WISSIT

Our annual summer institute, begun in 2014, is a week of intense – and fun – professional learning with outstanding educators. Registration opens early in the year.

How do we create powerful, long-lasting learning experiences for our students?

How do we explore complex topics in ways that engage all learners?

And how do we raise up student voices and foster civic agency?

These questions and more shine front and center at the annual Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers (WISSIT).

This intense–and fun!–week of professional learning introduces educators to effective strategies for cultivating deep thinking and understanding at all grade levels and across subject areas.

WISSIT is open to participants in the Washington, DC, region and beyond. While we will reserve a majority of spaces for local educators, we welcome those from around the country and world. For anyone attending the in-person WISSIT from outside the DC region, you are responsible for arranging your own travel and accommodation. (We will provide some guidance on the registration page.)

At our ninth annual WISSIT, from August 1 to August 5, 2022, we welcomed over 200 participants–split, for the first time, between the in-person and virtual tracks.

Typical of most years at WISSIT, nearly 70 percent of attendees hailed from the public sector. Most were classroom teachers, although there was healthy representation from administrators–from central office leaders to principals and instructional coaches. Three local public school systems–Arlington, DC and Fairfax County–sent the largest numbers overall. But there were folk in attendance from public charter, other traditional public, independent and religiously-affiliated schools, as well as from early learning centers, museums and non-profit organizations.

Stay tuned for the 2023 WISSIT dates and registration!

What You Will Learn

At WISSIT, educators explore the research coming out of Harvard Project Zero (PZ)–an innovative leader in the domains of teaching and learning for over 50 years. Each year, we learn with and from PZ researchers and a diverse faculty of outstanding educators from the Washington, DC, region.

WISSIT introduces PZ ideas and pedagogical tools and strategies and encourages ways to adapt them to participants’ own context.

The institute explores three key themes: 

(1) Building a Culture of Thinking: How do we develop dispositions that lead to thoughtful learning across school subjects, and beyond? How do we effectively create a culture of thinking, in classrooms and schools, that supports all learners?

(2) Learning Deeply with Museum Resources: What can we–educators and students–learn from objects, artworks and archival materials to deepen our understanding of, and engagement with, the curriculum? How can we leverage the unique museum resources that exist in our community?

(3) Encouraging Playful Learning, Creativity & a “Maker” Mindset: In response to the challenging two years we have just experienced, how can play, creativity and making re-ignite joy in learning? How do they help us to be attuned to nuance?

In 2022, our keynote speakers at the morning plenary sessions were Ron Ritchhart, whose work on creating cultures of thinking has resonated with educators worldwide and has delivered the opening keynote for the last nine years, and a wide range of local PZ-innovators:

  • Heidi Hinish (Senior Educator at the National Gallery of Art);
  • Sher Anderson Petty (Montgomery Co. Public School IB English literature teacher);
  • Georgina Ardalan (DC Public School Preschool teacher);
  • Cynthia Robinson-Rivers (former DC Public School principal);
  • Kristen Kullberg (Design and Making Initiatives Coordinator at Washington International School); and
  • Mary Beth Dillane (Fairfax Co. Public School Math Coach).

The WISSIT/DCPZ Community

This institute brings together educators from a variety of schools—traditional public, public charter, independent, parochial—as well as other educational organizations, such as community-based early learning centers and museums. We invite participants to reflect deeply on ways to design and facilitate enriching learning opportunities for their students. Support for WISSIT participants continues throughout the following school year through the DC-Project Zero (DCPZ) professional development network.

How to Register

Registration for WISSIT opens in January. Each year, WISSIT has a waiting list. We encourage you to register as soon as possible. Bear in mind that registration does not guarantee a spot in the institute. Registrants hear back within approximately two weeks of registering about their status. Once a spot is approved, you have 30 days to pay the registration fee, by either check or credit card. Please note that this year we are offering two concurrent but separate tracks of WISSIT the week of August 1-5: one scaled-back in-person version to be held at WIS’s Tregaron campus in the Cleveland Park neighborhood, and one virtual version to be held on Zoom.

Scholarships

Educators in Title I (or equivalent) schools, or those in an accredited teacher licensure program, can apply to receive 50% off the regular registration fee. (The 2023 application will be posted here when registration opens.)

The Mara E. Wilson Scholarship, which covers the full registration fee, goes to a local visual arts teacher. Teachers in Title I or equivalent settings will be given priority.
(The 2023 application will be posted here when registration opens.)

The Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education (CASIE) handles registration, payments, course schedules, and logistics for WISSIT.