Bismarck Rita Murphy 2nd grade teacher Olivia Becker has transformed her classroom to include mindfulness, yoga and Project Based Learning.  Most recently, she decided to implement student-led parent-teacher conferences. Becker says when she began her career over four years ago, she followed a more traditional model of teaching. Becker says she soon found her students weren’t happy and she was going home frustrated and sometimes in tears.

Specifically, Becker says she was overwhelmed by curriculum, teaching to standards and student behaviors. Becker decided to reinvent her teaching style which now focuses on student choice, an open concept classroom with flexible seating and practicing yoga and mindfulness. In the spring of 2018, she opted to introduce student-led parent-teacher conferences. She says the move empowered her students to care about what went into their portfolios and added a level of accountability as students cared more because they were directly involved in the process.

I’m always wondering how we can get students to be more accountable for their own learning. And so when I read about student led conferences it just kind of made sense where students are talking about their progress and they’re aware of their own learning. So it just made sense to me for kids to be talking about themselves versus me telling parents what I think I know,” said Becker.

In the video above, two of her students explain what they’ve learned from practicing mindfulness and from participating in student-led parent-teacher conferences and Project Based Learning.

Becker says incorporating all of those concepts has led to better behaved and more engaged students. And she says she’s a happier teacher!

Listen to a podcast with Olivia Becker.

Olivia Becker talks about introducing student-led parent-teacher conferences at Rita Murphy.

Becker is a North Dakota United and Bismarck Education Association member. You can contact her at 


Olivia Becker poses with students at Rita Murphy Elementary School in Bismarck.