Building a career portfolio for a newcomer into a sector like education is crucial to success. Portfolios do not have to be for the public eye, but rather for yourself, to store important documents, and for use as a reflection of your own goals and progress. As a newcomer into the field of education myself, I have found we’re constantly thrown a wealth of knowledge daily, and a grand amount of resourceful tools which can often be forgotten if not written somewhere. For those who are new to the field of education, or are preparing to enter it, it is important to keep a well-organized and creative portfolio, for yourself, and also for easily preparing for future job opportunities.
Tips for a Successful Career Portfolio
1. Divide your portfolio
Keep Clear dividers between “your resources” and “interview material”. This will make finding resources to take into your interview much less stressful and time consuming.
2. Keep your documentation
Keep all important documents, such as notes from Professional Development workshops, or proof of attendance and successful completion. -Note: Also, participate in as many workshops as possible to gain as much knowledge. I vividly remember walking into my first long term position interview, and being asked how many PD workshops had I attended. Boy, was I glad I could list a couple with the experiences I had gained from them. Principals like to have staff on their team who take the initiative to learn and expand their skills. Moreover, some of the workshops are not only useful, but pretty expensive if taken outside of the board!
3. Collect ideas
Take notes of creative ideas other staff have used throughout their classroom, and develop your own style. Don’t be afraid to ask! There have been a number of times where I have seen something eye-catching but had no idea what it was about. Teachers love being told their way of showcasing student work or behavior management strategies are interesting- and they love being able to explain what it’s all about.
4. Keep your notes
If you begin your career as a supply, I urge you to keep a collection of a copy of your well – written notes to the person for whom you are in. This is a tool you can always pull up at your interview, illustrating a sense of attention to detail and ability to effectively communicate to coworkers.
5. Save your applications
Keep a “resume and cover letter bank” of hard copy versions of applications you have sent out to different schools. This is a great way to track your progress when going to apply to other schools later. Compare the resume you used when applying to the school you were a successful candidate at, with one you were not. See the differences and learn from it. As well, having a resume bank allows you to choose the most relevant experiences to the position to which you are applying. Although it can be a tedious and dreadful task, make sure to tailor each resume and cover letter to the specific role.
6. Keep more than lesson plans
That being said, if you’re able to stay a week or longer in a school, you develop a strong rapport with the students and often implement different behavior management strategies, without even realizing it! If possible, find a way to write it out. Keep it. Add it to your collection. In your permanent position interview, it is likely the interviewer will ask you of how you manage behavior within a classroom. This is the perfect opportunity for you to pull out your behavior management technique and illustrate how you implemented it and how it was or was not successful. For example, my first week in one of my first schools was quite the roller coaster ride. I was working with a group of grade 7 students, primarily with behavior, and ODD, who loved to push limits. After the first day of getting to know them better, I developed a behavior management rewards chart, so that they worked towards positive behavior to attain a prize at the end of the week.
7. Go beyond the classroom
Extra-curricular activities. Join and volunteer! This is a great way to network with other staff members and build a great rapport with your team, but also getting involved in your school can land you the dream job! Principals like to see staff who are rocking school spirit and getting students involved. Find what your passion lies in, take charge and show school initiative! Make sure you keep a collection of any events or clubs in which you get involved.
Networking and building friendships are two fundamental pieces to your success as an educator. Networking not only allows you to meet people in the same field as you, but it also helps you to build connections with people, and realize how connected everyone really is, and that can definitely help you in determining where you’d like to go.
What tips do you have for developing your career portfolio as an educator? Let us know your ideas in the comments below.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Daniel Y. Go.