Friday, January 5, 2018

Headmaster Letter

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. 

With Devotion,

Headmaster Weinhold