Staying current in a profession is important, and education is no different. It is important to stay current in all aspects of education as a professional educator. Being a professional educator requires knowledge of current trends, research, and best practices. However, remaining current in all of these areas, as well as educating, leaves little time to keep a professional portfolio updated and reflective of accomplishments and documented currency.
As a professional it is important to set aside time every school year to update portions of a professional portfolio in areas where time was spent building skills and knowledge. Workshops, trainings, committee membership, action research projects, exemplar lesson plans, and annual evaluations are examples of items that should be added to the document in LiveText (if you choose to renew your subscription) or binder.
I have a portfolio that I began creating and building in 1996 when I earned my first teaching credential through the program at College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California. I used my portfolio to secure teaching positions on five separate occasions; my portfolio provided concrete evidence of my successes as a classroom teacher, and as a member of school communities. Each time I interviewed, my portfolio became a point of inquiry and discussion during the interview process. The contents of my portfolio set me apart from other candidates. My portfolio also gave me credibility—school leaders knew I had a certain affinities, experiences, and areas of focus in my teaching career and that I had a track record of success. Essentially, my portfolio helped me communicate to different groups of school leaders my levels of experience, competence, and expertise.
This portfolio serves as your professional record of your accomplishments and your journey through your profession. It is not only validation for yourself, but a useful tool to assist in the pursuit of avenues outside the classroom and into leadership positions at the campus and the district level. A good rule of thumb to follow is: If it is not documented, it did not happen.
The professional portfolio is one of the most powerful tools educators possess; it clearly communicates to administrators, peers, and interview panels areas of accomplishments, areas of focus, and areas of expertise. The professional portfolio is an opportunity for the educator to demonstrate not only levels of competence but to continue to develop in areas not yet mastered.