Preparing a PROFESSIONAL TEACHING PORTFOLIO for an Art Teaching Position

By Buffington, Melanie L. | Art Education, May 2011 | Go to article overview

Preparing a PROFESSIONAL TEACHING PORTFOLIO for an Art Teaching Position


Buffington, Melanie L., Art Education


Over time, the idea of bringing a professional teaching portfolio to a job interview has become an expectation. Preparing these portfolios is a common part of teacher education programs and can be excellent preparation for a job interview. Additionally, teachers who are looking into changing positions will need to prepare a professional portfolio and this process may help them reflect on their practice too. The habits required for creating a professional teaching portfolio - including documenting classroom practices, reflecting on these practices, and organizing this content - are habits that can enhance teaching practice throughout a career.

In my position in a university art education department, I work with preservice teachers as they prepare their professional portfolios. They frequently ask excellent questions and I find that I do not always have the answers to their questions. Though I share my personal experiences with students, it is obvious that my experiences creating a portfolio and using in the job search process are dated. After searching in the literature in our field, I found some recent work on the job search process at various levels (Bain, 2005; Bufflngton & Lai, 2006), some work on portfolios Ln general (Bullock & Hawk, 2000; Campbell, Cignetti, Melenyzer, Nettles, & Wyman, 2007; Constantino & De Lorenzo, 2006; Kimball, 2003; Seldin, 2004; Wyatt & Looper, 2004), but little that was specific to the creation of professional portfolios for art educators. The many books and articles from general education about professional teaching portfolios address numerous important general concerns. However, to better understand the expectations of professional portfolios in the held of art education, I conducted a survey of art curriculum supervisors who are members of the Supervision and Administration Division of the National Art Education Association to learn about how they use portfolios in the hiring process. Of the 469 members of the Supervision and Administration Division, I received 93 responses to the survey. In this article, I share some suggestions based on the data from the survey and offer advice to job applicants regarding the creation of a professional teaching portfolio.

What is a professional teaching portfolio?

A professional teaching portfolio is a carefully selected, organized collection of artifacts that show the applicant's abilities in multiple facets of art education. These artifacts provide evidence of knowledge, dispositions, and skills as an art educator (Campbell, et. al, 2007). For art educators, professional portfolios typically contain artifacts that show their credentials as a teacher, their lesson or unit plans, their personal artwork, and their students' artwork. This information is organized into a high-quality binder or another format that allows for some flexibility in adding or removing information. The professional teaching portfolio should showcase the best that an applicant can do, rather than all that the applicant has done. Both the content and the presentation are extremely important. Assembling a high-quality professional teaching portfolio takes a significant amount of time and the process involves reviewing documents and images, selecting the best to use, creating new documents and images, and reformatting existing items to be consistent throughout the portfolio.

Why do I need one?

Portfolios have become an expected item for art educators to use in the interview process; 89% of the curriculum supervisors who responded to the survey indicated that they expect an applicant to come to an interview with a teaching portfolio. The other respondents said that though they did not always expect applicants to come to their interviews with a portfolio, that it was certainly an asset to the job applicants if they had one. Using a portfolio in an interview allows applicants the opportunity not just to tell the interviewer about a particularly successful lesson or unit, but also to show the interviewer the lesson or unit plan, images of the artmaking process, the students' finished art, and to explain the assessment. …

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