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What to Include in a K-12 Art Teaching Portfolio

written by: alisonc•edited by: SForsyth•updated: 11/30/2011

This article describes what a pre-service art educator should include in his or her teaching portfolio when searching for their first job.

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    Why You Need a Portfolio?

    When it comes to searching for a teaching position, art educators have the opportunity to shine for prospective employers with a well-constructed teaching portfolio. Like aspiring teachers in other disciplines, they have to fill out district applications and interview with district administrators and teachers. However, in the case of art teachers, many principals, teachers, and administrators doing the interviewing are also interested in what the interviewee can produce. The job of the art-teacher-to-be is to show what s/he is capable of in terms of the quality of work his or her students can produce. Depending on the nature of the position, the interviewers may want to see samples of the interviewees' art work as well.

    The rest of the article will provide details about the various components of the art educator's teaching portfolio: samples of students' work, samples of the teacher's art work; photographs of the teacher while he or she is engaged in a classroom lesson; teaching materials; and written materials.

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    Student Samples

    Very often, interviewers will get a good sense of the art teacher's effectiveness by looking at samples of his or her students' work. The samples should not only include your students' best work, but they should also demonstrate the breadth of your teaching ability. In other words, if during your student teaching you taught students painting, ceramics, weaving, photography, and found-object sculpture, your portfolio should, ideally, include samples covering all of these mediums.

    Because students almost always want to take their art work home, the preservice art teacher should plan to take photographs of his or her students' work, rather than keeping originals.

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    Art Teacher Artwork Samples

    Elementary and middle school interviewers may not be quite as interested in viewing samples of the preservice art teacher's art work as much as high school interviewers. Some high schools are very intent on having an art teacher who is able to train students well enough to earn college scholarships, and therefore prefer art teachers whose own artwork is of a professional caliber. Larger high schools may have art teacher specialists instead of generalists, and they prefer to see mastery in a particular medium. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to include some of your work samples, and the preservice teacher must do sufficient research on the position to get a good sense of what they are looking for. The preservice teacher can include original work, high-quality color copies of his or her work, slides, and/or a CD or DVD.

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    Photographs of the Teacher While Teaching

    Preservice art teachers must make sure that at some point during their student teaching, their supervisor or cooperating teacher take photographs during a lesson (or several lessons). This will give an interviewer a sense of the interviewee's teaching methods, how he or she interacts with the students, and the type of teaching materials he or she tends to use.

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    Teaching Materials and Other Written Materials

    Other materials the preservice art educator may want to include are teaching materials he or she used in some of their most successful lessons. This may include worksheets that require written responses, reproductions used for art history and art criticism lessons, teacher's examples, and rubrics or other evaluation materials. Other written materials may include lesson plans he or she has created.