Several of my blog posts this year have revolved around the theme of #success. How do we judge and measure our own child’s success and what does “successful” parenting looks like? How do we measure our success as a school today? What features might a “successfully reimagined” Parish have tomorrow?
Needless to say, I am proud that as a community we choose to pose these questions and, when seeking answers, take a much fuller and more nuanced perspective on what success means. We know our children and our School are more than a compilation of statistics, trophies and other metrics.
No effort we have made since 2009 demonstrates our belief in a more refined and meaningful definition of success than one of our signature programs: the Parish Practices and MyPanther digital portfolio.
We constructed the Parish Practices in 2010 as a statement of philosophy. Namely, we believe today’s students must secure enduring habits of mind if they are to succeed in tomorrow’s changing world. More important than what students know – how much content they can consume, regurgitate and forget – is what they CAN DO with what they know.
Given this, we wanted to define what a “definitively prepared” Parish student would be able to do as they left Parish, not just what they knew. For our graduates to lead and serve in the rapidly changing, globally interconnected world, it will be imperative that they hone these skills. Thus, the Practices were born.
But, how might we show that these Practices were more than just words? How could we capture students demonstrating their mastery of these skills in ways that went beyond traditional papers, tests and quizzes? Could we, in fact, chart a student’s journey to mastering these important habits of mind by cataloging samples of her work as she travelled through our program?
Our bold answer to these questions was the creation and design of the MyPanther digital portfolio. Few schools nationally have undertaken such an audacious task – attempting to capture authentic examples of an individual student’s learning across three divisions and fourteen grade levels. Now in our third year, with many challenging miles travelled and many more to follow, the seeds of this project are bearing fruit.
Most importantly, teaching and learning on our campus continues to transform. Our talented faculty increasingly designs lessons and assessments working backward from these skills. As a result, learning experiences have become more student-centered and engaging. We refer to this as putting students in the “do mode.”
Additionally, MyPanther helps students develop a habit fit for the digital age. As articles like this New York Post example attest, the paper résumé is increasingly becoming extinct. When the Parish students of today tackle the world of tomorrow, they will possess a capacity to tell their story; to reflect on what they have done and how they did it; and to manage their digital identity in a technology-infused world.
Three years ago, our Lower School students began compiling work in their MyPanther portfolios, joined two years ago by their Middle School peers and this year by our ninth graders. A PreK student whose portfolio began in 2012 may, by the time he graduates, have as many as 89 artifacts in it! What an impressive and personalized testimony this digital portfolio will be. It will represent vividly the individual child’s journey to mastering skills which prepare him for a productive and meaningful life!