Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Do I Need a Professional Portfolio if I'm Not Looking for a Job?

Aside from my full time job as a technology integration coach I adjunct at two local universities.  My courses all involve technology integration in the classroom.  Sometimes the audience is undergraduate pre-service teachers and other times it's established teachers in graduate programs.  During these classes the students work on creating a professional online presence- a digital portfolio. The undergraduates go with the flow- they are students that aren't too far removed from being high school students so they are used to directives.  The graduate students, however sometimes put up a fight.  "Why would I create a portfolio if I'm not looking for a job?" is asked.  This post is my answer.

What is a Digital Portfolio?

A digital portfolio is a living document that changes as you progress throughout your career. Portfolios are collections of artifacts and reflect your accomplishments, skills, experiences, reflections and growth as an educator. It does not take the place of a resume but supplements it. Portfolios allow others to see you as an educator (and learner) beyond your students' test scores. The audience of a digital portfolio is not student-based, so it is not the same as a classroom website (however it is definitely appropriate to link to a class website).

Benefits of a Professional Portfolio

Portfolios of your professional work can do more than help you land a job.  Many districts are using the Danielson Framework as part of their teacher evaluations.  Domain 4 speaks to professionalism: communication with parents, leadership roles within your faculty and demonstrates the highest professional standards.  A digital portfolio is a great place to keep track of artifacts that demonstrate your mastery in this domain.   In addition to a portfolio assisting with an evaluation, having a shell that contains your accomplishments and growth over your entire career can cause you to be more reflective; providing a visual for your strengths as well as areas of weakness.

Other benefits a digital portfolio provides:
  • an edge in the job market (it can help showcase you before an interview)
  • shows evidence that you are a 21st century educator modeling responsible technology use
  • share your learning with your Professional Learning Network (PLN)
  • strengthen your own technology skills
  • use one site to communicate who you are to colleagues, parents, students
  • portfolios can cause you to be more reflective, build self confidence and help with a growth mindset
  • can be helpful when applying for grants (or in some instances promotions)
  • digital portfolios shows educators as scholarly! This helps alleviate negative "teacher press" and helps to move the profession forward

What Should a Professional Portfolio Include?

Following is a list of recommendations for your site although each site is unique based on your role in education. 
  • Home page title explaining the site’s purpose
  • Clear navigation
  • Work samples (yours and students)
  • Videos of you teaching
  • Feedback from administration/peers
  • Instructional Technology Page (sites you use, skills you have)
  • Education Philosophy
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Contact Information
  • Grants
  • Presentations
  • Affiliations
  • Awards
  • *Personal Info (*some sites don’t recommend this, I think it can help you stand out if appropriate)
  • Images if applicable and approved (never put student images unless you have parental consent)


Practicing What I Preach

My site is a continuous work in progress! Please take a look if you need a sample. One note: my site is created using a FREE account at Wix.com.  As a coach I feel it's important to model what I ask other educators to do. Free websites are a great option for educators!  http://nmzumpano.wix.com/portfolio

Additional Information


Podcast

I was honored to be asked to speak about this post in a podcast for @bigtechcoach.  The audio relevant to this discussion begins around minute 38.


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