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Kennedy (2006) identifies three dimensions (hypotheses) for what a qualified competent teacher should be. The first dimension tells us that our best teachers are charismatic, personality types who are innovative, curious, and warm. Another dimension says teachers must hold to strong values of integrity, personal industry, and looking past self-interest toward the general good (York-Barr, J., Sommers, W.A., Ghere, G. S.,&Montier, J., 2006&Gardner, H., 2008). The final hypothesis holds that good teachers are the product of their content knowledge, and they are able to demonstrate their competence by meeting professional standards and passing professional competency tests. All of these hypotheses hold some truth, but they are difficult to assess by reading a resume, college transcript, or conducting interviews. When principals try to find a good teacher who fits with their school learning environment, they must have reliable, unvarnished assessments of teachers.

To a great degree electronic performance portfolios on the web have the capacity to demonstrate Kennedy’s three dimensions. First, teacher charisma is more demonstrable with the portfolio than with flat resume sheet of paper. The electronic portfolio allows multimedia (audio, video, and still photography) to demonstrate innovation of instruction and the intellectual connection with student in the classroom. Such a production can be invaluable for a principal to see. Video clips demonstrating how the teacher presents a lesson become more revealing than merely telling about the teaching act in an interview.

In addition to lesson presentation, charisma and personality are qualities often suggested as critical to effective teaching (Darling-Hammond, 2007; Kennedy, 2006; National Academy of Education, 2005). How can an administrator know if that teacher submitting a resume or sitting before them has the traits of creativity, empathy for students, or intuition of heart that moves students to question, evaluate, and create knowledge beyond rigid rules and tables for memorization? The electronic portfolio provides a glimpse into the heart and thinking of a teacher candidate. A well-structured portfolio reflects on developing stronger pedagogy, and reaching the diversity of learners in more relevant and meaningful ways. Along with these reflections are lesson plans and other media that provide evidence of teacher creativity and personality. Such positive traits underpin the portfolio as evidence of professional and personal ethics and affect in the classroom.

Integrity (Gardner, 2008) and empathy toward students (Fullan, 2003) evolves through the various artifacts that can be uploaded in the portfolio. Once again teacher candidates are able to demonstrate dispositional attributions related to caring and considerate teaching. Video demonstrations offer the visual representation, but more importantly teacher reflection provides the principal with considerable insight. Many states require teacher preparation programs to help graduates frame professional practice in personal reflection. Answering the critical question about constant improvement and internalizing best practices reveal interior thinking that often remains just below the surface in any selection process.

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Source:  OpenStax, Ncpea handbook of online instruction and programs in education leadership. OpenStax CNX. Mar 06, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11375/1.24
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