What, Exactly, is The Wagner Way?

Posted by Danielle Holloway on 5/17/2018

What, Exactly, is The Wagner Way?


It is May. May. And I have much to discuss, but how do you talk about a semester in one post? I have decided that you can’t, so I am not even going to try. I am going to focus on one of my most favorite things about our Spring Semester: watching students and adults settle in to the Wagner Way.

We throw the term “The Wagner Way” around here quite a bit.  A lot of the times we are using it to reference how we do things, how we go about our business, how we approach decisions. Sometimes it is used to communicate expectations and culture, like “Nice job of taking care of that the Wagner Way!” or yes, because we are a middle school and sometimes someone needs help regrouping, we use it like “What’s happening here? Is that the Wagner Way?” I am struggling to describe it to you now, and maybe that’s why we coined the term -- because the Wagner Way is tough to describe. But isn’t culture always difficult to describe?

Pictures may help! Here are some snapshots in time that speak to the Wagner Way.


Growing in our Learner Profile Skills

Pic 1

These students participated in a Project-Based Learning Experience in their PLP class that charged them with creating a habitat that could sustain life on Mars! These students presented their learning to other students at the PLP Exhibition in May.

Pic 2

These students worked hard to prepare for the underwater robotics competition. And just like anything really complicated, their robot wasn’t perfect despite the hard work. When I spoke to the girls after the competition, the first thing they said was, “well, we learned a lot that will help us next year!” They showed us perseverance and innovation and growth mindset at its best!

Affirming & Caring About Each Other

Pic 3

Our Girls’ Athletics programs frequently gets intentional about affirmations -- they set aside time to ask students to affirm other students, and you can visibly see that those affirmations mean a lot to the athletes and create a strong, cohesive culture!

Pic 4

This student scheduled a meeting with me because he had heard about a hard time one of our staff member’s family is facing and he had some ideas about how to help them! I love his great, big heart and the fact that he said more than once, “We are all wolves and wolves are a pack.”


Using Our Building to be Maximize Learning

Pic 5

These students used their PRIV card and got permission from their teacher to do their work outside of the library. These girls were focused and could be heard discussing their work and working together!

Pic 6

I rounded the corner in the Fine Arts hall one day to see this: a student using the hallway as a quiet space to rehearse her lines for theater. Propped up on the wall is her ipad -- she was recording herself and then she’d sit and watch herself, make notes and think to herself, and then stand up and try again!


Serving Others in Our Community

Pic 7

These students were showing off their fitness bands, which were counting the number of steps they were taking each day. Their total steps helped earn a financial donation for clean water in Africa. How cool is that?!?

Pic 8

These students chose to participate in a PACK Hour group on service learning. They decided that they would collect supplies and backpacks to provide foster children. One student told me “we want whoever receives it to know that they are loved!”


Everyone Learns!

Pic 9

I have already shared on this blog about Team Wagner’s focus on adult learning. Here, this group of teachers from across different content areas spends time in a Coaching Circle, where they were each presenting unit plans and getting feedback from their teammates about the work they were designing for students.

Pic 10

This picture was shown from the top of the Learning Stairs on a Professional Learning Day. No students were in the building and the staff was spending the day learning about the four key components to personalized learning. This picture not only shows how our adults like to use the space, too, but shows the devotion and commitment to learning that is shared by the Wagner staff.

Celebrating Success

Pic 11

Our team leaders set effort and responsibility goals for their students this Spring … and periodically celebrated making those goals with snowcones from Kona Ice!

Pic 12

We randomly acknowledge our Wolves making great decisions by passing out “Caught Ya Being Awesome” tickets when we see it happening. Here, students are redeeming their tickets at the school store.


Trying New Things & Taking Risks

Pic 13

These students are in our MakerSpace and using our logo robotics tools to assemble working devices. There is a lot of trying and re-trying, and students learn and create working robots that they are proud of!

Pic 14

This picture represents one of my favorite moments of the school year. The student on the right came to me to ask me if he could plan and organize a Wagner Talent Show. We met and discussed expectations, and he found and adult to support him and made it happen .. and it was awesome! There were many acts, students working the lights and sound, and a packed Commons to watch it. I love that Wagner students felt comfortable in bravely performing in front of so many people, and I love that we got to learn more about our students’ interests and talents!


There is so much more to the Wagner Way than what I have been able to show here! My hope is that the more you can read about us, visit us, and talk to our students and staff, the more you’ll start to understand it yourself. This is a special place to learn and to work and great things happen each and every day!


Until Next Time,


Lindsay Harris

Principal, Wagner Middle School