Head of School Weekly Email: Collecting + Reflecting on Our Work = Creating a Portfolio
October 21, 2023
Dear TA Families,
Activities on Oct. 20
We used our special schedule (see slide 3 for details) yesterday to create time for a couple of important seasonal activities in advisory – one more focused and studious and the other more fun and festive. Students spent part of the morning working on developing their TA portfolios. This looked a little different for each grade level, so check in with your student about the focus of their portfolio progress. After that, advisories turned on their creative and collaborative powers (and competitive spirits!) to decorate their doors for the Halloween Decorating contest – for Founders’ Day points, no less.
The TA Portfolio
Students at TA are required to develop an academic portfolio, which we are customizing for the middle school and high school levels. What is a portfolio? At the most basic level it is a student’s collection of evidence about their learning and activities, such as excerpts of essays or labs, photos of art work and projects, documents such as report cards and awards. The power of a portfolio lies in the coaching of students to not only document their experiences, but also to analyze and reflect on them and to begin to understand in new ways their own growth as a learner and a person. At TA, we do online portfolios, using Google sites, and students can edit, personalize, and adapt them over time to reflect their personalities, passions, and goals.
Why do portfolios? The big goals: for students to become more attuned to what and how they learn; to encourage them to make connections across disciplines, and between academic and non-academic experiences; and to foster in students self-awareness, confidence and agency, at school and in the world. These goals might sound ambitious – and they are! – but the steps are small and not so hard really for gains that can be so great. The discipline of keeping a portfolio is one of the many ways we strive to support students and meet our TA mission ‘to challenge each student to fulfill their potential.’
For those who would like to read more, this page on our website provides an overview of how portfolios fit into our academic program; and for a deeper dive, this document outlines the goals of our portfolio time in advisory on 10/20 and includes links to various resources and videos about our process.
- Friday 10/27: Half-Day Schedule (and the end of Q1)
- Friday 11/10: No School – Observance of Veterans Day
Stay dry out there,
Carrie Brennan, Head of School
Featured photos this week: Junior Matt V. searches through photos of the Woods Trail Run as he creates a portfolio entry about his role as a volunteer post runner in the race. Sophomore Layliana B. displays her portfolio entry about her leadership roles as part of TA’s Getting To Y team. The 8th graders in the Gernhard advisory show off their door decorations.