A teaching portfolio is—or should be—a dynamic, evolving record that not only showcases your best work and achievements, but also gives evidence of your ability, your self-reflectiveness, and your passion for your profession. Traditionally, teaching portfolios have lived in clunky three-ring binders that teachers lug from interview to interview.
Before we go any further, let me say this: I’m a romantic. I like going to the book store. I like reading print—as in books that have been printed on paper—and have no plans to purchase a Kindle or e-reader. But when it comes to teaching portfolios, I’ll choose the digital copy or the blog over the three-ring binder every single time.
Should teachers ditch the three-ring binders entirely? Not necessarily…but I would argue that every teacher should have a digital portfolio and here’s why.
Principals don’t have enough time to adequately review print portfolios
If you brought your teaching portfolio to the interview, you probably noticed how quickly the principal skimmed through it while you were sitting there. That’s always a little awkward for both parties—but even more important, it’s just not practical. Principals have limited time to meet with each candidate, making it impossible for them to give each portfolio the attention it deserves.
Think about how much more practical it would be if you maintained a blog or had a PDF version of your teaching portfolio. Before your interview, all you would have to do is send the principal a link or attachment and s/he could browse your work at his or her leisure.
Print portfolios are impractical
Following the interview, you may offer to leave your three-ring binder with the principal so s/he can spend more time with it. All the principal has to do is mail it back to you when s/he is done—or you could offer to pick it up, right?
Again, this is impractical. Mailing the portfolio back to you costs money—and what if you don’t get the job? You’re going to have to drive yourself back to the school, knock on the principal’s office door and sheepishly ask for your three-ring binder back. Awkward.
Print portfolios can be lost
I’m speaking generally here, but most teachers only update their print portfolios when they’re looking for a new job. So when you’re not looking for another teaching position, where does your portfolio live? If you’re “organized,” you at least know that it’s in a box down in the basement where it’s gathering dust or being nibbled on by moths and rodents. But what would you do if your basement flooded? What would you do if you lost your portfolio altogether?
Unless the Internet implodes on itself, your e-portfolio is always going to be right where you left it.
You’re more likely to care about a digital portfolio
We may disagree on this, but I would argue that a blog—where you’ve posted videos, photos and short reflections about all of the cool things you’re doing in the classroom—is a teaching portfolio. Blogs are public: Your colleagues, students, parents, and anyone else with an Internet connection can see your work. Considering this, I’d be willing to bet that you will take more pride in what you post, especially if you know that your future boss may see it.
Digital portfolios distinguish you from the pack
Competition is fierce, but you can distinguish yourself from many other teachers by maintaining an online portfolio. Invite others to read, comment and critique your work—and connect with other teachers by commenting on their blogs, too! Not only will you meet other educators, you may even land a new job.