March 30, 2015

Montessori Monday: Help Me 2 Help Myself

I recently came across a math problem that I needed to find the exact measurement. I used everything I knew to tried to figured it out, I would even get numbers that appeared right but were somewhat off. I was determined to find the answer. After much research, light bulbs and wheels turned in my head.  I arrived at the answer after trying it out multiple times!  How did I know I was right? A friend with savvy math knowledge glanced over and smiled. And there before my eyes, I experienced Montessori.

Not only did I get it, but what an amazing feeling I got from it. I realized the importance of independent learning through real work. As an educator, of course I know that's important! But I lived it to remember and that changed everything. However, the joy quickly took a path of its own.  It brought to my attention my teaching practices in my own classroom.

As a teacher, I find myself caught up in the pressure trying to teach it all, especially in a public school, that I forget the most essential part, the child . The great news is that Maria Montessori wrote about these types of issues. Her advice has been to "help the child to act for himself, will for himself and to think for himself." And she is absolutely right! By figuring out that mumbo jumbo of a math problem, it was proof that intellectually we all possess innate knowledge to help us make sense of the world.  

I reached the conclusion that I needed to observe for signs of readiness. And just how I was allowed to make my own discovery, children need that opportunity as well to grow. It was time for me to be at the sideline, observing them and them knowing that I am just a called away. 
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March 26, 2015

The Beginning

A quick story how Long Wing Montessori came to be... Right after graduating college, I knew I wanted to work in a Montessori school. I was lucky that my first interview was for a Montessori school. There aren't many Montessori school around my area and the few that there are, teachers don’t just get up and leave. They stay till forever and I couldn't wait for forever! I was fresh out of training with hopes and dream, I was determined. So, I accepted the job at a public Montessori school. I thought it was dream come true or so I thought.

I inherited the dump. That was the name of my room. I thought it was more of a mixture between a dump and a store. Literally, everyone would come and dump all their unwanted materials or would shop around and take it back to their classroom. No matter from what angle I looked at it, it was a mess!

I had no idea how I was going to pull a beautiful Montessori environment. I spend countless hours sorting and cleaning to face the reality that I inherited an ugly room full of old stuff. Seriously, I found papers dating back to 1990 (I took the position back in 2010)! The majority of the lessons where either black and white or had clear thick tape being used as laminate. The quality was low and the picture on some of those lessons,oh boy!  That year we had many history lessons to say the least.

I found myself making many of the lessons and experimenting with different materials to make it perfect, while keeping in mind that all the material in the classroom should be beautiful to appeal to the child. And that’s how Long Wing Montessori began. 
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