Planning the “Perfect” Professional Portfolio
By NAfME Member Paul K. Fox
PMEA Retired Member Coordinator and
Chair of Council for Teacher Training, Recruitment, and Retention
© 2018 Paul K. Fox
This article first appeared on Paul Fox’s blog here.
Prospective music teachers: Here’s how to create an online employment profile/dossier:
“In short, creating a portfolio involves reflection, collection, selection, and connection.”
To quote Cheryl Frazes Hill in “A Portfolio Model for Music Educators” in Music Educators Journal, Vol. 95, No. 1 (September 2008), pp. 61-72, “The portfolio used in education is an organized collection of artifacts (examples of works) documenting a person’s skill and growth in an educational program and a career.”
First, you need to do your homework—a comprehensive collection of “all the good stuff!” To support this, number 7 in the Majoring in Music blog of “Seven Things Music Education Majors Can Do to Make Themselves More Employable” is “keep an updated list of your skills, relevant experiences, and training.”
I have always suggested to my college-bound students that they reserve a spot on their computer’s desktop, a file (appropriately) named “ME,” and place in it a bulleted document with chronological descriptions and dates of special achievements, awards, and appointments. From time to time, more updates of “good news” should be added. In addition, archive (save in the folder) accompanying scans/pictures of all music programs, congratulatory letters, certificates of achievements, newspaper clippings, etc. In college, this should be expanded to include documentation and anecdotes/stories/reflections about music and music education field experiences, accomplishments, and especially any problems identified and problems solved. All of this is perfect fodder for future interviews . . .
“Do you have ‘what it takes’ to be a professional music teacher?”
“In your opinion, what makes you qualified (‘a good fit’) to be hired for a position in our institution?”
According to The EDU Edge, the following “must-haves” and “should-haves” (paraphrased) should be incorporated into your portfolio:
- Educational philosophy
- Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
- Letters of recommendation
- Artifacts of student work
- Classroom observation documents/evaluations
- Statement about class management theory (discipline) and the steps that you would take inside your classroom to create a safe and orderly environment
- Letters from parents commending the work you did with their children
- Pictures (a direct quote The EDU Edge: “We cannot emphasize the power of pictures enough when it comes to portfolios. During interviews, committee members are trying to get to know you and trying to envision you teaching. Don’t trust their imaginations to do so; give them pictures. Pictures bring it together for committee members and verify the reality that you are meant to work with children. For this reason, we recommend photos or newspaper articles of you: teaching students in the classroom, with students on field trips, learning excursions or outside class activities, with children while you are serving in adviser roles, with your students at musical or athletic events, coaching or working with children in a coaching capacity, as a leader and role model.”)
To this list, I would add a copy of college transcripts, Praxis® exam results, teaching certificate(s), samples of student assessments/rubrics, and excerpts (short videos) of you performing on your major instrument/voice, solo and chamber recitals, piano accompanying, playing in college ensembles, and especially teaching in as many settings as possible: small and large group instrumental (band and strings), choral ensembles, elementary classroom lessons, extracurricular activities like marching band and musical, private lessons, etc.
An excellent overview on this subject from “our number one professional music teachers’ association”—the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is “Do I Need a Digital Teaching Portfolio?”
Carol Francis offers “Sixty Clean and Simple Examples of Portfolio Design” for WordPress users.
It is worth downloading “ePortfolios in Music Teacher Education” by Vicki Lind from Innovate: Journal of Online Education.
Numerous college and universities across the country have their own requirements and recommendations in the development of online credentials. Take a look at the Penn State University School of Music site “Undergraduate e-Portfolios.” Another excellent outline is provided by the University of Texas at San Antonio. Finally, Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching site offers good models and information on “Teaching Portfolios.”
In conclusion, take some time to examine the sample teaching portfolios (below) for more insights on design, style, and content. I also recommend you read my blogs on other subjects of “marketing professionalism.”
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – Charles Caleb Colton
- Ms. Maki’s Teaching Portfolio
- Gregory Blankenbehler, M.A. Mus.
- Melissa White’s Teaching Portfolio
- Rachel Klein
- Michael Loughran
- Xinzhu Xu
Read more of Paul Fox’s articles on “Becoming a Music Educator.”
Add your resume to the NAfME Career Center and maintain your profile, get job alerts, receive career coaching, and more.
About the author:
NAfME Member Paul K. Fox is currently the State Retired Members’ Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA), Chair of the PMEA Council for Teacher Training, Recruitment, and Retention, Founding Director of the South Hills Junior Orchestra, Steering Committee/School District Representative of the UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY magazine, staff announcer for “The Pride of Upper St. Clair” USCHS Marching Band, Trustee for the Community Foundation of Upper St. Clair, and volunteer escort for the St. Clair Memorial Hospital.
Retired June 2013 from 33 years at the Upper St. Clair School District and 2 years at the Edgewood School District (now Woodland Hills School District), Paul K. Fox primarily taught Orchestra/Strings (Grades 5-12) at Boyce Middle School, Fort Couch Middle School and the Upper St. Clair High School (USCHS), along with positions in EL/MS/HS choral and general music, elementary band, and HS music theory. He also served as Upper St. Clair School District Performing Arts Curriculum Leader (7 years), Executive Producer of USCHS Fall Plays (29 productions) and Spring Musicals (30 shows), Editor/Writer/Photographer for Upper St. Clair School District publications/communications (26 years), Assistant Sponsor and Business Manager of the USCHS St. Clairion Yearbook (4 years), and Secretary-Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District One (21 years).
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.