Do you have a portfolio? Portfolios weren't common back when I first graduated in the early 80's but they're increasingly common now.
The purpose of a portfolio is to highlight your accomplishments as a teacher. A portfolio can incorporate a resume, photographs, certificates of achievement, transcripts, letters of recommendation, awards, projects, lesson plans, newsletters etc.
My portfolio is a large photo album that's divided into the following sections:
1. Introduction/overview of who I am This is basically a one page title page that's a quick summary of who I am.
2. Career history with the most recent experience first Each school I've worked in has 1-2 pages. To avoid confusion, I've standardized the page formats. I start with the school name, dates of employment, and grade level assignment along with a picture of the school. I highlight my responsibilities or achievements at this school and incorporate photographs to illustrate what I did.
3. Philosophy of education This is actually divided into the following sections: classroom organization, communication, hands-on instruction, and student motivation.
4. Credentials This section contains my teacher certification, official transcripts, and Praxis test scores. Insofar as I'm a chef instructor, it also includes my ServSafe test scores and my food handler's certificate.
5. Letters of recommendation This section includes letters of recommendation, character references, and even thank you notes from parents and students.
NOTE: One bit of advice regarding photographs. Avoid photographs that serve no purpose i.e. a picture of you posed next to a student. Your portfolio is intended to highlight your teaching experience. It's not a photo album that depicts you on a field trip, you on yard duty, and you in your Halloween costume.
To my way of thinking, appropriate photographs show bulletin boards, projects, classroom organization, class projects etc.
In terms of using this portfolio at an interview - avoid the novice mistake of handing the portfolio over to the person interviewing you. Your portfolio is not a show and tell project and some administrators will evaluate your creativity on the basis of how you incorporate your portfolio into your interview.
So what do you do?
Assuming your portfolio is well organized, use the portfolio to illustrate your accomplishments as a teacher.
Interviewer: "How do you present a new vocabulary word to a class?"
You talk about the use of word walls, open the portfolio, and show the interviewer a picture of your word wall.
Interviewer: "Describe some of your strengths."
You talk about your organization and show the interviewer a picture of your classroom lay out. You talk about your creativity and show the interviewer a lesson plan and pictures of classroom projects.
Be positive! When you interview, shake the interviewer's hand with a good firm grip. Look the interviewer in the eye. Smile. You're confident and self assured. You're not at all worried about losing your job, no siree!
Stay focused on the interview. DO NOT meander off topic or overwhelm the interviewer with non-relevant details. Keep your answers as short and to the point as necessary. Be prepared to elaborate if necessary.
Be proactive about your body language. Avoid slouching in your seat. This is indicative or boredom and laziness. Avoid crossing your arms across your chest. This suggests that you're being defensive.
When arriving at an interview, BE EARLY. It's always better to be 15 minutes or more early than to arrive late. Nothing says, "I'm not really interested in this job" as an applicant who comes late to an interview.
Be professional. Look sharp. Your job interview is not an opportunity for you to make a personal dress statement. This is not casual Friday.
Be prepared. In addition to your portfolio, make sure you have a copy of your resume. Some interviewers are not terribly organized and it would be professionally courteous if after shaking the interviewer's hand, you offered this person a copy of your resume.
Don't forget to get plenty of rest the night before. It's hard to be enthusiastic if you didn't get a good night's sleep.