Times are changing and it’s time for your Career Professional Development portfolio (CPD) to do the same and give back to you. If the record of your career to date is still a lever-arch binder full of certificates, it’s time to renovate it to a working tool.
Your NQT induction standards may have stipulated the creation of a CPD ‘folder’ to record all of your courses (which you must include within the portfolio), however you should view your ‘portfolio’ as your opportunity to showcase your skills in a range of media, both for personal pride and career progression.
Here are 5 things that will improve your practice as well as help you build an impressive portfolio.
A multi-media account of your greatest moments
Whether you are new to teaching or you have several years under your belt, your Career Professional Development (CPD) portfolio is the record of all you have achieved so far, and the rich wealth of experience you have brought to teaching. You are not merely an amalgamation of health and safety training days with a certificate at the end, so neither should your portfolio be.
We are 17 years into the 21st century, which means that you have a vast choice of communication methods at your disposal to make your skills known. Start by hauling out photos of events you are proud of: residential trips, immersive learning days, presentations you’ve made to peers, and critically pair them with a brief reflection about the successes, and the lessons you learned from it. Your evaluation is the valuable part: employers want to see that you can identify chances to improve your practice and develop.
A DVD of you teaching
Yes, it can seem uncomfortable filming yourself teaching, but this will do you two huge favours. Firstly, a short video of you teaching is very helpful for potential employers to see your style, your confidence and how you interact with the children. Secondly, Ofsted do not specifically stipulate that teachers undergo ‘observations’ for leadership to monitor their progression. This means that you can use other methods, such as video footage, to evidence your classroom practice. Naturally, you’ll need to agree this with your Head, and be patient: sometimes innovation can seem daunting.
Include plenty of examples of you interacting with the children – assessing for learning and responding to questions rather than you ‘delivering’ the lesson.
Film from the front or side of the room (not the back); your impact as a teacher is about their reactions, not your performance. You will also capture hugely informative footage of what goes on while your back is turned and show behaviour management.
You may need to ask parental permission to video in class; your Head teacher will advise. Just reassure parents that the video is for your developmental purposes only; it will not be used publicly or posted online at all and invite them to request their child be moved out of shot for the day.
Testimonials – from the children!
Why not support your teaching and learning video with a comment from some class members? After all, it is their experience of you that matters most. Compose open but specific questions and ask the children to respond. The answers could also be recorded for your DVD, with parental permission of course. Children could provide insightful specifics such as: “How do you think Mr X could better encourage teamwork in science? How does Mrs Y ensure everyone can work peacefully?”
Index cards are a good way to stay concise. If your class has a weekly reflection time, you should be reflecting here too, but not in diary form: keep to a focus. Always reflect on a specific theme such as: behaviour management, improved voice use, inspiring teamwork, asking for help. Some of these can be included in your folder to show the roots of ideas and that you are a reflective practitioner. Never attend a training event without reflecting afterwards and considering how to apply the ideas.
Example of a plan – with annotations
Whether you include a copy of a plan in your school’s current template, or a hand-scrawled spider diagram of thought bubbles, an example plan is a valuable tool to show your favourite sources of inspiration and all the considerations you make whilst planning, such as inclusion and questioning. Vitally, ensure it is annotated to show that you reflected afterwards to choose which children to support next lesson, and that you constantly review your plans to improve them next time.
Finally, remember your portfolio can be paper or electronic; it’s up to you how you’d prefer to present it in an interview. For ease, it’s sensible to keep an up-to-date CV and your qualification documents together, ready for when you’re looking for your next role.