BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF LEARNING

Written on 10/20/2021
Laura Fitzpatrick

WC faculty and administration are committed to excellence in teaching and learning

The vision of Worthington Christian School begins with the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning out of love for God and the world He has made. This vision would not be possible without an outstanding faculty. Recruiting and developing an outstanding faculty is one of WC’s most essential values. Graduate after graduate speaks of the deep and lasting impact that WC faculty members have had in shaping them into the people God made them to be. These transformative interactions take place as teachers are willing to personally invest in the lives of their students. This also happens as WC’s faculty invests in their growth as teachers and lifelong learners, building a community of learning together with students.

Over the last five years, the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning has led the school’s faculty and administration to adopt a framework known as Understanding by Design. As WC’s Director of Teaching and Learning Tom Burns explains, Understanding by Design produces the types of learning experiences desired at this school. Simply put, Understanding by Design is a framework for instructional design that begins with the end in mind—what it is that the faculty and administration want students to be able to do as a result of their learning experiences at WC. This learning involves true understanding: solving problems with increasing complexity, providing students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning, and challenging students to transfer what they learn to new and unique situations. With these end goals in mind, teachers can then design their instruction to move students toward this deep understanding.

In 2016, took a deliberate step in the journey of pursuing excellence in teaching and learning by partnering with ConnectingEd. ConnectingEd is an educational consulting firm owned and operated by two highly experienced educators who specialize in Understanding by Design, Sarah Folzenlogen, and Stephanie Hollar. Folzenlogen and Hollar both have years of experience as classroom teachers, were co-creators in starting their own school, and have been partners in ConnectingEd for over a decade. They have worked in school districts across the United States, helping school administrators and faculty move towards excellence in teaching and learning.

Partnering with WC over the last five years, Folzenlogen and Hollar have led a myriad of professional development experiences with the school’s administration and faculty. On an administrative level, they have challenged and encouraged WC’s leaders to develop a definition of what it means to have excellent teaching and learning at this school. On a faculty level, they have led large and small group gatherings, new faculty training, and ongoing study groups with teachers at all levels. These groups provide teachers with the opportunity to come together and discuss what they’re teaching and how they’re teaching and gain feedback from their peers. Folzenlogen and Hollar also serve as one-on-one coaches for WC teachers. Folzenlogen explains, “Because teachers have always been in the classroom with their students, education is typically a solo venture. But we were designed by God to be in community.” All of these training opportunities provide space for teachers to be lifelong learners, fostering a community around teaching and learning.

Having worked with dozens of schools and districts through ConnectingEd, Folzenlogen describes WC as one of her favorite schools to work with. She speaks of how committed WC’s administration is to seeing that Understanding by Design is not just being a passing trend or something that’s done on a checklist, but it really becomes a way of thinking so that students are engaged in meaningful learning. She explains, “We have seen so much growth in the time that we have worked with WC. The opportunities are huge here.” ConnectingEd often provides training to teachers in a school or district, but Hollar describes how impactful it is that both WC’s administration and faculty are working together to move towards the common goal of defining and implementing excellent teaching and learning. She explains, “It’s been really exciting for us to witness and watch the two levels come together to succeed.” To learn more about WC’s commitment to excellence in teaching and learning and the school’s partnership with ConnectingEd, watch the video below: