Welcome from Head of School Suzanna Jemsby

The Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers, or WISSIT, has been offering exceptional professional development for a full decade. I have attended many WISSIT sessions over the years, and it is always inspiring to see the enthusiasm for experimenting with ideas around deepening thinking and learning.

WISSIT was created with the aim of providing a professional development programme for educators from traditional public, public charter, independent, and religiously-affiliated schools, as well as museums, non-profits and early childhood centers. The curriculum focuses on introducing pedagogical tools, ideas, and frameworks developed at Project Zero. My predecessors at WIS had had substantial experience with Project Zero and had witnessed first-hand the impact of employing these methodologies in WIS classrooms. They saw WISSIT as an opportunity to have an exponential impact, ultimately improving the quality of education for thousands of students, even those who would never set foot on a WIS campus.

The core of Project Zero’s work is to identify methods to instill habits of mind—to encourage active thinking that will therefore lead to deeper understanding. As WIS emphasises inquiry-based learning from the moment our youngest students step into their Preschool classroom, our educational philosophy has a natural fit with Project Zero techniques.

WIS’s faculty have become adept at fostering our students’ ability to practice thinking. As WISSIT’s keynote speaker Ron Ritchhart observed during one address, we have routines for many of the tasks we complete daily, so it’s logical that we should also have routines for thinking. I love lingering in classrooms when students are participating in a thinking routine such as “See, Think, Wonder”—often used to explore a photograph or work of art, and tremendously effective at helping draw distinctions among observing, assuming, and reasoning with evidence.

I welcome you to visit our classrooms to see thinking in action!

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