Student-Led Portfolio Conferences
Spring Conferences at St. Anne’s School are Cutting Edge
I recently returned from the National Association of Independent Schools’ annual conference in Seattle. The central theme of the conference was innovation, and much discussion centered on ways to think anew about teaching and learning, especially in our technologically savvy world. Student-led portfolio conferences rose to the surface of many discussions, as school administrators from across the country advocated for new ways to make learning and assessment both meaningful and visible to others.
When the conference’s key note speaker, Bill Gates, took the podium, the audience anticipated he would share the latest innovations that will help teachers help students sift through the massive amount of information available at their fingertips, due, in large part, to him! However, when asked what he thought were the most critical aspects of learning were, Gates emphatically responded “teaching respect for others, how to speak and listen to one another, and how to collaborate.” This acknowledgement by one of the world’s great thinkers and inventors was both affirming and refreshing.
Fostering Respect and Collaboration in Learning
Portfolio assessment and student led conferences are examples of the ways St. Anne’s School underscores the importance of respect and collaboration in learning. The portfolio assessment process, which challenges students to identify their own strengths, challenges, goals and dreams, is founded in our respect for their potential. The student-led portfolio conferences further this notion of respect and ask students to think of themselves in context of others, and to work collaboratively with their teachers to evaluate their own learning. Innovative, yes, but student-led portfolio conferences is a practice has been in place at St. Anne’ School for many years. In fact, during our most recent accreditation process, we were commended for the strength of our portfolio assessment process.
In First through Eighth Grades, students lead their conferences with their parents and/or guardians, reviewing their work across subject areas and highlighting their own strengths, particular interests, and growing edges. Imagine how difficult it can be for some adults to speak clearly about their own strengths and growing edges. At St. Anne’s School, we’re proud for guiding a process that not only fosters students’ sense of responsibility and independence, but also helps them build their presentation skills as they examine their own learning and develop clarity of who they are as learners.
What is Important about Portfolio Assessment?
Individual portfolios are developed and used in conjunction with report cards to evaluate student performance and communicate that performance to you. Portfolios capitalize on a student’s natural tendency to save work and become an effective way to get them to take a second look at ways they may improve future work. Portfolios:
- Allow us to examine student growth over time
- Give insight into the processes used in creating work
- Challenge students to take responsibility for their own learning
- Create means for students to reflect and evaluate their own work
- Demonstrate evidence of student growth and achievement
- Inform the teacher’s instruction with individuals
At St. Anne’s School, we challenge students to be life-long learners. Portfolio assessments are critical to this end because they challenge students to reflect upon their own learning, set goals, identify their own strengths and interests, and even highlight areas of learning that students may want to investigate further. The work we do now provides everyone in our students' lives -- the students, their parents, and their current and upcoming teachers -- greater insight into their development and progress.
Associate Head of School
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