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Professional Employment Portfolios for Educators

A professional portfolio is a tangible collection of items that illustrates the best examples of your most relevant skills and experiences and charts your professional growth. While a resume is a document that states what you can do, a portfolio enables you to demonstrate examples of your qualifications. The process of creating your portfolio is just as valuable as the product. It helps you determine who you are, what you like to do, what you do best, and how you want to present yourself to your targeted audience. It is a valuable tool that you can use throughout your career to: assess your professional development, interview effectively, negotiate job offers, prepare for performance appraisals, navigate career transitions, and track professional growth. Employers value tangible proof.

Creating a Portfolio
Step 1: Collecting
This is an on-going process. Identify and collect evidence of your skills and experience from: Activities Projects Volunteer work Education Community service Experiences abroad Training Accomplishments Participation in student organizations Employment Tutoring Courses/Student teaching Where do you find items? Rummage through your documents at school, work and home. Consult your calendar, how is your time spent? Are there certain projects you work on at certain times of the year? Review past and current job descriptions. How can you demonstrate the roles, tasks and activities you performed in those positions? Design your ideal job description and gear your portfolio toward it. If you do not have evidence of your past accomplishments, you may want to consider reconstructing items. This may involve redesigning documents or creating new items that demonstrate your skills and expertise. Which items are best? Recent examples are usually preferred, but the most important documents are those that are relevant. Look for ways to show who you are as a person or a leader, your experience, your education and training, that you possess certain skill sets, that you saved money or time, came up with innovative ideas, solved problems, were involved, and demonstrated initiative. Quality is always more important than quantity. Make sure to obtain permission to use work samples, and delete proprietary or confidential information.

Step 2: Sorting
Typical elements of a portfolio: Title page Table of contents Resume Reference list Transcripts Performance evaluations Certifications Honors and awards

Letters of recommendation Research papers Presentations Group projects

The most effective portfolios are those that are targeted to the job or industry being sought. Take some time to carefully analyze your audience. What qualities, skills, experiences, involvements, and knowledge are wanted when hiring? Use a job description as a filter to sort your items into relevant skill/experience categories. Do not throw away items that you filter out. Keep them in a file box or binder in case you need them later. Use only pieces that prove you have the skills that the job requires.

Step 3: Assembling
Supplies you will need: Something to store your work samples in Clear sheet protectors

Professional-looking zippered binder Divider tabs

After you have sorted your items into targeted skill and experience categories, place your portfolio contents into sheet protectors and group similar items together. In each section, lead with your strengths because the goal is to be able to quickly find what you are looking for when presenting your portfolio. Create section divider pages and tabs: summary pages can be used at the beginning of each section to provide an overview of skills and experiences. Mission, values, and goal statements are optional, but can greatly enhance your portfolio. Use high quality paper for layout pages and strive for consistency and a professional visual identity throughout. Your portfolio should not resemble a first-grade scrapbook project. Color and photos can add interest. Photos can be scanned or mounted onto card stock. Some documents are stand alone artifacts, meaning they do not need any explanation to someone reviewing the item-such as a transcript (unless you need to explain why you received certain grades). For those that are not stand alone, you will need to develop captions to communicate their relevancy. Brief captions should clearly state what you did or learned, highlighting results and accomplishments. Begin your captions with action verbs to avoid overusing the word I.

Step 4: Using your Portfolio in the Interview

The best portfolio in the world will not help you if you do not use it efficiently. The most effective method is to use the portfolio to enhance your answers during the interview. This way, you are not just telling the employer how great you are; you are showing proof! Before the Interview: Thoroughly research the organization and position. Visit the schools website to learn more about their mission and values, the history of the organization, the culture and future trends. Construct 10-15 specific examples that target the schools needs for the position. Use the STAR Technique for your examples; this is a model for constructing good examples and stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. Know your portfolio; be able to quickly locate items that back up each of your STARs Visit Career Services to practice using your portfolio in a mock interview with a Career Counselor or Peer Advisor. During the Interview: Do not push your portfolio at the beginning or end of the interview because it is important to develop rapport with the interviewer. Expect to use your portfolio 2-4 times throughout the course of the interview, it is important not to overuse it because you want the focus to remain on you and your qualifications, not your portfolio How to use your portfolio: 1. Respond to the question you are asked, providing a specific example using the STAR Technique 2. Inform the interviewer(s) that you have an example to share, remove the individual item and hand it to him/her, and close your portfolio leaving it unzipped for future use 3. Explain the relevance of the document and pass the artifact around so everyone can review it 4. Let all the examples collect and put them back in your portfolio at the end of the interview After the interview, do not leave your portfolio behind. Instead you might want to create a mini portfolio to leave behind.

STAR Technique - Prove by Example!

An increasing number of schools use behavioral-based interviewing, which rests on the premise that past performance predicts future performance. Past performance examples may come from work experience, student teaching, observation hours, volunteer work, family life, etc. Prepare for the interview by having several different STARs in mind.

Situation: Task: Action: Result:

Describe the specific situation. Set up your story. What was the task you were trying to accomplish? Tell who, what, when, where, and why (include only relevant details!). What did you do to solve the problem or meet the task?

Specify results. What happened? Give numbers, volume, dollars, etc. Link the skills you were demonstrating in this example to the specific job. Tell how the employer is going to benefit from hiring you.

Your student teaching experience included a large amount of time working one-on-one with populations of diverse and at-risk students. Tell me about how this experience changed your philosophy of teaching. Situation My student teaching placement was at St. Paul Central High school in St. Paul, Minnesota. Task Part of the time I was at Central, I was asked to work individually with five diverse and at-risk students who were having a difficult time mastering the concepts of their Algebra class. Action I met with the teacher to determine the specific areas where the students needed extra attention. From that point I developed a course of study that provided reinforcement in basic concepts, differentiated methods of teaching Algebra, and time for students to do examples and ask questions that would increase their understanding.. Result As a result, all five of the students improved their general math scores at the end of the semester and had a better understanding of the basic concepts of algebra. Three of the students were also able to take concepts that we had worked on together and use them to successfully pass the mathematics portion of the Minnesota Basic Standards test. I understand that part of my job as a teacher will often be to adapt my curriculum to meet the needs of students with different levels of understanding. My experience working with this population has increased my comfort level with students of this sort and has helped me to develop a great number of useful tools and adaptations to help make them successful.

Sample Sections and Artifacts

Resume Copy of your diploma Transcripts Teacher license

Innovative ideas & activities Examples of adapting lessons for special needs students Individualized plans Appreciation for diversity, ability to develop rapport with a wide array of students

Reference Letters:
Letters from cooperating teachers Letters from faculty Letters from parents of students Letters/cards from students Letters from former employers

Meeting agenda or minutes Job/position description of position of a committee you served on Brochure of a leadership conference attended Program of an event for members of a professional organization Letter of nomination

Philosophy of education Classroom management plan Discipline guidelines Pedagogy

Subject Knowledge: Planning/Organizing/Creativity:

Curriculum & unit plans Themed studies Lesson plans Event planning- field trips Seating arrangements Bulletin boards Cooperative learning strategies Lessons, assignments, projects & activities that demonstrate content knowledge

Coaching, advising, & tutoring Volunteer/community service Involvement with children Camp counselor roles Advisory boards

Explanation of grading system Sample tests & assignments

Awards Certificates, letters, photos

Technology in the Classroom:

Educational software SMART Board

Professional Development:
Professional memberships; leadership roles Publications Conferences attended Goal statements Meetings & workshops

Letters to parents, progress reports Parent/teacher conferences

Sample Portfolio Artifacts

Section Divider