Overview: Though our classes have moved online, Upper School students’ access to a rich curriculum rooted in inquiry and dialogue has not diminished. In Westtown Distance Learning, our Upper School Faculty emphasizes critical thinking, collaboration, and innovation. In the classroom and beyond, students partner with teachers, deans, advisors, and support professionals in order to develop and deepen their individual gifts and talents. Online as in person, teachers and students come together for deep, interactive experiences, exploring challenging assignments, and engaging in in-depth content discussions.
"I believe education should be transformative for all students, and that transformation can happen through diversity of experiences, ideas, backgrounds, and styles of teaching." - Veda Robinson, Upper School Principal
A blend of synchronous teaching and guided practice in extended class periods: In each course, students engage live with their teachers in five synchronous 70-minute classes over a two-week cycle.This extended teaching period provides a variety of formats to enhance learning. Teachers have time to introduce a lesson; students have time to practice what they have learned with the teacher present to guide and coach them. Synchronous classes are recorded for those unable to attend on account of time zone or other impediments, so that all of our students have the same access to learning. Lessons are designed to make imaginative use of online resources, and often featuring teacher-created videos or whiteboard lessons. Through these various methods, students will broaden their understanding of content and deepen their skills in research, analysis, communication, and collaboration.
Teacher and advisor connections: Students have several opportunities per week to meet with their teachers: in advisory meetings, individually, and by appointment during office hours. Teachers, advisors, class deans, and others are readily available to support students in mastering a concept or working through a personal issue. Special effort has been made to prioritize office hours for students in other time zones who have trouble attending early morning or late afternoon classes.
Library services: Our librarians are ready to help with Westtown Distance Learning. In addition to one-on-one assistance with building research skills, innumerable resources are available through our library, including free access to the New York Times for all Upper School students and faculty.
Support for students: All students continue to have access to the Learning Center and the Integrated Learning, Health, and Wellness Team. In addition to these resources, numerous structural elements are built into our program as described below, and adults are ready to connect by a student’s preferred means of communicating.
Reflection and worship: Even in distance mode, we continue to gather weekly for Meeting for Worship, coming together as a community for reflection, sharing, and centering.
Community time: We have a 40-minute dedicated community time each morning. This time is used for Collection, Meeting for Worship, advisor groups, assemblies, and affinity group meetings.
Clubs and activities: We held a virtual Club Fair where students could sign up for over 30 clubs and activities that are all meeting remotely. Clubs include The Brown and White (school newspaper), Green Coalition, Rightly Political and Westtown Democrats, Model UN, Chess Club, Drama Club, and Classics Club.