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Portfolios, The Good, The Bad, The Essential?

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In my neck of the woods, Northeastern Ohio, there is a consortium of twelve colleges and universities, some public, some private, that works collaboratively to sponsor a huge teacher education fair; The Northeast Ohio Teacher Education Day (NOTED). Every year, hundreds of students and alumnae from the participating schools show up at the crack of dawn (in April, that is around 6:00 a.m.) rain, shine or even snow, dressed in their suits and armed with folders full of resumes and. . . . .carefully crafted portfolios.

Portfolios of the educational journey toward licensure and employment in the teaching field serve as a critical part of the process. They help the student to reflect upon the learnings that have occurred as well as the direction s/he is considering for a future career. The portfolio also helps the student to articulate exactly what he or she has done to prepare for the teaching profession and to determine areas of strength, weakness or need for continuous improvement.

That said, is it absolutely necessary to lug these often cumbersome binders to job fairs where the goal is for the candidate to be invited to the district for the full interview process? The answer, according to representatives of the Ohio Association of School Personnel Administrators is a resounding "NO."

Those who are responsible for hiring the best teachers are not going to spend the limited time they have with you at a job fair looking at that portfolio. They want to review your resume, determine whether your philosophy of teaching matches that of the district and to see if there is a general fit. Once you are invited to the district, if you want to bring your portfolio as a resource, referring to specific sections that support your answers to questions you may be asked, that is fine. However, the recruiters are not expecting you to dump the portfolio on their desk and expect them to review the entire thing. Even if your portfolio is on a CD, you run the risk of a recruiter at a job fair not having the technology available to review it.

The bottom line is this; you want to use your portfolio as a resource to support your interview process and enhance and strengthen your candidacy. To do otherwise can prove costly to you in terms of conducting a successful job search.

---Gerri Sullivan
Director, Office of Counseling and Career Services
Ursuline College

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