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[Level-Up Your Teaching Game] | 5 Reasons Every [21st Century] Teacher Needs a Portfolio

Mar 16, 2019

So, why do I need a teaching portfolio?

Whether you're a newbie teacher or a seasoned vet, whether you are on the hunt for a new teaching position or not, a teaching portfolio is a tool that every 21st century teacher should have in his or her toolbox. 

If you don't have a teaching portfolio yet, here are 5 reasons why you should think about getting with the program :)

A [21st Century] teacher owns her [or his] craft.

 The first and most obvious reason for having a teaching portfolio is because it is evidence of your effectiveness. Collecting and keeping track of your teaching evidence means that you are owning your craft, you are taking ownership of this life-changing work you do.

In case you don't know, a teaching portfolio is a collection of evidence that demonstrates your unique teaching style and approach to educating...so it follows that it is the perfect tool to use as evidence of the magic you can create when you are in the classroom. 

If you are looking for a new job, this evidence is what ultimately sets you apart from the tens [or hundreds] of other candidates who are vying for the same position as you. It is the visual support to back up the claims you make during an interview.

Not on the hunt for a job? A teaching portfolio is still valuable to use for collecting your teaching evidence over time. Of course, you may decide to look for a new position in the future, in which case your portfolio will be ready to go. Or, at the very least, this evidence is super handy when it comes to reflecting on your practice and getting better at what you do. 

A [21st Century] teacher is tech savvy.

 When we talk about the difference between a teacher in the 20th century and a teacher in the 21st century, one major thing that can't be ignored is the difference in access to the tools we have available for teaching.

We are now living in a digital age, my friend, and this can't go un-utilized.

When you use digital tools in the process of creating a teaching portfolio, you are demonstrating your ability to use digital tools for improving your own achievement in the profession.

It just so happens that this is reflective of the very same thing you should be doing with your students. In the classroom, a 21st century teacher is utilizing digital tools to improve the engagement and achievement of students. 

Concerned that you aren't, in fact, as tech-savvy as you need to be to use digital tools in creating a teaching portfolio?

Fret no more because I've got you covered. Check out my Rockin' Teaching Portfolio e-course, where I walk you through [step-by-step] how to use digital tools to create a rockin' teaching portfolio.

A [21st Century] teacher is a lifelong learner.

 We all want to encourage our students to become lifelong learners. The best way we can do this is to model what it means to be a lifelong learner ourselves. 

And how can we do that?
Yep, you guessed it, a teaching portfolio.

By tracking your development over time, you are demonstrating your commitment to the profession and your growth within the profession.

Your teaching portfolio is a collection of your "data". Whether it's lesson plans, picture examples, evaluation forms, certificates, your teaching philosophy, and so on. This "data" is what you reflect on and use to improve in your craft.

Thus, the teaching portfolio is proof that you are using data to improve your practice.

If you are using your portfolio to think systematically about your practice and learn from your experiences, then you are showing what it means to be a lifelong learn and you, my friend, deserve a gold star for the day.

A [21st Century] teacher is prepared and ready to get down to biz.

This is personally one of my favorite reasons for having a teaching portfolio... it helps me feel prepared.

I don't know about you, but I'm the type of person that has a lot of ideas and things I want to share with other people, but I also have the memory of a goldfish and I get sidetracked like a dog who sees a squirrel. I tend to forget about things easily and sometimes my mind works more like a creative storm.

The ongoing use of a teaching portfolio provides me an opportunity to organize my thoughts and reflections in a visual way that makes sense for me, which also becomes useful when I am collaborating with others about my professional work.

I always feel prepared to share about my experiences and beliefs in teaching because I've given myself an outlet for truly thinking things through.

This is even more perfect for when you are trying to sell yourself as an educator and score a new teaching position.

A teaching portfolio provides you a way of selecting and organizing your ideas and demonstrates your ability to think critically about your experiences and beliefs in terms of education. This is exactly what potential employers want to see because it has a direct impact on your future teaching practice.

A [21st Century] teacher embodies the skills she [or he] wants to see in students.

 Imagine an ideal student to teach...what's he or she like?

Collaborates well with others? Shows commitment? Is organized? Creative? Demonstrates leadership? Takes initiative? Plans well? Reflects on prior experiences? Thinks critically? Shows an ability to be flexible? Good communication skills?

Guess what? These [21st century] qualities of an ideal student also happen to be qualities of an ideal 21st century teacher. 

Creating and keeping a teaching portfolio is demonstration of these qualities in action.

When you embody these qualities yourself, it is easier to cultivate them in your students. The most obvious way to teach the behaviors we want to see in our students is to model those behaviors ourselves.

Related: A Teacher's Guide to a Rockin' Teaching Portfolio

So now, let me field some of the "what ifs" that may be running through your mind...

✏️What if I'm a brand new, first year teacher? I don't have enough evidence or experience to put in a portfolio...

 I get it, I do. You're just embarking on your journey and you have little to go on at this point. You've got years in front of you where you will learn as you go and 3 years, 5 years, 10 years from now you will be a totally different teacher than you are right here in the beginning. But still, you need a teaching portfolio that will get your foot in the door [for all the reasons I mentioned above].

This was me. When I began my teaching portfolio, I was freshly graduated and on the hunt for my first teaching job. I had a ton of things I knew I wanted to try in my classroom, but I didn't have the experience or evidence yet to say whether these things worked for me and my students.

So I took advantage of what I did have... my ideas. I elaborated on my ideas and my intentions and what I planned to do in my future classroom. In doing this, I was still able to get as much benefit out of my teaching portfolio as someone who was more experienced. I was able to organize and think critically about my ideas. I was able to make a plan of action for every detail about my future classroom, which I felt fully prepared to talk about during interviews. And I was still demonstrating initiative, creativity, planning skills, and my commitment to the profession through my creation of the portfolio. 

✏️What if I'm not looking for a new teaching position right now? I don't need to assemble one until I need it...

Let me stop you right there. By now, hopefully, you've read the reasons why every 21st century should have a teaching portfolio. And since you're a 21st century teacher, you know I've been talking to you throughout this post.

But let me also say, besides the reasons I gave and the fact that this is an ongoing tool to use for your development and improvement as a professional, you really never know when the day may come that you're ready for a change.

Change is constant.

Maybe it's a change in grade level. Or a change school. Or maybe it's a complete change in the role you play in education. Maybe you want to branch out and teach a totally different subject, or step into a leadership role. 

No matter what this future change may look like, you can make it a million times easier and less stressful on yourself if you begin creating your teaching portfolio beforehand and add to it as you go.

So, if for no other reason, start assembling your portfolio now rather than later...do it the DARE way and "just say no" to procrastination.

✏️What if I have no clue how to set up an attractive and detailed portfolio? I don't even know where to begin or what exactly I need to include...

Say no more, I've got you covered!

When I created my first teaching portfolio I looked everywhere for a template I could use that was easy and comprehensive enough to include everything important I wanted to demonstrate about myself as an educator.

Guess what? I had zero luck in finding this unicorn resource. 

So I did the next best thing and created it myself!

Since I created version 1.0 for my own personal use, I've gained a wealth of tidbits, experience, and feedback to enhance this first version. I took all of these juicy updates and created the updated Teacher's Guide to a Rockin' Portfolio and accompanying e-course to walk you step-by-step through the process of creating your very own rockin' portfolio. 

Seriously, this is everything you're ever going to need to create a teaching portfolio rockin' enough to make anyone jelly.

You can read more about A Teacher's Guide to a Rockin' Portfolio in the blog HERE.

You can read more about the full e-course HERE. 

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