Teacher Interview Portfolios: Top Five “Must-Haves” & “Should-Haves”

Here’s a question via Twitter from our EDU Edge friend Benjamin Fiddler @Bfiddler, an aspiring teacher preparing for the teacher interview process.

“What are the most important things to include in my teacher interview portfolio?” 

Benjamin – Thanks for contacting the EDU Edge.  First of all, “Good for you Benjamin!”  Our consortium of administrators at The EDU Edge, has the feeling recently that the teaching portfolio has become something that is considered an “add-on” during teacher interviews. We think those that have this mind set are incorrect and moreover, we strongly recommend that no one should show up for a teacher interview without a portfolio.  From our experience, we can safely predict that the other candidates who meet with the interview team and who are competing with you for the job will bring one.  Make sure you have one.  These days, interview teams and principals expect to see candidate’s portfolios and will use them as a determination of your qualifications, even if they don’t look at them extensively, or at all, during the actual interview!

Top Five “Must-Haves” in Your Teacher Interview Portfolio

  1. Have your portfolio held together in some way that looks professional. We have seen actual print shop bindings, leather three ring binders, artist portfolio cases, etc. All are fine. And, be sure that your portfolio’s overall interior appearance is consistent and properly reflects the investment that the district or school would be making in you.
  2. Include an educational philosophy. We know what you’re saying … “Really?” Yes … trust us … do one!  Make it personal but brief and concise!
  3. Include your Resume or Curriculum Vitae.
  4. Five letters of recommendation. Make sure at least three of them have directly supervised you. The golden standard of reference letters are those that have been written by individuals who have supervised and evaluated you in the classroom (see Chapter 4 of The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview for a hierarchy of the best letters of recommendation to include).
  5. A plan on how you will leave your portfolio with the committee and how you will be able to get it back later OR a plan to provide each committee member a hard/electronic copy. We know this portfolio is a precious thing to you, but you are going to have to trust the committee with it and pick it up in a few hours or days if necessary. This may even give you another opportunity to informally speak with the principal when you pick it up.

Top Five “Should-Haves” in Your Teacher Interview Portfolio

We have seen some amazing and creative teachers come up with interesting ideas on how to present themselves through a portfolio. The ideas and options are endless. In education, there is no set way to do a portfolio so use your imagination and adapt it to your own personality.  You can find these and many more ideas in Chapter 12 – Portfolio Advice of The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview.

  1. Artifacts of student work. If possible, it is impressive to include the lesson plan, task that you created for the students, and the work that your student’s produced.
  2. Classroom observation documents/evaluations that you have received from an administrator. These, if you have them, can be very powerful.
  3. Statement about classroom management theory and the steps that you take inside your classroom to create a safe and orderly environment.
  4. Letters from parents commending the work you did with their children.
  5. Pictures, Pictures, Pictures!  We cannot emphasize the power of pictures enough when it comes to portfolios. During interviews, committee members are trying to get to know you and trying to envision you teaching. Don’t trust their imaginations to do so, give them pictures. Pictures bring it together for committee members and verify the reality that you are meant to work with children. For this reason we recommend photos or newspaper articles of you: teaching students in the classroom, with students on field trips, learning excursions or outside class activities, with children while you are serving in advisor roles, with your students at musical or athletic events, coaching or working with children in a coaching capacity, as a leader and role model.

Good luck to you Benjamin!  Good luck to all of you following The EDU Edge.  Please come back and let us know how you make out so we can all learn together. 

Yours in a Partnership in Learning,
The EDU Edge

(Please feel free to contact us with additional questions … we’re on Twitter, Facebook and you can email us at info@theEDUedge.com.  Tell us what interview obstacles you’re dealing with and trying to overcome.  We’ll do our best to respond and try our best to help you.)

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