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CMA JANUARY 2015 NEWSLETTER
Mission
The Colorado Montessori Association is a powerful voice for Montessori advocacy providing a forum for networking and professional growth in the Montessori community. It is a highly functioning, evolving professional organization, unified in its vision, respectful, purposeful and inclusive.
QRIS and Montessori:

Unprecedented Collaboration between the Colorado Montessori Association and Qualistar Colorado Results in Montessori-focused Training for all QRIS Contracted Raters

By RB Fast
December 29, 2014
 
2015 promises to be yet another year full of changes for early childhood programs in Colorado. Over the course of the past five years, the landscape for programs has changed significantly. We have seen the formation of the Office of Early Childhood, changes in leadership at several levels, increased Department of Labor audits, what seems like an endless process of rewriting the center rules, and the roll-out of the state’s new QRIS program, Colorado Shines. With over 120 Montessori schools in Colorado, most of them with early childhood programs, the Colorado Montessori Association was determined to ensure that we did not stand by as passengers on this journey, and we are proud to report that we have participated in an unprecedented partnership with the state’s contracted raters to ensure that they have access to resources and information about Montessori pedagogy.

On December 19, 2014 CMA’s Vice-President and local educational consultant, RB Fast, spent the afternoon with the team of raters from Qualistar Colorado at Children’s Garden Montessori in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood. This team is comprised of all of the people responsible for conducting site ratings for levels three through five of Colorado Shines (levels one and two are part of standard licensing visits). This two-hour training was the first time a state Montessori organization organized a professional development workshop on Montessori pedagogy for QRIS professionals.

During the training, Ms. Fast presented a basic overview of Montessori history and pedagogical basics as well as information on the content and quality of Montessori teacher training programs. The Qualistar rating team was shown how Montessori teachers incorporate independence, order, concentration, physical coordination, and respectful interactions into the child’s daily experience. Ms. Fast also introduced the raters to some of the waivers, such as breakables and small materials, that they might encounter in a Montessori classroom and the reason why those waivers are in place.

Ms. Fast used the ITERS and ECERS (tools that will be used by Qualistar) to inform the trainers on specific items in those tools which they might not see and then showed how the classroom meets the intention of that rule in an alternate way. For example, while a Montessori classroom might not necessarily have unit blocks and stuffed animals, it will have Sensorial materials like the Pink Tower and Broad Stair and the opportunity for children to comfort themselves in the Peace Corner.

Finally, the raters were given the opportunity to explore the Montessori classrooms. They explored the materials and asked questions about the purpose. Ms. Fast also gave them tours of the room and introduced them to materials that demonstrated the concepts that she introduced in the training. The rooms were brimming with smiles and curiosity as the raters eagerly explored and learned more about the Montessori approach.

At the end of the training it was clear that, while there are absolutely no guarantees that all Montessori schools in Colorado will get high quality ratings, CMA made an impact on the Qualistar raters’ opinions of Montessori programs. They will be empowered to approach each school armed with context, information, and an understanding of the curriculum that was previously not there.

The Colorado Montessori Association is so pleased and excited to have had the opportunity to positively influence the impact of QRIS on Montessori schools. We are so grateful to Qualistar Colorado for their eagerness to use precious staff training time for Montessori focused training. We also want to extend a huge “thank you” to Children’s Garden Montessori School for opening their doors to us and allowing us to take over their school on a day it would normally be closed. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Montessori Forward for their hard work in developing the Montessori Guide to the ECERS and to Kaplan Early Learning for supplying Ms. Fast with complimentary copies of the ITERS, All About the ITERS, the ECERS, and All About the ECERS to prepare for the training. When we all work together, big things can happen!

For more information on Colorado’s QRIS visit:
www.qualistar.org
www.ColoradoShines.com

For more information about our project partners:
www.montessoriforward.org
www.kaplanco.com
www.cgMontessori.com

For more information about RB Fast:
www.beelineconsulting.net

Article Submitted by: RB Fast, Beeline Consulting
UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS:
 
CMA Directors' Network Meetings
 
January CMA Director's Network Meeting
What:       Directors' Network Meeting
Speaker:  Sheila Wolfe
When:      Thursday, January 15th, 2015 1:00-3:00 pm
Where:    Montessori Del Mundo, 15503 E. Mississippi Ave., Aurora, CO 80017
Phone:    720-863-8629
Topic:      Assessment and Montessori
 
Come and join other Montessori Heads of School as we network, discuss relevant issues and support one another in leading our schools.  Don't miss it!

CMA Director's Network Meeting Calendar
Click here for a copy of the 2014-2015 calendar for CMA's Director's Network Meetings

In Praise of Teachers

January 2015
In Praise of Teachers: Artists, Alchemists & Advocates
By Seth Webb
 
When we speak of the fabric of our society, no one besides a child's family has the power and potential to transform a child's life like a teacher does. Teachers perform the essential role of weaving together social mores, cultural practices and multiple ways of understanding to create a tapestry that tells our story. This work is an ever-expanding creation, made newly rich and complex as each one of us - students all - contributes our experiences and perspectives.
 
We are artists. We express our love for life and living through the content that we teach - in both the method and materials we share. In an ever-increasing search to meet the needs of each child, we transform the classroom environment and the content we study so that everyone might have a personal and meaningful relationship with learning.
 
We are alchemists. We constantly balance the needs of one child with the needs of another; we cater to each individual, in service of all. Throughout the day, opportunities are made available, and prescriptions are given. In each action resides the scaffolding for more and more complex educational options. Our compass is the warmth and growing light of excitement that we all feel when working with passion and delight. 
 
We are advocates. We greet the children with our hearts before we do so with our minds. To move too quickly, to rush headlong into the delivery of content, is to create a space where the teacher is merely performing - dispensing information, regardless of its relevance to or resonance with the children. We work to know both the head and heart of each child. This connection allows for the deep and purposeful exploration of our universe, powered by a trust and faith in each other.
 
Our work and the work of our students is not static or passive. Rather, ours is a rich and vibrant world, one where originality and creativity put young thinkers on the edge of new understandings. We are champions of joy and engagement. 

Article Submitted by: Seth Webb, Dean of Students, MAEd, Free Horizon Montessori

Letter From the President...

January 2015

Dear CMA Members,
 
We have all chosen to live in the beautiful state of Colorado, home to mountains, plains, small towns and dynamic cities.  It is also home to a remarkable number of Montessori programs large and small, new and old.  We are home to a Montessori school serving Southern Ute children, a Montessori junior/senior high school in the public system, home-based programs that serve infants and their parents, and many venerable and well-established private Montessori programs.  We are home to, by my count, three Montessori training programs.

In other words, we are home to alternative educational models.  We know parents want options, we know it’s rare to find a parent who is not hoping for the best for their children, and we also know, from personal experience and study, that the Montessori approach to education, if well implemented and fully developed, works. 

This year we find ourselves fully engaged in a strong effort to maintain those options.  This effort is playing out on two fields – in publicly funded Montessori programs that are faced with assessment requirements that serve our approach poorly, and in every preschool program, because all of them will be asked to respond to T-QRIS. 

As we peer into the possibilities waiting for us in this brand new year, these two efforts compel CMA to keep working to build alliance, clarify the commonality between our quite different schools, and support teachers to develop their skills.  These three efforts leave me with my New Year’s Resolutions for CMA:
 
  1. Build our community
  2. Clarify our common goals
  3. Support teachers in this important work

We invite you to join us in our great work!

Sincerely,
Kathryn Ross
President, CMA   
Schools Showcase
Submitted by: Dot Thompson and MECR
 
SCHOOLS SHOWCASE planned for September 2015 Retreat in Estes Park.
 
Montessori schools in Colorado and beyond will show off their energy, creativity, and special features at the “Montessori in the Mountains” retreat at the YMCA of the Rockies Conference Center and Resort in Estes Park, September 25-27, 2015
 
SHOWCASE displays will be set up Science Fair style in an exhibit area near the conference meeting rooms, so that attendees may enjoy an overview of our wonderful schools. Contact Retreat Coordinator, Dot Thompson, to register for table space: dt@mecr.edu.
 
DON'T MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW OFF YOUR SCHOOL.
SIGN UP NOW!!!

TEACHER TIP

Moments
By Illyce Kaarto


"Our teacher therefore must also be the 'Spirit Child' - or rather, the vital urge with the cosmic laws that lead him unconsciously. It is clear that nature includes among the missions she has entrusted to the child, the mission of arousing us adults to reach a higher level. The children take us to a higher plane of the spirit, and material problems are thereby solved."
-Dr. Maria Montessori
 
It is a crisp winter day up in our Colorado mountains.  The kind of day that inspires.  The deep humph of our snowshoe tracks in the freshly falling snow feels satisfying, and the bright shimmer of the snow crystals shine.  Our boys are way up ahead...and suddenly...they drop...and...snow angels!  Spontaneous.  Laughing.  Joyous.  Innocent.  Beautiful.  Free!
 
It is a moment.  One of those moments in time that emanates pure happiness and love.  I am grateful for my full awareness of this moment...and for the gift I am being shown by the snow angels.  I breathe.
 
I am reminded of the Spirit Child.  How they teach us and show us these spontaneous, free, joyous childhood moments.   And I wonder...do we all take the time to breathe in these moments with awareness?  Do we see...really see...the children revealing their true natures to us? 
 
I stood watching for a long time.  Observing the brilliance took my breath away.  And I was reminded this coming year to slow down.  To observe.  To notice.  Children are fortunate enough to be in the moment always.  Have we busy adults lost this ability in the rush of life?
 
It is a gift.  A gift Dr. Montessori believed that the Spirit Children give to us.  We knew we treasured these moments when we chose to be Montessori guides...but, in the busyness of guiding, have we perhaps lost track of being present in the moments?  The moments with the children?
 
Be with your little ones this year.  Notice them...deeply, slowly, truly, joyfully.   Watch their rosy cheeked faces as they gleefully create a snowman in the crisp air.  Cherish their tiny fingers as they bake a cake with you.  Laugh with them as you dig a great big hole in the soft dirt together.  Quietly walk down a forest path with one another.  Or, just simply be still with them.  Take the time!
 
It is not time wasted.  It is a gift to our souls from the Spirit Children.  I wonder...if we all were in the moment with our children...and we let them take us to a higher plane of our own spirits, as Dr. Montessori believed they would...what might happen in our universe? 
 
Article Submitted by: Illyce Kaarto, Montessori Children's House of Denver
Colorado Montessorians unite! Support Montessori advocacy in Colorado while also enjoying the benefits of networking, community forums and discounts on events, including great speakers like David Kahn, Jackie Cossentino, Tim Seldin and Phil Gang!  
 
Without members like you, CMA's work to ensure Montessori training for QRIS quality raters and the passing of House Bill 1276 allowing breakable waivers for Montessori schools wouldn't be possible...
 
If you aren't already a member, click here to sign up now. 

Raising Caring Children


Empathy Through Literature
By Gina Abegg


The holidays invited us all to reach out with food banks and giving tree and other service projects. It is important that our children are involved with acts of compassion all through the year. Here are some resources for connecting children to charitable actions through literature.
Have you and your school been involved with a service project that you would like others to know about? Send me details, including your name, your school information, the organization information and a brief story of how children were involved. We would like to include such stories in future newsletters.
Article Submitted by: Gina Abegg, The Compassionate Way
Montessori Advocacy and Activism:
Submitted by: Montessori Parent, Lynn Roberts

Our public Montessori schools have been highly impacted by Colorado Senate Bill 191, passed in 2010 and in the process of being fully implemented this year. In practice, SB 191 alters Montessori curriculum, offers a weak assessment of our teachers and their training in child development and time-tested pedagogy, reduces educational diversity, institutionalizes achievement gaps, and harms relationships between those who historically have been allies in children's best interests. Please consider signing the linked petition and recommending it to others!
 
CMA is not taking a position on this petition at this time.
ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Congratulations to DCS Montessori for mention in 5280 Magazine!
5280's November Article entitled "Education 2014: Minding The Bottom Line" mentions DCS Montessori as one of Colorado's top public schools. Congratulations DCS Montessori!
 
Member Schools can now sport the CMA "Member Program" Logo on their websites!
If you are a CMA member school or organization in good standing, it’s worth sharing that information!   That you have chosen to partner with other Montessori programs in the state gives additional credibility to not only your school, but Montessori education in general.
 
You are invited to add this “CMA Member Program” logo to your website, or use it in print publications.  We ask that you complete a “CMA Logo Use Application Form”, and send a signed copy to CMA via email to: coloradomontessoriassociation@gmail.com. Upon receipt of a signed agreement, we will respond to your email with a digital version of the program member logo shown below for your use.  
 
CMA NEEDS YOU!
 
Get Involved with CMA... 
Editor Needed
  • CMA is in need of an editor with both editing skills and tech savvy to help compile our monthly newsletter. The time commitment is between 2-6 hours per month. Please email us at coloradomontessoriassociation@gmail.com if you are interested in finding out more!
Articles & Images Needed - Submission deadline: the 3rd Friday of each month.
  • Are you a published author or photographer? Would you like to be? Submit your original work to CMA by the 3rd Friday of each month with the possibility of having your photographs and/or article selected for one of the future newsletters. Submit photographs and articles for consideration to CMA at coloradomontessoriassociation@gmail.com with a copy of your article and some details about yourself. (CMA reserves the right to edit all material prior to publication). 
Be a member!
  • If you aren't already, sign up to become a member of the Colorado Montessori Association, by clicking here.  
  • If you are already a member, don't forget to renew your membership now!
JOB POSTINGS
***************************************************************************************************************
If you have a position that you would like to see posted in the CMA newsletter, please contact us with your position information at:

coloradomontessoriassociation@gmail.com 


Cost:  $35.00 per month for Member Schools, $75.00 per month for Non-Member Schools. 

Position posting deadline is the 3rd Friday of each month for the coming month's newsletter.

To become a CMA member school, click here.
POINTS OF INTEREST

Matching Alphabet Beans
from: Pinterest and The Imagination Tree
Alphabet beans matching activity- great for learning the alphabet! @imaginationtree 
Landform Flip Chart
From Pinterest and Lapaz Home Learning
I love this landform booklet idea...
Identifying Feelings
From Pinterest and Still Playing School
All About My Feelings: Identifying Emotions with Self Portraits from Still Playing School
Clouds Classified by Altitude
From Pinterest and The Inspired Classroom
Clouds Classified by Altitude
 
CMA Board of Directors
 
Kathryn Ross - President
RB Fast - Vice President
Rachel Averch - Secretary

Katy Myers - Treasurer
Sheila Wolfe
Lyn Mead
Karen Farquharson
Jim Barrett
Martha Teien
Lionel Espanoza

January Board Meeting:
January 27, 2015 * 4:00-6:00 pm
Montessori Del Mundo


Contact us by e*mail
Join CMA Today!

Member Benefits:

  • Two program administrators are enrolled at no extra charge.
  • Lead teachers receive a $10 discount on membership.
  • Discounts on admission to CMA sponsored professional development events.
  • Featured on CMA website with a link to the school’s website.
  • $40 discount on job advertisements in the CMA newsletter.
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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 photos or noteworthy events that you would like to share in the CMA Newsletter?  If so, please e*mail CMA! The deadline for newsletter submitting is the 3rd Friday of each month for the coming month's newsletter.
Edited by: Rachel Averch