Head of School's Welcome
There are any number of aspects of a WIS education I’d be delighted to highlight but I’ll focus on just one here, because it underpins everything we do. I am both confident and proud that WIS teachers are exceptionally adept at equipping students with the capacity and inclination to think. Deeply.
You might assume this is a given at any school — and it should be. At WIS, I believe it happens more consistently and at an earlier age. Visitors to the school, ranging from parents of current students to those with no WIS connection whatsoever, routinely support this assertion.
I’ll offer an example. A parent of a rising Grade 6 student took her son to a United Nations climate change conference. You’d think an 11-year-old might be somewhat daunted by the presence of scientists and experts conversing in multiple languages, but his mother reported he handled himself with great aplomb. He was interested and engaged in the material and offered relevant comments on the discussions. I’m not sure I would have been able to do the same when I was 11.
I attribute this thoughtfulness to two inextricably connected factors: exceptional professional development and culture.
Professional development is something we take seriously at WIS. So much so, that we launched the Professional Development Collaborative @WIS (PDC) in 2016, in order to share our expertise with other schools and organisations. PDC was born out of the very successful WIS Summer Institute for Teachers, a private-public initiative aimed at equipping teachers with the tools to teach for understanding, based on research and techniques developed by Project Zero.
Our relationship with Project Zero has strengthened significantly over the past decade, with 100% of our faculty members having participated in Project Zero-related workshops. I’ve spoken with a number of our faculty members who have declared their teaching — and student engagement in the classroom — was transformed after they adopted Project Zero practices.
The culture among WIS faculty members is one of learning from one another. Learning groups allow teachers to demonstrate best practices and specific techniques they have found successful. This habit of collaboration transfers back to the classroom, where WIS students are expected to take agency in their own learning.
My own daughters are WIS students, so I have witnessed firsthand an evolution in the way they ask questions, assess new information, and analyse problems — in two languages. Just what I’d expect from an exemplary learning community.