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Tool: Tapping into beginning teachers’ portfolios

Sometimes we assume that beginning teachers have narrow views of teaching and limited repertoires for practice. Most often this is not the case. Beginning teachers bring emerging philosophies and a host of insights and approaches that need to be tapped. One way to do this is by talking with beginning teachers about their student teaching/internship experiences. Teacher education programs often require students to develop comprehensive portfolios that show the history of their development over their 4-5 years in college. Teacher candidates explain that, due to time constraints, potential employers rarely look at the portfolio contents. Teacher candidates and faculty who supervise them agree that the self-audit is the most powerful part of the portfolio experience; however, the question remains: Could beginning teachers’ portfolios have other valuable uses? We believe the answer is a resounding yes.

Purpose of this tool: This tool is intended to provide a list of “starter” questions that you might consider using as you and the beginning teacher engage in a “portfolio conversation.” You will be amazed at the power of the exhibits and the mass of information and insights you will acquire. You as the building leader are bound to learn a lot about the beginning teacher—and how his/her strengths can be leveraged.

  1. What does your educational philosophy look like in the classroom?
  2. What are the things you accomplished during your internship/student teaching that you are most proud of? Explain.
  3. What did you learn during your internship/student teaching about children? About children’s families? About curriculum? About classroom management? About standards? About assessment?
  4. What do you think will be your legacy in the classroom where you did your student teaching/internship? Explain.