Whether you have just finished your first term of teaching as an NQT or are still training, it is time to think about what you have achieved so far.
Although it is not compulsory, you should start thinking about putting together a professional development portfolio. But what goes into it, what use is it and why should you bother?
Your portfolio can be used in a number of ways, from job interviews to planning to go through the threshold in a few years' time or applying for advanced skills teacher status. Now is the time to think about putting one together and building upon it as you progress and gain experience as a trainee or teacher.
Your portfolio should be split into several distinct sections.
It differs from a CV in that it contains actual evidence of your achievements in your training or teaching, including statistics on your pupils' successes and examples of your professional practice, and what direction you want your career to take. The first part of the portfolio is about you and your achievements, the second is about your future development - what you want to do and where you want to go in your career.
Section 1: Personal details
This says who you are, what your job is or what training you have had and what your qualifications are. Include in this section:
* Your qualifications
* Where you trained and the title of the course
* Your career entry profile (for NQTs - what you did before you started teacher training)
* A short statement about your qualities and strengths as a teacher.
If you are still training, also write a brief statement that outlines the classes you have taught and the topics you have covered.
Section 2: Your wider role in the school
Being a teacher is important, but so are things you do outside the school and curriculum. Working either in the voluntary sector or as a qualified instructor in sports is also useful additional experience.
Include brief details of:
* Any work you do outside the curriculum such as school clubs
* Voluntary or part-time work with local clubs (Scouts, etc). Once you qualify, you will almost certainly find yourself taking part in committees or working parties so look out for opportunities to include information on the following:
* Any working groups you join or volunteer to sit on
* Any specific tasks you have undertaken, such as developing schemes of work, creating resources, managing pupils' performance data and so on.
Section 3 - Your Continuing Professional Development
As a professional, you are expected to keep up to date with developments in teaching and with your subject knowledge. For this section include:
* A record of the courses you attend during induction (commercial and LEA), including any certificates of attendance
* Any in-service training you attend in school (give a brief outline of the content)
* Any training you have undertaken within the school. This can include peer observation, visiting other schools or shadowing colleagues.
Section 4: Extending your professional experience
Teachers often join a professional association to help them keep up to date with the latest initiatives in their subject. There are often opportunities for NQTs to be represented on local or national committees. Remember to include details of your membership to such associations and committees.
As an NQT, you will be required to direct others who support you in your day-to-day teaching such as learning support assistants. Include details of:
* Membership of professional associations
* Leadingsupervising non-professionals who work in the classroom eg learning support assistants or specialist teachers for the hearing-impaired
* Collaborating with peripatetic teachers
* Organising a display in collaboration with colleagues.
Section 5: Working with Pupils
This is the core activity of teachers and, as such, is the most important part of your profile.
As a new teacher it will take time to collect evidence for all of the following, so look for opportunities within your job to gain experience, but don't forget to add to your portfolio when you have the evidence and do not worry if you have not got evidence for them all. Do keep records of your pupils' exam successes from internal test results to KS test results and public examinations. Include:
* Basic statistics of your pupils' success in public or other examinations: end of key stage tests, GCSEs, ASA2 or GNVQ examinations
* Data on your pupils' predicted results and their actual achievements as evidence of your teaching.
But education is about more than tests. As you develop your portfolio, think about what you do on a day-to-day basis that could add to your portfolio, such as:
* Taking responsibility for a group of pupils on an off-site visit
* Developing teaching skills across a wide age and ability range
* Working with pupils on school councils
* Working with pupils to present an assembly, play, musical performance, events etc
* Working with pupils preparing a school year book
* Integrating the use of pupil websites and on-line communities into your teaching
* Using e-mailvideo conferencing between pupils in teaching and learning
* Negotiating pupil targets and evaluating work alongside pupils
* Mentoring individual pupils.
Section 6: Your career aspirations
This defines what you aspire to and hope to achieve. Begin it by focusing on how your experiences have made an impact on you and what you have learned.
Few people think systematically about what they have learned and done and often undervalue their knowledge and experience. Look to build both on your strengths and areas you want to develop. Your career entry profile (CEP) is the starting place for this.
This section will be particularly useful when it is time for you to discuss with your line manager your performance to date and how you wish to develop your skills and career in teaching. It will also help when your review sessions are set.
Collect evidence for your portfolio as you go through the development experience to show how and what you have learned.
Supporting evidence for this and the other sections of your portfolio could include: photographs, letters to parents and others, samples of pupil reports, minutes of meetings you attend, lesson plans, samples of pupil work, resources developed and produced by you and lesson observations carried out on you.
Don't forget, the portfolio is the place to sell yourself, not the place to be modest about your considerable achievements.
James Williams is the PGCE programme leader at the University of Sussex and author of 'Professional Leadership in Schools: Effective Middle Management and Subject Leadership', published by Kogan Page pound;18.99