Creating an NQT portfolio for interview – just what should you include, what do you leave out and “is there really any need for one anyway?”
Let’s be quite clear from the outset on this – you don’t need to have a portfolio…however having said that the next question is
“is there any advantage in actually having a portfolio?”
It’s not often that a school will actually ask for a portfolio of work to be brought – however I have heard of one or two occasions where portfolio’s have been mentioned in the interview info.
So let’s answer the question that we asked above – is there any advantage in having a portfolio?
Well it’s a bit of a rhetorical type question because, to answer it, I am going to reverse it – let me put it this way
There are no negatives to bringing in a portfolio and it can only enhance your application – its a bit like asking how you should dress for a special occasion (this can also apply to interviews!) – you can never be overdressed but you can be under dressed!
Many universities now incorporate portfolio’s within their courses – in other words there is a general recommendation that as students you collect and prepare a portfolio in readiness for interview. This will usually be recommended in the final year and of course throughout any PGCE or similar training and guidelines are given with regard to what to include and how to set things out.
What does a portfolio say about you?
- At its very least it shows that you are organised and prepared for your interview and as such an organised teacher
- Photographs illustrate the things that you may be referring to in your answers to questions and puts these answers in context.
- By including such things as classroom management charts and items you may have made you show that you have positively addressed these areas and that you are resourceful and creative
- The whole appearance and layout of the portfolio reflects a well thought out and planned approach to your teaching.
What sort of things should be included?
Here are some ideas for inclusion – they are by no means definitive and are listed here to give you some guidelines. However do remember that this is a personal portfolio and so really the layout and inclusions are down to you and how you would like it to look and present itself.
- Quite simply, on the outer cover and also as a first page there should be your name and the fact that this is your Professional portfolio. The outer cover allows the document to be identified without having to open the file.
- The first page should be a table of contents to say what is included in the folder and these should be replicated with file dividers for easy access to sections.
- The next section should contain your CV and information about you. This will also list your teaching practices and details of the schools, ages of the children and length of the practice. It may also contain your “current” letter of application, which means the one that refers to THIS school – so this will change from school to school.
The following sections are really up to you and how you group them is a matter of personal preference. However my advice would be to link varying aspects of a “Teaching practice” to present a full picture….
- Present each of your example TP’s as a unit. I would really only use the final year practices for this and possibly only show a maximum of 3 as this allows you to give a good spread of examples while also not presenting too much information, most of which will then be skipped over.
- In this section I would also include things like your long and medium terms plans for the topic, some examples of the children’s work and also some photos of any displays that you created. If you also link this to the National Curriculum then you will also be showing your knowledge of the curriculum and also your approach to coverage.
- You may also like to show 2 or 3 lesson plans that were taught and I would recommend that these include maths, english and one other subject area or topic.
- Topic work also gives you an opportunity to include examples of other work that has been covered in your classroom. This could be practical learning in art or D/T, P.E/ dance / gymnastics or applied skills in history / geography and also computers. Again photos are a great way to present these as well as short descriptions.
- Assessment is always a good area to outline including your knowledge of Assessment for Learning (AfL). Perhaps one or two examples of marked work or a chart outlining independent approaches for the children to use or highlighted areas of your planning sheets that identify assessment possibilities would show your approach.
Additions you may wish to include
As with everything, it really is your own personal choice on this. But do bear in mind that the purpose of this portfolio is to illustrate with examples the types of things that you have taught, created and covered during your teaching practices and also to give information of you as a teacher and your own personal style.
With this in mind you may also like to include.
- Examples or experiences of different approaches you have worked within or used for classroom management and also behaviour management. In describing systems and approaches, if you have any examples of paperwork or schemes in action then you could include them here. Perhaps you would like to describe how you have set up your classroom or show some photos as to how you rearrange things for different lessons…it really is up to you.
- (ignore the spelling but I thought the idea was great!)
- List and date and courses that you may have attended or additional educational qualifications or studies you may have done
- Personal interests and skills – these will have been included in your application forms but it doesn’t hurt to include them again here!
The final word:
As I said at the very beginning, having a Portfolio to present can only help your interview and provide an extra dimension to the interview panel.
So when is the best time to give your portfolio?…in thinking of this, it is obviously best for the panel to have seen it before the interview itself. So in this respect it is better to hand it in to the school office when you arrive. The interview panel will always have a few minutes between candidates to summarise one interview and prepare for the next so this would be an opportunity for them to look at your portfolio BEFORE you step in. However if this is not possible then you can always present your portfolio AFTER your interview so that the panel can look at it prior to making the final decisions.
Whichever way – make sure you ASK FOR IT BACK!
Although it may seem quite a big job to compile your portfolio initially; don’t forget that once made then (with the exception of changing your individual school letter of application that is included) you can use this for every job interview you attend.
So, if you don’t have one at the moment then maybe now is the time to start to pull things together and build this Personal portfolio…after all it can only enhance your chances at interview – so why wouldn’t you?