Beginning Teachers: Interviews & Portfolios

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It’s Thursday, so it is time for Teacher Talk Thursday. On Thursdays posts will be dedicated to teachers, classroom management, and ideas to be used in the classroom. Tons of fun stuff is ahead! Today, I will continue our Beginning Teacher series by discussing interviews and portfolios.

So, you’ve applied to school districts and sent in everything the application has asked for. Now, you’re waiting on an interview. Depending on the district, you may receive an interview in May or June, or it could be as late as July or August, or maybe even later depending on the district’s calendar. Never give up hope. You might get an interview and even a job offer just a week or days before the first day of school; perhaps even after school has started.


  1. In my experience, an interview seems to have never lasted over 15-20 minutes. Some may have went a little over or a little under, but that seems to be the average. Before any interview, my best advice is to research your district. Visit their website and read everything you can. This will give you great insight into their policies, programs, and assessments. Also, research the school’s website and look at their teacher’s websites. Anything you can find out in advance will help you prepare your answers and be prepared so they can’t catch you off guard with a question.
  2. Think of any possible questions you might be asked, and write down your answers to them. Feeling prepared helps more than anything. It will make you less nervous during the interview, and it will make you seem prepared and confident during an interview. Here are some questions you should definitely prepare an answer to:
  • Tell us about yourself (talk about where you’re from, where you went to college, your degree, internships, any special teaching talents, interests….sell yourself!) Make sure to include your personality!
  • How would you teach math?
  • How would you teach reading? (Schools are really, really looking for great reading teachers, so know all you can about reading —groups, balanced literacy, assessment, struggling readers, etc.)
  • How would you incorporate technology into your teaching?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you differentiate for learners?
  • How do you involve parents? (Think about communication – websites, newsletters, volunteers, etc.)
  • Be aware of reading assessments such as Dibels, Reading Miscue, M-Class, or any other program your district uses
  • RTI – Response to Intervention – see if your district uses this or another response program just incase you’re asked about it
  • Classroom Management – Describe your classroom management policies
  • Why do you want to teach?
  • Why would you be a great fit for this school? – Definitely talk about being a team player
  • Is there anything else you would like to add? – Use this time to ask any questions about the school or the position (use part one of our beginning teachers series for question ideas), and use this time to share your portfolio or any other skills you haven’t had a chance to share yet
  • End by thanking the team for your interview
  • If you don’t get the position, use the interview as a chance to prepare for future interviews – there will be another one. You can prepare for your first interview, but I promise your fourth of fifth interview will be so much better than your first! And that’s perfectly fine!

I used a 3 inch binder for my portfolio and divided it up into sections:

  1. Introduction: Copy of resume, degree, awards received
  2. Teacher Work Sample: (a degree requirement of a unit plan, all related lesson plans, assessments, reports, etc.)
  3. Lesson Plans: (All plans I had created throughout college)
  4. Technology Samples: (These were also incorporated in the other previous sections, but I used this section to show samples of parent communication through newsletters, blogs, and websites)
  5. Observations: (Reports of any observations completed on me, as well as journals)
  6. Recommendations: (Copies of Recommendations from supervisors, principals, and teachers)

In my experience, I was never asked to show a portfolio or any lesson plans at interviews. Weird, huh? It’s not a requirement that you bring one to an interview, but I would recommend any beginning teacher create a portfolio. In my opinion, it really helps a teacher go through their work and it serves as a great resource later on in the classroom. In interviews, I always used the opportunity when asked if I would like to share anything else to show off a few pages of my portfolio. I often had a few pages marked with a sticky note to share such as one or two lessons that I thought were my best, and I made sure those had some pictures to go along with it, a technology integration example, and a parent communication example.