This weekend I listened to a long description from my son of what he planned to do to prepare for an upcoming test (so long that I started to suspect procrastination). My response was, “Don’t just talk about it. Be about it”. That’s what I had said to myself just weeks before about our student portfolios when anxiously anticipating how they would be received by students, teachers, and parents. After tremendous consideration given by a group of people with the goal of designing a portfolio system that is a reflection of our school mission, it was time to actually be about it. Trinity School began the 2012/2013 school year by introducing My Learning Portfolios to our teachers and students. In an effort to contribute anything that might be helpful to others using student portfolios, I will share my thoughts and experiences as the person managing our process.
The My Learning Portfolio was designed to be a place for students to capture learning experiences and reflect on that learning as an application of knowledge, and for the development of critical skills over time. Its purpose is to allow students to externalize their experiences and understanding, and then use that information to set goals, self-monitor their progress, and see themselves evolve over time. Rather than having students think about their development in terms of school subjects, the My Learning Portfolio encourages them to reflect on themselves as communicators, leaders, thinkers, knowers, and collaborators, because this is how they will use the content knowledge of science, language arts, social studies, and more.
We are so excited about the portfolios and what they could mean for students. As adults, we know that it is a journey to one’s true and best self. We also understand the benefits of developing the habits of self-reflection and goal setting. Our message to students, teachers, and parents is that the My Learning Portfolio is not a showcase of best work, but an archive of learning experiences and thoughts about how those experiences can be used on the journey of life. What a gift to give an elementary-aged child.