COVID forced a shift in how excellence in teaching is viewed - or if it didn’t happen that way, it should have. Over the past two years, schools needed to quickly shift their teaching model to meet students’ needs, depending on the specific circumstances of their school and the students themselves. Whether hybrid teaching, completely virtual/remote, or in-person wearing a mask and social distancing with students, delivery of instruction changed. Students adapted accordingly to the mode of instruction, with many proceeding throughout the last school year remotely learning from home. In their bedrooms or kitchens, or perhaps public libraries and community centers, students recognized that being present for class meant logging into a digital classroom, participating in a small group breakout room or responding in a chat box. They communicated with their teachers via email and virtual conferences, leveraging their overall comfort with using technology and at times, sharing their own knowledge with their teachers.

I recently had the opportunity to visit a middle school language arts class, taught remotely by the teacher (due to a required quarantine) with students both in-person and online from home, also quarantining. The teacher's lesson was a discussion based on the book the group was reading together (A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee). Through the use of student discussion leaders (both in-person and online), clear classroom expectations, established relationships with students and the choice of a highly relatable book, this class was a magical example of student engagement and critical thinking around the topics presented. In many ways, it held all of the components of a great lesson and class discussion that would occur very regularly throughout an ordinary school year. But of course, due to COVID protocols, this is anything but an ordinary school year. At that time I observed active and engaged students volunteering to read and lead the discussion, tackling difficult vocabulary and utilizing critical thinking to understand the author’s intent - all while sitting in the classroom with headphones on, a few on their yoga mats on the floor, and others at home in various spaces. In the classroom, the air conditioner was on full blast that day, so students wrapped in sweaters and blankets, some sitting on the windowsill to get warmer in the sun. They muted and unmuted themselves to participate, virtually raising their hands or waving to catch the attention of the discussion leader.

It is indeed a “new normal” of viewing great education. If you were looking for rows of desks with students quietly listening to a teacher lecture at the front of the room - this was not that class! However, if you were looking to see an example of an exceptional teacher leading a group of actively engaged students critically analyzing literature, this was that class! Looking through the lens of great teaching under differing circumstances, this was truly the joyful pursuit of learning.

  • WSG

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

As a part of our extended day program, we offer a number of Out of School Time (OST) learning opportunities through partnerships with local organizations that are dedicated to creating space for students to explore. Students take ownership of their learning, while discovering their passion.

  • The Washington Ballet is an ensemble of dancers in Washington, DC. At THEARC, our students train weekly and practice classical ballet. They also have the opportunity to audition for children's roles within the company's productions. This year, two of our students are part of The Nutcracker production! Reserve your tickets here.

  • Quantom Studios offers a wide range of technology programs to reduce the digital divide. Students learn basic concepts of computer programming to include graphic design and block coding.

  • DC Swim is an aquatics program that offers swimming lessons and free swim after school.

  • Project Create provides accessible art education through multi-disciplinary art practices using various media.

  • ARTreach offers visual arts education that promotes social-emotional learning. Some of the student programs include creative writing, drama, art, and music.

  • The Levine School of Music is a preeminent center for music education with a well rounded focus on the foundation of music. Students explore a variety of music genres and the joy of performing.

  • DC Scores teaches soccer with a mission of building confidence on the field, in the classroom and life.

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

December is full of Christmas cheer at WSG! WSG’s hallways are transformed with decorations, there is planning for our Christmas program, and you can hear Christmas carols in our hallway during classroom transitions. Christmas is also a beautiful reminder of our awesome responsibility to provide excellent and joyful learning opportunities for our girls. You may think to yourself, “Ms. Wetzel, what on Earth does Christmas have to do with WSG’s pedagogy?” I am here to tell you that Christmas has everything to do with our school’s pedagogy! Christmas is a celebration of the incarnation, when God became human. The incarnation shows us that God is present in our lives and in the world! At WSG, we embrace an incarnational view of the world. We believe that God’s love is present everywhere and in everyone! The incarnation informs how we approach school culture, discipline and academic learning. Our students are taught to acknowledge God’s presence in all people. Our teachers embrace an incarnational worldview when they use restorative practices in the classroom or develop lesson plans that cater to the unique needs of our students. Because Christ’s love is at work in everyone and everywhere, all learning at WSG from math to reading to science to religion helps to bring forth the fullness of Christ’s light in our students and our school. Christmas has everything to do with our pedagogy and is a perfect time to share with you how WSG came to formalize it.

In 2018, we began a collaborative process to define the WSG way of teaching and learning through the development of a pedagogy statement. It was important to define our pedagogy because we knew there was something special about how WSG engages students in the learning process. We wanted the statement to both capture the essence of our teaching practices and be aspirational. Remember all learning is a reflection of Christ’s presence in our school so it was important for us to celebrate our strengths and identify areas for continued growth.

We identified 9 essential traits of our teaching methods: faith-based, individualized, culturally responsive, experiential, inquiry based, flexible grouping, differentiated assessments, positive behavior systems and data-driven decision making. You can read the complete pedagogy statement as well as our recognize statements here:

Pedagogy Statement

Pedagogy Traits and Recognize Statements

Here is the timeline of our project:

We are incredibly proud of the work our staff engaged in throughout this adaptive process. At each step, we incorporated feedback from all of our staff and made adjustments until we arrived at a statement that truly captures what we believe about teaching and learning at WSG.

Merry Christmas!