TA News

Portfolios & Roundtables: Students Reflect on Their Learning and Growth

Students have so many experiences over the course of their years at TA – internships, sports, clubs, challenging courses, theater, music, outdoor activities – it’s easy to believe that these experiences alone are enough to foster learning and growth. In Outward Bound’s early days, instructor Rusty Baille famously agreed: “Let the mountains speak for themselves.” 

But just as the mountains do not speak for themselves, we do not learn from experience itself. We must reflect on those experiences to make meaningful connections, grow, and find new challenges. That is the goal of our student portfolios at TA and the Spring Roundtable Days when students present their portfolios to audiences of peers, advisors, and family members. 

During their time at Thetford Academy, students develop a portfolio, using TA’s Transferable Skills as a framework, to reflect on their growth, gathering artifacts like coursework, photographs, and awards. Students’ written reflections then connect their evidence to the transferable skills framework. Our spring roundtables are an opportunity for students to share their growth as a learner over the past year and their goals for the future. 

One such roundtable presentation occurred during our March 29th teacher in-service with senior Saylor Billiau. As an example of Caring and Involved Citizenship, Saylor shared her repeated volunteerism at TA’s Woods Trail cross country races. As an example of Creative and Practical Problem solving, she delighted and surprised the audience with her unique piano practice journal, a solution she identified when she realized she wasn’t playing as much piano with all her responsibilities this year. “I analyzed my situation and came up with the practice journal. I write down goals, what I did, and what I could do better.” 

In attendance were her advisor, a panel of faculty evaluators, her parents, and several of her peers who were taking notes, asking questions, and giving “kudos” at the end. This is a typical roundtable experience. 

Anything but typical, however, was that the entire TA faculty and staff were observing, as if on the outside of a fishbowl. This learning experience for faculty and staff allows us to calibrate our expectations for both the roundtable process and the student product. When asked what the best part of in-service was, several faculty members cited Saylor’s Roundtable presentation. “Being a part of the round table experience … was inspiring and emotional!” 

We’re looking forward to many similar experiences on April 12th and May 31st, and families are encouraged to attend. Reach out to your student’s advisor to learn more about the details for your student’s grade. We are excited to share and broaden this powerful experience of reflection. 

An excerpt from Saylor’s Piano Practice Journal



We set high expectations. We challenge all members of the school community to reach their highest potential.


We value initiative, courage and dedication. We take personal responsibility for the goals we set and work hard to achieve them.


We work and learn together. We see teachers as coaches, students as team members, families as partners, and learning as practice and action.


We provide individuals with personalized support and guidance. We care about each other and the larger community.


We respect differences among people. We welcome the contribution of varied perspectives to a rich and flexible school culture.