aren't super lengthy

For example, my girl, Al had pictures of student work created in lessons that she lead directly during student teaching, and copies of parent contact forms that she created. She also took a fun 1.5 page lesson plan for 2nd grade that integrated diversity, bullying prevention, and reading/writing strategies. It showcased her ability to
  • write a plan in the Madeline Hunter style 
  • teach in whole group and small group settings
  • align TEKS, lesson objectives, and lesson assessments together in a logical fashion
If you have runner-up artifacts, additional info that could help your case, etc. I would make a note of that in your portfolio by stating "additional [whatever you have] upon request". A great way to do this is to create an online portfolio. I have one that highlights my strengths as experiences as related to the INTASC standards, and left the link to it on my cover letter.

Finally, I'm sure this is painfully obvious, but you should know your portfolio VERY WELL and be able to discuss the items in it at length if necessary. You might practice this discussion out loud when you practice your questions!

Here's a bummer of a secret- the interview committee may not even want to see your portfolio. But in Al's initial interview, they did. And in the chance that they do for you, it's great to be prepared and provides a way for all of your job hunt materials to be organized.

So now you have a portfolio... Check back on Tuesday to find out what to do next!

Veteran Teachers, please weigh in! What did you bring to your interview? What would you recommend? 


  1. I am a special ed teacher in CA...love your blog- have you found a special ed teaching job? Laura

    1. Thank ya ma'am! I have! I'll be a kind of "jack-of-all-trades" special Ed teacher for PK-5th at a tiny elementary school. These are the steps I took to get my job. (:

      Looking forward to reading through your blog- looks like you have tons of awesome experience and wisdom!