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NEWSThoughts from the Head

November Thoughts from the Head

St. Andrews’ Friends and Families,

With the welcome of November’s cooler temperatures, we turn our attention to Conferences and how we partner with you to maximize your child’s learning experience. As such, I wanted to share with you some thoughts on our work as a faculty on assessment, how learners demonstrate their understandings, and how we communicate our observations.

This past month, Mrs. Gabel and I started leading sessions on providing substantive feedback in progress notes and at conferences. We workshopped in Department Meetings the following week strategies to speak compassionately and directly about student strengths, first, and then areas of growth. Faculty enthusiastically engaged in this generative work around common expectations.

A throughline to these conversations is how reducing a child’s learning to a grade (a letter or number) cannot communicate the unique story of any learner’s progress in any classroom. Narrative and verbal feedback focused both on a child’s learning behaviors and their achievement will provide you a better understanding of their learning profile. The Conference Prep Sheets you turn in allow your advisor/homeroom teacher to gather artifacts of your child’s learning so that conferences are centered on what you hope to learn.

The evolution of our program towards our Academic Vision drives our professional conversations as well. Individual faculty members are leading workshops on how to incorporate student choice in their units of studies. Faculty are mentoring other faculty. Experiential learning with students engaging with experts in the fields of study they are exploring is taking hold. Authentic feedback and student reflection is providing a wide range of evidence of our students’ growing understandings.

We celebrate our students as they achieve at high levels in academic, athletic and fine arts competitions…in our chapel and service learning programs…at levels that cannot be matched. Just this year, we’ve seen students demonstrate exemplary achievement in the classroom, on the stage, on the field and court, in chapel, and in our community.

These accomplishments tangibly put on display the holistic growth of our students. All of this culminates in the stories and accomplishments our graduates share with us. We can be proud of our alumni – they demonstrate how a St. Andrew’s foundational experience translates not only to success in high school and college, but also to life fulfillment.

Here’s to celebrating children in their holistic growth as young people through our conversations about their learning.

In service,

Joel