The Big Picture
Our plans to move from strength to strength come from our core beliefs as an institution. What follows are broad reflections on the thinking which has helped us to frame our plan.
|Personal, Meaningful, Visible||Learning Environments||Programmatic Continuity||Organizational Strength|
We chose these words to describe the experience at Wooster because they are reflective of Wooster’s history, and its strength as a school. They also help us to frame our work on a daily basis.
Personal at Wooster means that we strive to understand each student and his or her learning needs across multiple contexts and disciplines. Our teachers are getting better and better at structuring learning experiences by first knowing each student’s current ability relative to the learning goal.
Meaningful at Wooster relates to our long-standing belief that we are developing the whole human being. We want our students to have a sense of purpose. Most people are happy and successful because they are good at being good people and they’ve found their purpose in life. Therefore, we should be as attentive to creating students who can develop strong relationships, who care deeply about their community and our world, and who can connect well with others as we are to the other “hard” skills that we teach.
Meaningful at Wooster also means that in order to truly understand content and concepts, students need to develop the concrete skills necessary to make meaning of them. Starting with our work on Making Thinking Visible, Wooster School faculty members are transitioning to a learning environment in which teaching students HOW to think about things comes first. WHAT they think about should be framed so that student interest is fostered to promote motivation and understanding.
Visible at Wooster means that we should be creating learning experiences within which students’ progress toward learning objectives are clear, not only to us, but more importantly to students. Students should learn to take ownership of their thinking and their learning. As they do, a stronger partnership forms between teacher, student, and peers that helps students learn to purposefully challenge themselves in regard to their own thinking and learning.
Visible at Wooster also means that we should strive to be clear about our goals and communicate early and often with parents about how we are trying to achieve them. Through this visibility, our partnership with parents is strengthened, leading to an even stronger experience for our students.
Because our emphasis is on personalizing the learning process for our students, we are creating learning environments that will allow teachers to address the needs of individual students while also providing the space and configuration to manage complex, project-based learning that requires multiple work spaces and access to technologies that will help improve learning. Our best, recent example is the Felton Learning Studio on the 3rd Floor of Coburn Hall.
Because we are building similar skills and dispositions at each grade level, our philosophies about best practices and our understanding of how students best learn should be shared, and connected. If there are ways to better develop the most important of these skills and dispositions – thinking, reading, writing, problem-solving, citizenship – they should be ingrained in our programs and practices in developmentally appropriate ways from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
At all levels of our school, we should strive to be consistently efficient and effective with our precious resources. We have a responsibility to our families to keep the cost of a Wooster education reasonable and within reach of as many community members as possible by creating organizational structures that deliver on our promise of a personal, meaningful, and visible education in ways that are smart, efficient, and effective.