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CMA OCTOBER 2014 NEWSLETTER
Mission
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.
 
This Thursday, October 9th, 5:00-7:00p.m
 
CMA will be hosting a Meet and Greet at the new RAFT location!  This will be a great opportunity to meet and visit with other people in the Colorado Montessori community, hear a talk on "Raising Caring Children" from Gina Abegg of The Compassionate Way Consulting, and enter to win raffle prizes including a parent talk from P. Donohue Shortridge, two memberships to RAFT and a set of blocks by Steven Fast.
 
See the "Upcoming Community Events"
section below for all of the exciting details!
Male and Female Brains
by Rachel Averch, AMS
   
Last month, Michael Gurian was in Boulder speaking at an event hosted by Jarrow Montessori, the Naropa Institute and CMA. It was a wonderful talk about "male" and "female" brains and the information that science has been able to gather about some of the differences through brain scans and extensive research. He specifically spoke about how that understanding can help better inform our instruction, our classroom environments, and how we as educators respond to certain types of behaviors.  According to Michael Gurian, there are as many different types of brains as there are different types of people, and brain type isn't necessarily gender-specific.  However, consistent patterns emerged for a large enough portion of each gender group when researched, so they named the general patterns "male" and "female" brains accordingly.

Although somewhat skeptical at first as a woman who has always felt that gender labels were dangerous and restrictive, I have to say that what I learned that evening was fascinating, hilarious (at times), and the information rang much more true for me than I had expected.  After leaving the workshop, I went home to my 3 boys (husband and two teenage sons) and decided to do some research of my own. I told them all about it to see their reactions. Each of them confirmed overwhelmingly for me that the information I had learned about the "male" brain was dead-on (apparently all 3 of the boys in my home also have "male" brains).

The research Michael Gurian described can provide us with a much deeper understanding of why statistically-speaking so many boys have historically struggled in our traditional school systems, even with the most well-intentioned teachers.  Qualities that are more specific to the way that a "female" brain naturally functions, like the ability to attentively listen for extended periods of time, well developed impulse control sections of the brain, being naturally drawn to remembering details, and being able to process feelings verbally with ease are also things that help with increased success in most school settings. Learning this made me feel even more grateful for our Montessori philosophy, where different styles of learning are all a part of the curriculum and are all deeply respected.

A few days after attending the workshop, one of our 3 year-old male students was asked to leave his classroom because he was knocking things down and disrupting the other children's work. Even outside of the classroom, he was really struggling to control his body. I had just learned that "male" brains process language in the left hemisphere and process their emotions and their visual-spatial awareness together in the right hemisphere, making talking about how they are feeling extremely difficult, and also making expressing feelings physically much more natural for those with "male" brains. 

I was curious if my young friend might have a "male" brain, so I asked him: "Is your body feeling really angry or sad, like it wants to move angry and sad?" He stopped moving entirely, looked at me with surprise and nodded enthusiastically, but with apprehension in his eyes. I told him, "It's OK for your body to feel that way, and it's OK for you to feel that way. Do you want to make a picture about it or run until it feels better?" I noticed his tightly-wound body relax slightly right before he ran over to me and hugged me as tightly as he could without saying a word. It appeared to me that he was incredibly relieved to be understood rather than judged for needing to express his feelings physically instead of verbally.  Simply understanding that and providing some socially acceptable ways for him to do what he was wired to do seemed to make all the difference in the world.  Thank you Michael Gurian!

Article Submitted by: Rachel Averch, AMS
President, Montessori Children's House of Denver
Secretary, Colorado Montessori Association


Please note that there was so much fabulous information from Michael Gurian's talk and his books, that there simply isn't room for all of it here. But, if you are interested in finding out more about the differences between "male" and "female" brains and ways you can use that information to help support greater success with both those you care about in the classroom and at home, I highly recommend visiting the Gurian Institute's website, and buying one of his many fabulous books.
UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS:
 
CMA Annual Meet and Greet

What:       2014 CMA Annual Meet and Greet
Speaker:  Gina Abegg from The Compassionate Way Consulting
Topic:       Raising Caring Children
When:      Thursday, October 9th, 2014, 5:00-7:00 pm
Where:     RAFT3827 Steele St #C, Denver, CO 80205
  • Come and join us to meet other members of our Montessori community! 
  • Gina will be sharing ideas for little acts of kindness, natural service through the year, and charitable organizations that children can participate in meaningfully.  Please bring your own ideas to share!
  • Raffle prizes include: a parent talk by P. Donohue Shortridge, two memberships to RAFT, and a set of blocks from Steve Fast
  • Please note that RAFT has a new location, and it's a little tricky to get to.  Click here for directions.

Directors' Network Meetings
 
October Meeting
What:       Directors' Network Meeting
Speaker:  Betsy Hoke
When:      Thursday, October 16th, 2014, 1:00-3:00 pm
Where:     Community Montessori 805 Gillaspie Dr,  Boulder CO, 80305
Topic:       Effective Communication with Staff and Parents
 
November Meeting
What:       Directors' Network Meeting
Speaker:  Lisa Armao
When:      Thursday, November 20th, 2014, 1:00-3:00 pm
Where:     Montessori School of Washington Park, 320 S. Sherman, Denver 80209
Topic:       Resonant Leadership, Inspirational Staff-Mettings, and In-service Ideas

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!

 
Parenting Safe Children

What:  A workshop empowering adults to keep children safe from sexual abuse
Speaker:   Feather Berkower
When: Tuesday, November 18th, 2014, 5:30-9:15pm
Where:  Montessori School of Washington Park, 320 South Sherman St. Denver, CO 80209
Topic: . Parenting Safe Children
Cost: . $53.75 per person (materials included)
Registration: . www.parentingsafechildren.com

Click here for flyer with details.

Letter From the President...

October 2014
 
Dear CMA Members and Friends,
 
The Colorado Montessori Association board came together last May to review our goals and consider how they might be met.  Mugs of coffee and tea and a potluck breakfast fueled us as we talked.  There are nine of us and we hail from both private and public/charter schools and AMS, AMI and MEPI backgrounds.  Some of us have been involved in Montessori education for over 35 years.  Some of us are most familiar with the issues facing urban schools and others those facing rural Montessori schools.  We have worn many hats, some officially and some simply because the role of an adult in a school for children must be malleable - director, principal, janitor, teacher, cook, consultant, counselor, parent, advocate, nurse, substitute teacher, substitute director, Montessori teacher-trainer, Montessori school board member, and parent-educator.  We try hard to speak for the entire Colorado Montessori community, although sometimes that is challenging because the goals of one group, at best, are not necessarily the goals of another.  At worst, their goals have the potential to conflict. 
 
This is our 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. 
 
As we sat around our crowded breakfast in May, we divided our goals into the following categories:  Professional Development; Membership; Advocacy; and Outreach, or the Development of Partnerships.  We spoke of our need to communicate and market our work.  All of these goals revolve around the over-arching effort to support Montessori education in the state of Colorado. 
 
We also spoke of how we might measure our success.  What are our metrics?  How do we measure how we are doing with children? As the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Humans Services continue to measure the success of our schools by their metrics – what are ours?  How do we communicate them to both parents and Colorado governmental organizations? 
 
We considered priorities – what comes first?  As we operate in the spin of educational politics, and even the spin created by the different challenges facing private Montessori programs and their public/charter neighbors, how can we keep our balance? How can we find the commonality in our various Montessori programs?  What is our essence?
 
If you have read this far, you note the question marks.  They reflect my personal position as one who sometimes metaphorically flits to the top of the room, perches in a safe corner, and listens.  What I hear is often frustration with the system and its seeming lack of understanding of how children develop and learn.  I hear Montessori educators who strongly believe in what they do because they have seen it work miracles.
 
A Montessori classroom is not hierarchical.  The teacher, often called a guide, works beside children who each have an internal human spark that urges them to learn.  Although working with an adult who can step in, and quickly, when guidance is needed, they are a mixed-aged and mixed-experienced group that has much to offer to each other.  Their organization and mode of operation could be called bottom-up, collaborative, creative – human.   Independent work builds individuals who, as they become older and move through periods of development, can communication and share ideas.  A class becomes a community.
 
The Colorado Montessori Association is not unlike a Montessori classroom.  Although we lack walls, shelves, and materials, we also aim to develop a community who, through communication, becomes stronger.  We aim to develop a message of clarity with which we can respond in discussions of the Common Core Standards, school testing, or QRIS standards.   We aim to create partnerships between our schools, between governmental entities and ourselves, and between ourselves and other state and national organizations that also promote Montessori educational principles. 
 
Like a mixed-age Montessori environment, CMA members are individually varied, ranging from student interns to retired heads of school.  Member schools are also varied in how they interpret and practice Montessori.  Each of us has something to learn and something to teach.  Ask yourself how you might reach out to us, and how we might reach out to you.   How might you share the issues that trouble you with us so that we can more effectively develop a network of support? 

Our goals of advocacy, building membership, professional development, and partnership only make sense if they are in the context of a community.   This is who we are and we hope to know each of you.  Come to the Meet and Greet on Thursday if this week and say hello – carry on the process of building on our strengths. 
 
Kathryn Ross, President – president@coloradomontessoriassociation.org
RB Fast – Vice President - rbfast@beelineconsulting.net
Rachel Averch, Secretary – coloradomontessoriassociation@gmail.com
Katy Myers, Treasurer – treasurer@coloradomontessoriassociation.org
Lyn Mead, Membership  – membership@coloradomontessoriassociation.org
Jim Barrett  - enterpriseps@warp8.com
Martha Teien – mteien@mtnmontessori.org
Sheila Wolfe – sheila.wolfe@dcsdk12.org
Karen Farquarson – karen@montessoridelmundo.org
 
Sincerely,
Kathryn Ross
President, CMA

TEACHER TIP - OCTOBER

A Montessori Moment
By Illyce Kaarto


"There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all of the life to be found around them in a real forest." ~Dr. Montessori

"Why is this even a word problem?" they lamented. "It doesn't make sense!" "Why would her swim meet scores be so good...and be so consistent...and then drop so suddenly?" "Was the pool too cold one day?" "Was she sick?" "Was she worried about something else that day and that affected her performance?" "Maybe the scorekeeper fell asleep?" "Will her next competition be better?" "What did her friends say?" "Will she quit swimming?"  "I wonder who writes these problems for us?" "I wonder what makes a good word problem?"
And on and on and on...
 
I was overwhelmed as I eavesdropped on this heated conversation of a small group of Montessori students the other day. As all of us are happily familiar with, it was definitely one of those Montessori moments we are all fortunate to have in our lives. Not only were they deeply interested in the nuances of this most benign word problem, but their curiosity was so natural to them. Authentic passion fueled their debate. They weren't trying to think outside the box...they simply were!

Of course, when they finally and easily solved the problem, it wasn't even the solution that was important. It was the marvel of the process!  I was awestruck as I was reminded, in this Montessori moment, of the remarkable tenacity and grit of Montessori children. This fruitful collaboration, meaningful inquiry, and productive creativity exists inherently in each child...and the various wonders of our Montessori philosophy enable this to be revealed in each child.  But that day, what struck me most was that these were whole children who were fully present, and wholly enveloped in a powerful process. Their flow emanated outward so beautifully and as I watched, I was grateful.

I thought about our future. I saw these Montessori students 10 years from now...together...still full of grit, still whole, still curious, and still in that powerful flow...searching for answers to our largest and most universal problems. Disease. Hunger. War. World peace. And I was grateful for Montessori.
 
The laws governing the universe can be made interesting and wonderful
to the child, more interesting even than things in themselves, and he
begins to ask: What am I? What is the task of man in this wonderful
universe? Do we merely live here for ourselves, or is there something
more for us to do? Why do we struggle and fight? What is good and
evil? Where will it all end? [Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human
Potential, translator unknown]
 
Article Submitted by: Illyce Kaarto
ANNOUNCEMENTS:
 
Call for Presenters - Montessori In The Mountains: Estes Park Retreat
Save September 25-27, 2015 for the second "Montessori in the Mountains" Conference Retreat at the YMCA Conference Center in Estes Park. This event is sponsored by Montessori Education Center of the Rockies and proposals from presenters are currently invited. (Deadline for proposals is 9/30/14). Please e-mail Dot Thompson dt@mecr.edu to request a Proposal Form or if you have any questions. Retreat registration will start in January 2015.
 
 
Member Schools can now sport the CMA "Member Program" Logo on their websites!
If you are a member school, and you want to show your connection to CMA on your website or handouts, you now can by just completing a copy of this Use Agreement form and sending it to CMA by email. Once received, CMA will send you a jpg copy of the CMA "Member Program" Logo (image below) to use in accordance with the agreement.

CMA thanks you for your support and your interest in using the CMA logo in association with your school. We see it as the highest compliment!
 
CMA Member School News
  • A huge congratulations to Ross Montessori Charter School,  who in addition to celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, also just purchased 3 acres of land for a new school building!
  • Click here to see a map of the CMA member schools.
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To share news about your school, please contact us at coloradomontessoriassociation@gmail.com 
JOB POSTINGS
Assistant Teachers

Mountain Shadows Montessori School


Mountain Shadows Montessori School in Boulder is hiring! We are seeking a Primary Classroom assistant, available immediately and an Assistance to Infancy classroom assistant beginning in December. Visit the employment section of our website for more information. 

http://www.mountainshadows.org/about/employment-2/

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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.
CMA NEEDS YOU!
 
Get Involved with CMA... 
Articles Needed - Submission deadline: the 3rd Friday of each month.
  • Are you a published author? Would you like to be? Submit your original work to CMA by the 3rd Friday of each month with the possibility of having your article selected for one of the future newsletters. Submit 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!
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!  
 
If you aren't already a member, click here to sign up now. 
POINTS OF INTEREST


Fall Themed Sink or Float Activity
from: Pinterest and Little Bins for Little Hands
 Montessori-Inspired Poetry Activities (Photo from http://chasingcheerios.blogspot.com/2011/07/our-summer-poetry-basket.html  Roundup post from http://livingmontessorinow.com/2012/04/24/montessori-inspired-poetry-activities/). Lots of ideas for both parents and teachers - preschool through elementary.
Tweezing Indian Corn
From Pinterest and Teaching 2 & 3 Year Olds
TWEEZING CORN This is a favorite fine motor activities in November. It can be a challenge to tweeze those little kernels off the cob, but oh so rewarding!
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


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 teacher tips, 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.
Edited by: Rose Henson