CMA SEPTEMBER 2013 NEWSLETTER & IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENTS
The Colorado Montessori Association is a membership organization that serves and unites the community of Montessori educators and supporters in our state. CMA prepares a respectful and collaborative environment for advocacy, networking, and professional development, which incubates our individual and collective potential to transform education in Colorado.
UPCOMING EVENTS AT A GLANCE See Event Section (below) for details:
9/19 Director's Network Meeting
9/27 Administrator's Bootcamp (hosted in partnership with the ECEA)
TRANSITIONING FROM MONTESSORI PRIMARY TO LOWER ELEMENTARY
SUGGESTIONS FOR PARENTS, TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS By Sheila Wolfe June 18, 2013
Congratulations! Your Kindergarteners have successfully completed three years in your Primary classroom and now they are ready to graduate into first grade. This transition comes with mixed emotions for parents and children. Your children are leaving the comfortable and secure environment of Primary and venturing into the unknown of Lower Elementary. They have been the oldest children in the class and role-models for others, but that is no longer true. What should we anticipate?
To begin with, think of all the Montessori characteristics that the Primary and Lower Elementary classrooms have in common. There is a three year age span of children working and learning together, only now they are in first, second, and third grade. The new teacher will allow for and provide opportunities for collaboration while offering choices. Children are allowed to work at their own pace with familiar materials such as the Movable Alphabet, Bead Cabinet, Golden Beads, Geometric Solids, Puzzle Maps, and the Parts of the Frog. The skills they learned in Kindergarten, to be self-directed and independent, will serve them well in first grade. Lower Elementary teachers will continue to foster respect for self, between other children, teachers and adults, and the environment. Behavior expectations involve settling differences peacefully.
First grade is an exciting year and offers positive opportunities for change. Your children will receive several presentations with new, concrete materials. As each child matures and is developmentally ready, the lessons will gradually become more difficult. Teachers will assist all students as they develop a weekly learning plan or contract to serve as a guide so that they will know which lessons to complete. This teaches your child to be accountable and responsible for his/her own learning. First grade has higher expectations for completing assignments. Critical thinking and problem solving skills are enhanced when the teacher asks open-ended and leading questions to stimulate self-discovery. Creativity is still encouraged, but from a different approach. For example, children will discover that there may be more than one approach to solving a math problem. They learn through trial and error, while attention spans increase with the ability to sit and concentrate for longer periods of time. There will be many opportunities in Lower Elementary to conduct research on topics of interest that will increase every childâ€™s desire to learn.
As children grow older and more mature, they are given more responsibilities. They will be expected to independently complete the classroom chores assigned to all students to assist in the care of the environment; after all, the classroom does belong to the children. Organizational skills are developed as each person is expected to care for and locate his/her own possessions, Friday Folders, and work samples.
There are some other differences between Kindergarten and first grade. The daily schedule is not the same and there may be only one 30 minute recess. It is during recess that many social skills are developed and practiced. New friendships are formed and children learn how to resolve their conflicts and disagreements. Rules, consequences, consistency, and fairness are areas of concern to children in Lower Elementary. They will hold others accountable, including adults.
Here are some suggestions for parents and teachers to implement to help children transition smoothly into first grade.
READ. Read to your children and listen as your children read to you.
Limit TV and video games. Spend time outdoors, get involved in nature, and encourage physical activity and exercise.
Give your children more responsibilities. Set clear limits, expectations, and relevant consequences. Avoid arguing.
Promote independence. Dr. Montessori wrote, â€œHelp me to do it alone.â€
Practice organizational skills.
Let your children solve their own problems without interfering. Let them learn from their mistakes.
Encourage activities centered on each childâ€™s interests. Allow time for repetition and to develop concentration.
Practice listening skills. Be a role model for children to observe how to be a good listener without interrupting.
Provide opportunities to develop patience, sharing, and taking turns. The Kindergarten and Primary classroom had an adult/child ratio of 1:10. In the Lower Elementary classroom, it is greater. Immediate gratification is not always possible.
Acknowledge your childrenâ€™s feelings without judgment or wanting to fix it. Validate their concerns. Show confidence in their ability to succeed.
Give children time to adjust. Refrain from asking, â€œWhat did you do today?â€ Often they cannot remember the name of the work, so the common response is â€œNothingâ€.
Volunteer in the classroom if possible. Children love it when their parents or grandparents can help. Depending upon the school, there might be more opportunities for parent volunteers in Lower Elementary classrooms. Also, parents can work at home to cut out laminated materials, sewing projects, handy-man and classroom repairs, or checking out books from the library for the Lower Elementary teacher.
Communicate with the new Lower elementary teacher. Most teachers are able to respond within 24 hours. Get both sides of the story.
Attend Back to School nights and read the teacherâ€™s Welcome letter. Knowing the new policies and procedures will answer many questions.
TRUST the Lower Elementary teacher. Your children will get a sense from you if the new classroom and teacher is trustworthy.
Your children have successfully completed Primary and are ready to embark on new discoveries. Share in their excitement as they encounter new situations and learn something unique. â€œThe three to seven year old generally is content to know what something is, along with a simplistic explanation of its function. The older child is oriented toward intellectual discovery and investigationâ€ (Maria Montessori).
Come and join other Montessori Heads of School as we network, discuss relevant issues and support one another in leading our schools. This first meeting of the school year is a kick-off meeting where we will decide what topics are hot on our lists, plan out the year to come and hear Gina Abegg speak about teaching children peace through Community Service Projects. Don't miss it!
ECEA / CMA Administrator Bootcamp - REGISTER NOW!
Friday, September 27, 2013
Time: 8:30 AM - 3:45 PM (+Registration and Breakfast from 7:00-8:30 AM)
The ECEA and CMA have teamed up to present this September Administrator Boot Camp workshop for Owners, Directors and Administrators. This is a smaller, more intimate administrative training than you would find at a large conference. We have chosen workshops featuring timely topics with highly qualified presenters. Not only will you receive valuable trainings, but this is a great opportunity for you to network with your peers. Up to six clock hours of training are available, along with breakfast and lunch. The registration fee is only $75.00 for CMA members.
Workshops include: Creating a Positive Environment in the Classroom (Kari Knutson, Brenda Hoge, Constant Hine, and Susan Kay), Licensing Update and Q&A with the Office of Early Childhood, Brain Development (Dee Coulter), Maximize your Marketing (Kris Murray), In an Emergency, Say it Twice - Safe School Recipe (Laura Hazen), Building a Community in your School (RB Fast).
Of special interest to Montessori educators may be Dee Coulterâ€™s presentation Coaching Young Children for Success, and RB Fast's presentation on Collaboration, Context and Clarity: The Three C's on Your Path to a Strong Community, which they describe below:
Coaching Young Children for Success - Dee Coulter:
As the stress level in the country increases, more 3 to 5 year old children are entering daycare settings, Head Start and even kindergarten with weak language skills, poor impulse control and limited ability to socialize or follow instructions. Their early lives failed to prepare them to succeed. They need a second opportunity for success but that will require special coaching on four basic controls. Then it falls on the teachers and care providers to take these children through this developmental journey for the second time. We will explore ways to strengthen each quality, preparing children for greater success in the educational journey that lies ahead.
Dr. Coulter is a neuroscience educator, known for her humor and ability to present complex ideas clearly and simply to diverse audiences through fascinating stories, practical examples and clear explanations. She holds a doctorate in neurological studies and holistic education and combines her background in neuroscience and cognitive development with practical suggestions that inspire those who serve children.
Collaboration, Context, and Clarity:
The Three Câ€™s on Your Path to a Strong Community - RB Fast
In this comprehensive workshop RB Fast will guide you through the essential steps of creating a cohesive, collaborative community in your school. Through group discussions and individual reflection, you will begin to develop a basic structure for creating a unified vision of your school that will establish alignment amongst you, your staff, and your parent body. Your personalized workshop folder will include rubrics to help you:
Establish a meaningful mission and vision or reassess your schoolâ€™s current mission to ensure that it works for your community and your future vision.
Identify the stakeholders in your community.
Assess stakeholder needs and compare them to your needs as an owner/administrator.
Identify resources in the local area that can support and inform the work you are doing.
All participants will also walk away from the workshop with a comprehensive list of free and inexpensive steps that can be taken immediately to improve the climate of morale in your school.
Get Involved with CMA... Administrator Boot Camp Volunteers Needed Friday, September 27th
Check in (7:00-8:30) and Stickering (full day) are two easy ways to get involved with CMA at the Administrator Boot Camp Workshop. If you are interested, please contact RB Fast at email@example.com for details.
CMA is putting together some mini-presentations with our community members. Are you interested in presenting something cool that you are doing in your classroom? Would you like to speak on a topic that you care about? We want to gather a groundswell of people just like you to come and talk at a CMA workshop. Sound right up your alley? Email CMA at: firstname.lastname@example.org with some details about yourself and what you might like to speak about.
Would you like to be published? Do you have something that you care about that you want to have reach the Colorado Montessori community? This is your chance! If you have an article that you would like considered for the CMA newsletter, please email CMA at: email@example.com with a copy of your article and some details about yourself.
Teacher Tips Column
Would you like to contribute a monthly column to the CMA newsletter? CMA is looking for someone to write the monthly Teacher Tips column for the newsletter. If you are interested, please email CMA at: firstname.lastname@example.org with a sample Teacher Tip and some details about yourself.
Be a member!
If you aren't already, sign up to become a member of the Colorado Montessori Association, by clicking here.
Montessori Children's House of Denver Denver, CO Start Date: School Year 2013-2014
MCHD is currently interviewing for a dynamic Toddler Afternoon Coordinator for the 2013-2014 School Year. (Full Time Position)
Applicants must have experience working with toddlers, be ECT (Early Childhood Teacher) Qualified, and be familiar with the Montessori Philosophy. Bachelor's Degree is preferred. For more information about Montessori Children's House of Denver, please visit our website: www.mchdenver.org.
Many years ago, when I was in the classroom, I treasured a book called "Teacher's Bag of Tricks" by Greg Nielson. In it he talks about "No Lesson Days", an idea I relished and readily adopted.
As Montessori teachers, we know that the most important task of the teacher is observation. To watch and truly see each of the children in their activity and observe every nuance is such a unique and vital part of being an effective Guide to their learning and development. However, so often, we are so busy throughout the day giving lessons, managing the classroom, and generally doing what Montessori teachers do, that we get to the end of each week and reflect back only to realize that we didn't spend enough time observing our students.
I loved "No Lesson Days", a day identified each week when the children knew that I was not going to be giving lessons, but rather observing them work. This beautiful day was always a flurry of activity as my proud students would relish the opportunity to be watched by me while they were working, making choices and demonstrating their remarkably capable independence.
This time, earmarked by me, to engage in regular observation by design was a cornerstone of the success of my classroom and my intimate knowledge of and connection with my students.
Giving ourselves a chance to be the visitor in our own classrooms while simultaneously giving the children a set day during which they know that the work they do will be practice (and sometimes even mastery) of the lessons already received, along with the opportunity to show me their work and truly be seen provides such a gift to the children, not to mention to ourselves. So, give it a try and see if you find it to be as valuable to your classroom as it was to mine.
SHARE YOUR PHOTOS, TEACHER TIPS, ARTICLES & NOTEWORTHY EVENTS!
Would you like to have an article you have written published, or do you have any great teacher tips, photos or noteworthy events that you would like to share in the CMA Newsletter? If so, please e*mail CMA!