(This article is excerpted from a staff development session entitled Electronically Connected, Personally Disconnected.)
In 2013, the American child enters the Montessori prepared environment awash in the media saturated culture. Every day Montessorians confront the unabsorbed child, the two-minute mind child, and the fantasy character-obsessed child. Needless to say, Montessorians also live in this electronics revered culture.
So what to do? What can Montessorians offer the child to counteract these influences? And what might the Montessorian do personally to avoid contributing to the problem?
First and foremost is to give complete lessons on the Montessori materials. A complete lesson affords the child slow-time to get sutured into the reality of the material. This may seem self-evident, but â€œdrive-byâ€ lessons and the adult avoiding certain areas of the classroom is not what Dr. Montessori had in mind.
Next, include a personal, one-on-one, face-to-face encounter with each child every day engaging in that back and forth reality-based conversation necessary for the child to engage the frontal lobes.
Include lots of rhythmic activities, which call upon the childâ€™s mind to take command of his movements.
And the adult can review oneâ€™s own electronic habits. Remove the cell phone from the prepared environment, call and text outside of the view of the children in adults-only areas. Remember that you are their role model; the children want to do what you are doing.
Commit to being authentically present every day.
Article submitted by: By P. Donohue Shortridge
Donohue Shortridge conducts parent night talks and staff development sessions for Montessori schools in Colorado and around the country.
Montessori Infant-Toddler Training Course June 1, 2013 through August 4th, 2014 (22 Saturdays 8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and 32 Monday Evenings 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.) Cost = Contact Janet Humphryes for more information Location: Bright Horizons' Montessori at Greenwood Plaza Instructors:Janet Humphryes and Patti Templin Contact: Janet Humphryes or call 303-985-4246 for more information.
Join this unique learning opportunity and enter into a collaborative Montessori learning experience.
Fox News is going to do an expose in May about the length of time it is taking for background checks and that child care centers could potentially be hiring child molesters for several months. Because this could put the department in a bad light (not doing enough to protect children), David is going to run an emergency rule package to prohibit new hires from being alone with children until the background checks come in. He is also going to have the department immediately run the ICON and TRAILS checks (they usually wait until they receive the CBI/FBI Check to run those).
Because FOX is going to make public the length of time it takes to get background checks, applicants with criminal histories could apply for jobs knowing that they have several months of employment before they are caught. This could create some liability for providers. Also from a marketing perspective, our parents may be alarmed if they think we could have potential child molesters working for several months before they are caught in the background check.
Montessori Certified Infant-Toddler, Summer Program & Primary Teachers Time Frame: To start Summer or Fall 2013 Parker Montessori Parker, CO
Parker Montessori is accepting applications for a Montessori certified Infant-Toddler teacher, starting in the summer or fall to help start a new infant classroom, and a primary certified teacher for the fall of 2013. We are also looking for a summer only primary certified teacher to run our summer camp. This could be good for someone who has a school without a summer program who wants to return in the fall.
Contact: Anitha Harshan | Parker Montessori by e*mail or at 303-841-4325. Resumes can also be sent to Anitha at 10750 Victorian Drive, Parker, CO 80138.
For many of you, the end of the school year means a well deserved break. Even for those of you who will continue to work in the classroom, summer time often gives the opportunity for more outside time, a change in the kinds of activities available to children, and just a different pace to the day.
Be it a break from the classroom, or this more relaxed time with your students, summer can be a time of reflection, refreshment, and renewal for all of us who have worked so hard to give the best to our students. One of the best ways we can renew as Montessori educators is to read, and re-read those books, chapters, or even passages that help us recommit to this important work that we do.
As Dr. Montessori stated time and time again in almost everything she wrote, to truly support and aid in the development of the child in her work of becoming an adult, we must become a different kind of educator. We must be willing to see each child and his full potential. Through our honest, unbiased, and non-judgmental observation, we must trust that each child will lead us to the knowledge we need to be that support in the service of development. This means we must be willing to engage in active self-reflection, be willing to take a good, long look at our own needs, our weaknesses, and the ways in which we interfere with the childâ€™s growth. And from that willingness to be open to ourselves, â€œwe must be humble and root out the prejudice lurking in our hearts. We must not suppress those traits which can help us in our teaching, but we must check those inner attitudes characteristic of adults that can hinder our understanding of a child.â€ (M.Montessori. 1966).
The reissue of Learning How to Learn: An American Approach to Montessori by Nancy McCormick Rambusch is a wonderful, must read for all Montessori educators. First published in 1962, it is fascinating just how relevant this book still is to education in America today. Dr. Rambusch, the founder of the American Montessori Society, gives a thorough, concise, and articulate explanation of Dr. Montessoriâ€™s life work and her exploration of how children learn. By examining the essential, key elements of the Montessori approach to education, this book presents the whys, whats, and hows that are so beneficial to the child. From the fly notes, â€œThis American approach to Montessori points the way to what may well be the most creatively revolutionary movement in modern early education.â€
This book can remind us of the importance of our work as Montessori educators, the key elements that allow it to work, and our role as the director of the prepared environment and support of each childâ€™s self learning. Part III, chapter 5 is devoted to this importance of the prepared adult in the classroom.
Take another look at The Absorbent Mind. In chapter 26, Dr. Montessori discusses the difficulties and rewards of the teacher in various stages of her experience with children. She clearly outlines the tasks and skills we must master, and the development of our self awareness and knowledge and understanding of children if we are to truly benefit the childâ€™s unfolding.
Paula Polk Lillard, Montessori: A Modern Approach, (chapter 3 and chapter 6) examines the role of the teacher in providing for the essential elements of the prepared environment. â€œIf the teacher is to play this key role in the environment for the child, she clearly must be open to life and the process of becoming herself. If she is a rigid person for whom life has become existing rather than growing, she will not be able to prepare a living environment for the children.â€ Chapter 3 explains the changing role of the teacher as the needs of the environment and children change and provides us with the steps that must be followed to keep the classroom dynamic and responsive to our students.
The Discovery of the Child, 1967 and The Secret of Childhood, 1966 are both wonderful sources to read and re-read on our path as Montessori educators. Chapter 10, The Teacher, in The Discovery of the Child, is Dr. Montessoriâ€™s own thorough explanation of the tasks the adult must undertake in becoming the kind of educator who could support the child. In The Secret of Childhood, chapter 22, The Spiritual Preparation of the Teacher, Dr. Montessori leads us to the hard work we must do with ourselves to be the educator of her vision and one who can contribute to the childâ€™s task of reaching his potential.
These are but a few of the books that can inspire us as we honor the children whose lives we have an opportunity to be a part of.
On a personal note, this will be my last regular Teacher Tip for the CMA newsletter. I will soon be moving to North Carolina to assume administrative head duties at a Montessori charter school serving students primary through middle school. I have enjoyed working with the Colorado Montessori Association and wish you all the very best as you continue to give a voice to Montessori.