Thursday, May 1, 2014

Your Summer Project: work on part of your portfolio

Summertime and the living is easy.
Well, that's exciting!

Perhaps not.  But this is an exercise worth doing and not as hard as it sounds.  Drum roll please....


Sorry, am I screaming with the all caps?  I can't help it.  This is important.

We (the department, with the initial prodding and matchless help of Laurie Ziliak) have created various templates to help you create something that describes or shows how you are proceeding in your education and formation toward certification toward Lay Ecclesial Ministry.  We offer three options:

1. create a concept map, like this one
2. do our (beta mode!) checklist
3. write a narrative that incorporates these standards

There is no standard form for a portfolio, although there are basics that need to be in one: a resume, perhaps a list of people to call for general recommendations (perhaps an employer, an internship director, a pastor, and/or an professor), and evidence that you have done good work preparing to be a lay minister/teacher.  It can be paper or online, although there is probably value in doing both.

Career services can help you craft a good resume and polish interviewing skills.  We can advise on securing recommendations and how to do that.  We want to help you with the evidence piece of the portfolio.  How you present this material is up to you.

You are not expected to complete the National Standards for Lay Ecclesial Ministers by the time you graduate.  However, it would be good to show that you are well on your way, and that you understand that working on these standards is the bread and butter of lay ministry.  Churches want to hire people who are personable, experienced, qualified, and have a good understanding of the work in terms of vocation.  These standards help you articulate that.  You may end up working in a diocese that wants you to get certified through these standards.  Almost any place will be impressed that you are attending to them.  So go do it!

But how?  Personally, I think the checklist is the easiest place to start.  It provides the four sections of the National Standards (human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation), and the particular items that you should be attending to in some fashion.  HOW you attend to these items is for you to describe and defend.  This checklist is a pilot project for us, and the items to check out are not meant to be exhaustive.  Some items were included as possibilities that you may not think qualify, at least according to your experience--so don't check them.  But the checklist gives you a good sense of how this works, and frankly, can be printed off and included in your portfolio.

Some people love their visuals, and the concept map is one way to provide that.  There are many online options to creating a concept map.  The one I used for the sample is Text2Mindmap .  There are also possibilities in XMind, Lucidchart, Mindmeister...the choice is yours.  Just choose one that will print in a way that fits on a standard piece of paper, if you wish to have a paper portfolio; and make sure any online version is easily accessible for church secretaries dealing with a slow dial up computer.

Then there is the narrative option.  Think about what you have done and write a relatively short ( five page?) defense of how you have attempted to meet the National Standards.  Especially if you are a good writer, this may be the way to go.  You can also easily print it out or post it online for easy access.


WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO WORK ON THIS OVER THE SUMMER.  Oops, shouting again.  But it's true--this is worthwhile and you will need to do this before it's all over at SMU.  The earlier you start, the more you can "correct" gaps and weaknesses in your portfolio.

The Theology faculty is happy to talk to you about this at any time.

Happy summer!