Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's a Big Fricking Deal

In ten days, I graduate from college. I could go on about what a significant moment this is, how proud of myself I am, how hard I've worked, blah, blah, blah.

Yes, graduation is great.

But let me tell you about my portfolio.

All education majors (and I'm one of those people) has to put together a Standards Portfolio. To be certified to teach in the state of Maine, you have to meet the "Initial Standards for Certification" (seen here, if you're really curious...and I know you aren't). My education program guarantees us eligibility to to be certified to teach by the time we graduate from college. In order to fulfill that guarantee, we have to create the Standards Portfolio that documents at least twenty artifacts (two artifacts per standard--there are ten, if you didn't figure that out already) showing how we've met each standard.

This is a lot of work.

Making the actual portfolio doesn't actually consist of a lot of effort, just a ton of time (like, a couple of days worth of time--if you're smart, you spread it out over a week or two). What does take a lot of effort is creating the artifacts. Now, you aren't going to create a bulk of your artifacts (or any, really), just to put in your portfolio. Example, all my artifacts are products from the units I wrote, student products from lessons I planned and wrote, workshops I attended, research papers I wrote, websites I created for student use, all the analysis I had to do for a separate project I completed earlier this semester (which was the most hellish thing I experienced--you plan a unit, you teach it, you collect data, you analyze all that data, you literally write hundreds of pages about every little thing you did with you students, why, and what the repercussions were), etc., etc., etc.

So, the point is: It's a lot of work.

And yesterday, I presented my portfolio, as well as other projects I've completed, to professors, other education students, other college students, my family, and any other person who wanted to drop in and listen to me (I should note that I wasn't the only one doing this; there were several of us who all presented yesterday). And you should know, portfolio presentations are a big deal for us education majors. We have an exit interview first, where our supervisor basically signs off on our being able to graduate (it's rare that people don't get signed off during their exit interview, because they normally know their in deep trouble before they get to that point, BUT it's still nerve racking). Then, after your exit interview, you're given a table in one of the dining halls on campus where you set up your portfolio display (so, your portfolio, student work, candy to entice visitors, review sheets, pretty decorations, etc.). And then you wait for people to show up and you talk non-stop for about three hours.

It's exhausting, but it's also cathartic, because you get to fully express for the first time just how hard you worked and how much you loved it over the course of a semester. At this point, you feel confident in what you do and proud of yourself and ready to take on the world of education on your own. It's a great feeling and it's fun and for most of us education majors, it's a way bigger deal than having your name announced, grabbing an empty diploma holder (our university doesn't mail out our diplomas until July, so we just get an empty holder on graduation), and standing, briefly, before a sea of anonymous faces.

Yes, graduation is great and is intended to be a celebration, but portfolio presentations is a chance for us ed. majors to shine and to show that we deserve to be graduating (and in many cases, graduating with some sort of cum laude--magna in my case). I am looking forward to graduating in about a week and a half (!!!), but I sort of feel like I've done it. And that's a pretty big fricking deal.


Stephanie said...

It's a huge deal! Congratulations!

Kirsten said...

Thank you! :-)

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