A thousand thanks for a fantastic first week back! Our teachers and students were truly joyful as they participated in their projects, and our student-led conferences were a fruitful time of reflection and goal-setting. Thanks to all the families who have reached out to me with words of gratitude and support. I am so incredibly proud of our whole community for the positive and joyful way that we've begun 2018!
Student-led conferences are particularly well-suited to a classical liberal arts academy such as ours. Central to our approach is a way of life modeled by the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, who famously said that the unexamined life is not worth living. We teach our students to live Socratically through student-led conferences by encouraging them to examine their past behaviors & habits, to submit those to the standard of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, and to set goals that bring them closer to those ideals. In short, we ask them to live the examined life. Engaging in this kind of liberal arts dialogue is not always easy, but it is incredibly rewarding and worthwhile. In fact, a recent conversation with Hillsdale graduate, Dr. Ben Rogers, reveals that the liberal arts prepares you for a career in medicine. I am so proud to be a Gladiator, and to engage in the life-transforming activity of educating young people together with our faculty. They, too, deserve our praise for their compassionate, humane approach to our students. They are truly mentors and coaches to the tender souls in their charge.
Dear Parents, If your student ordered an NPX sweatshirt, they will be available for pick up on Tuesday, January 16 during Lunch and Recreation. Please remind your student to come pick theirs up in front of the administration building during Lunch and Rec. Thank you for your patience! Go Gladiators!
Dear North Phoenix Prep Families, Welcome back from what I hope was a restful and relaxing winter break. I am once again very excited to continue the practice of student-led conferences when we return. Our decision to adopt the student-led conferences model last year came as a result of careful reflection and deliberation on our leadership team. When we asked ourselves what we really wanted for our students, we saw that having the students lead their own conferences would encourage them to become active, not passive, participants in the process of their own learning. We also saw that by having the students lead their own conferences, we could alleviate the burden on parents to serve as intermediaries between the teacher and the student. Most importantly, we saw an opportunity to reinforce a central message of the education that our students receive here, that our students are the captains of their own ships.
In preparation for these conferences, we ask students to develop a Student Growth Plan (SGP). The SGP is a one-page document that captures the themes of their narrative evaluations, puts them into context, and documents the key area the student chooses as an area for growth in the coming year. As an aid to completing their SGP, we also provide an Action Menu with two lists. The first contains 14 Learning Techniques that Research Shows to be Most Effective. The second list is categorized to provide a long list of ideas a student might choose to employ in their SGP. Please access these files using the links above, and have your student complete these documents at home.
After completing the SGP, we ask that students attend their conferences to share and discuss the plan with their teachers and parents. The conference will aim to understand the thinking behind the student’s choice of an area of focus for growth, as well as understand how the student can be supported, and to provide guidance as needed. Some students may choose to modify their plans after the conference consultation.
We have seen the student-led conference paradigm work well in the past, and even our youngest students took the process seriously and led very productive conferences. We also received very positive feedback from parents and students because we created conditions wherein our students took ownership of their education with the support, guidance, and mentorship of teachers and parents.
It is our sincerest hope that we will continue to cultivate the hearts and minds of our students through this process at North Phoenix Prep this year.