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Kathy’s Insights

Insights on the Montessori method and Early Childhood Education from Dr. Kathy Roemer

A Match Made in Montessori

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In continuation of my series interviewing our teachers, I would like to introduce Elizabeth Powell. Elizabeth is one of our early childhood teachers at our Twin Parks Riverside Campus. Read on to learn more about Elizabeth.

In Elizabeth’s own words:

I was born and raised in Scotch Plains, New Jersey and up until just last week this was my parents’ home, until they moved.  I am the middle child, I have an older brother and younger sister. I spent all of my schooling and extracurricular in that town until I went to college.

For my undergraduate degree, I studied at Misericordia University, formally known as College Misericordia in Dallas, Pennsylvania. I graduated in December 2004 with a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Studies.

In July 2007, I graduated from Christopher Academy Teacher Education Program with my 2 1/2-6 training from the American Montessori Society.

My graduate studies were done at Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii, I graduated in December 2008. I graduated with a Masters of Education specific to Montessori Education. In July 2015, I graduated from Princeton Montessori School’s Leadership Course.

I often feel like I have been in school for my entire life, which is probably why I love being a teacher so much. I remember growing up and always playing teacher with my friends when we had our play dates. Now being a teacher myself, I can see that everything my mom did for us growing up and preparing us for life was always the Montessori way.  She prepared our environment and we thrived.

I met my husband in Jersey City at the Montessori school where we both were teaching in 2011. We just got married in August, 2016, and we live in Jersey City with our pit bull, Blade. In our free time, you will find us volunteering for various organizations such as Liberty Humane Society and Rett Syndrome, Girl Power 2 Cure.

Elizabeth and Brendan

Elizabeth and Brendan

What influenced you to become a Montessori teacher?

My mom was a Montessori teacher and I remember going with her when I was little to take her classes. I also got to go to school sometimes in her classroom after I was done at my school, so I was able to see her teaching and working with her students. I remember my mom bringing home the tying frame so that I could learn how to tie my own shoes.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Definitely my big brother, he was always there to make sure I was safe, except for the time I had to get stitches when we were home alone and did not listen to the rules my parents left for us.

Who do you consider your role models?

My parents, they have just entered retirement and they are happy and healthy. They raised my brother, my sister and I and a lot of our successes can be attributed to what they did for us growing up.

Do you find working with Early Childhood children rewarding? Why?

Absolutely! Everyday is a new learning experience and being able to be a part of a child’s milestones in life is the best feeling in the world.

What do you hope to share with your students?

A love of learning and to always keep trying even if things are difficult.

Elizabeth with one of her students.

Elizabeth with one of her students.

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Emotional Agility

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When we face times of concern, or issues beyond our control, we feel emotionally drained. For the past many months we have all been exposed to a lack of kindness and humility due to the Presidential election cycle and its media coverage. For me it seemed to be a war between the states, with some friends and family members entirely disagreeing with my opinion of how the election should turn out.

For those of us with young children in our homes, or who work with young children, understand that children are listening even when you think they are not. They also read our non-verbal cues really well and they quickly pick up on our feelings. In all times of stress, upset, or anger, we need to be particularly careful with our interactions around our children. Sometimes we may be animatedly talking on the telephone and not realize that little ears are hearing every word!

If the election resulted with your preferred candidate winning, your family is probably gleeful and celebrating. But what do we tell our children after an election when the results are not what we expected and we feel unhappy and/or depressed?

Dr. Ali Michael, wrote a great article for the Huffington Post, titled, “What Do We Tell The Children?” Her first message is that we tell them that we will protect them. Children who feel safe from harm are emotionally ready for other challenges that the world has to offer. Sometimes we need that kind of emotional agility, too.

Just as we teach children to feel it, show it, label it and watch it go, we need reminders ourselves. Dr. Susan David wrote a book, Emotional Agility, which outlines ways for us to “get unstuck, embrace change and thrive in work and life.” Dr. David draws on extensive research and decades of international consulting. Basically, we can all thrive in an uncertain world by becoming emotionally agile.

As I read the book, I can think of several people I want to share it with – including all of you!

Watch this video to see Dr. David talk about Emotional Agility.

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Encouragement vs. Praise

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When I was raising my children the go-to experts at the time said to accentuate the positive and go heavy on the praise. Of course we wanted our children to know that they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up. Too much praise didn’t exist. We thought we were demonstrating our 100% support and this enthusiastic, positive praise would not spoil our children.

I did notice that children quickly learned to expect praise. If clapping or exclamation did not follow their attempts to perform daily activities, they became anxious and sort of obnoxious doing it over and over again until an adult noticed. What message did this give to children about their self worth? Dr. Stephen Hughes shared that some children develop narcissistic tendencies when they were exposed to constant praise.*

After learning about Montessori and the difference between praise and encouragement, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, I had different thoughts about how to be my children’s best advocate. How do we give children credit for a job well done and help support a positive self-esteem if we don’t talk about what they are doing? This is where encouragement comes in.

Encouragement is the action of giving someone support, confidence and hope. Encouragement makes someone more determined, and is the act of making something more appealing. Encouraging statements are specific to the accomplishment to give focus to the exact behavior. You can offer support by noticing the details of children’s efforts and shows that you are paying attention.

For example:

Instead of saying “Awesome!” you can say something specific, such as, “You washed your hands without being told to.” Or “You did it yourself!” or “You listened very carefully.”

Instead of “Your painting is so beautiful, I like it” say “You used a lot of colors in your picture, tell me about it.”

Jane Nelson, of Positive Discipline has these guidelines for those who want to change from praise to encouragement. She suggest keeping these questions in mind.

  • Am I inspiring self-evaluation or dependence on the evaluation of others?
  • Am I being respectful or patronizing?
  • Am I seeing the child’s point of view or only my own?
  • Would I make this comment to a friend?

Giving children external physical rewards like stickers, toys or treats for doing well or meeting expectations only lasts for a few moments. Encouraging children for their efforts and being helpful develops intrinsic motivation. This is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Intrinsically motivated children are able to delay gratification, persist, and helps them to become life long learners.

Research by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. a professor at Columbia University, has now proven what Adler taught years ago. Praise is not good for children. Dweck found that praise can hamper risk taking. Children who were praised for being smart when they accomplished a task chose easier tasks in the future. They didn’t want to risk making mistakes. On the other hand, children who were “encouraged” for their efforts were willing to choose more challenging tasks when given a choice.Dr. Carol Dweck’s research on mindsets is fascinating. Please watch her video about the effects of praise.

 

 

 

* Dr. Stephen Hughes, November 2, 2016, presentation at Resurrection Episcopal School, New York, NY.

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From India to NYC: A Montessori Teacher’s Story

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Isha Joshi came to visit me in my office 2 years ago.  A colleague at the American Montessori Society office, Abby Kelly, told Isha to come and see Twin Parks Montessori Schools and to talk with me. She told me the story of her journey to becoming a Montessori Teacher. Isha’s passion for learning about Montessori and her desire to be a teacher inspired me to support her efforts by hiring her as an intern in our school. I have never regretted my decision to add this remarkable women to our community. Isha is kind, generous and a good friend to all. Read on for more about Isha’s story.

Isha Joshi in her Montessori classroom

What influenced you to become a Montessori teacher?

Being an educator and a parent I had always heard about Montessori Philosophy. Moving to New York gave me an opportunity to learn and experience it. Learning more about Montessori Philosophy, and its methodology and to obtain Montessori Credentials was one of the factors my husband and I had when deciding to move to New York. Montessori helped me rediscover my inner self and it has been a life changing experience as an educator and as a parent.

I moved to New York City with my family in September 2014.  I immediately associated myself with the American Montessori Society. Despite my teaching experience of a few years, I had never seen a Montessori class, this was my first experience in a Montessori classroom as an “observer”. I experienced something special: I stood in a Montessori class looking at the red and the blue rods thinking about the purpose of those vibrant, colorful segments on different sizes of the rods. Then I saw a child polishing a shoe, and then my eyes moved around and I noticed a child carrying the Pink Cubes from one end of the classroom to the other end. I wondered, what was the need for the child to carry the work from one end to another. There were many questions popping up, many unanswered. I wanted to find out how it worked, I wanted to learn more about Montessori philosophy, method, and its approach. I was eager to learn how it could make such a difference to children’s lives, how it could brings joy to learning, what is freedom within limits, what is freedom of choice, why a teacher is called a directress in Montessori, what the teachers role as an observer meant, why would a teacher step back rather than intervene in a child’s learning? That moment and those unanswered questions drove me towards learning more about Montessori.

The fundamental basis of Montessori philosophy is so powerful that it provided a sound satisfaction to my teaching needs. I was able to find in it an approach that strengthens my teaching fundamentals significantly. This has resulted in my growing interest and utmost faith in Montessori teaching methods.

Who were your childhood heroes?

I don’t recall idolizing any particular hero during my childhood. However, I was always inspired and motivated by my parents who have always gone out of their way to support me, to teach me to be truthful, to differentiate between right and wrong, and to be emphatic towards others. They have always been by my side during difficult times. My childhood was also influenced a lot by my teachers, friends and relatives who helped me find my place in a closely knit society that is diverse in culture, traditions and values.

Who do you consider your role models?

I have always emulated those women who have excelled in their lives and have reached to the top of their carrier ladder with their grit, determination and sacrifice. For instance India’s first woman Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the creator of the Montessori Methods of Education –Dr. Maria Montessori. All these women have one thing in common and that is that they have inspired millions of women and men, including myself.

I have also been inspired by my ex- colleague Matti Turri, a Montessori teacher, with whom I did my internship. Her guidance drives me to make efforts to reach my full potential. I have also counted on the support and love of both my husband and brother who have held my hand in all of my actions. I, myself, hope to someday become a role model to someone!

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Odd and Even numeral work with students

Isha working with the Broad Stair with her students.

Isha working with the Broad Stair with her students.

Do you find working with Early Childhood children rewarding? Why?

Yes, I do think and feel working with early childhood children is rewarding. I love to be with children as each day brings a new, unexpected moment of inspiration and joy.  It is incredibly inspiring watching them work, learn and grow. It gives me great pleasure observing the child immensely pleased, peaceful and rested after the most strenuous concentration on tasks they choose to independently do.

I enjoy the early childhood phase of development. I learn so much from this age group. I love communicating with this age group, I love to see and understand how their young minds work. This age is an age of little thinkers and philosophers. I celebrate their success and achievements whether they are large or small. I feel that being a Montessori teacher is a mesmerizing, privileged experience to observe and support the inner self of the child and celebrate each moment.

What do you hope to share with your children?

My efforts are towards sharing Maria Montessori’s vision of a peaceful world by providing the opportunity to the children to experience and practice respect for humanity. Children have to be prepared to serve their community and learn to contribute to a larger common good. I hope to support the child’s natural curiosity, the inner thirst of the child who is passionate about the world around him. Love, compassion and passion are important in facilitating the child’s learning and development process.

Each child is unique, they have different inner sensibilities and potential. I hope to fulfill the  individual needs of each child by paying attention to their sensitivities, capabilities and by providing them with the prepared environment according to their specific needs.

Anything else that you would like to share?

I am a passionate baby Montessorian. I was born in India, in a small town called Dehradun near the Himalayan foothills. I traveled around the globe from one part to another after every few years due to my husband’s profession, a serving Diplomat who is presently working with the United Nations here in New York. I am glad to be a part of the Montessori world where I can imbibe and spread Maria Montessori’s philosophy and methodology wherever I go.

 

 

 

 

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Community Values and Relationships

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Our Montessori school culture is the wide-angle view of our shared mission, values, attitudes and behaviors. Relationships grow out of how we treat one another and our traditions and activities that reflect collaboration and collegiality. It can also be felt in the natural order of things and the unwritten set of rules that adults and children live by. The feel of our culture is so palpable that most visitors experience it immediately when entering our schools. Twin Parks Montessori Schools’ culture is where the journey of learning begins.

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Our faculty and staff sharing values together

Our faculty and staff sharing values together

There are many commonalities within the intimate community of our schools:  children are precious beings in our care; family time is important and protected; excellent education is vital; creativity, independence and intrinsic motivation are important life skills; and, we rely on one another to help our children experience success. The location of our schools in New York City also provides a globally diverse experience for our community.

Twin Parks’ faculty and staff communicate their shared values and build relationships. First, we are all responsible for our students’ learning. Our conversations with each other are positive and collaborative in support of serving our students and families. We are partners with parents regarding the growth and development of our students. We strive for cordial, collegial and encouraging communication with parents. Our weekly “peeks” at the activities in the classrooms, our whole school newsletters, blog, emails, socials, and coffee chats all helpto bring a greater level of understanding to our parents of what we do at school.

We also communicate our values to our students. Children learn how to take care of their specially prepared classrooms. They become keepers of their environments, classroom pets and plants. Teachers model the relationship behaviors that they know result in students’ successful communication with each other by using their words. Students learn how to take care of one another and the classroom community as a whole. Students know they belong and are valued as members of the community.

Our school culture is demonstrated by the way we make decisions. Ultimately, I make the final determinations. However, every employee has the opportunity to share his/her voice in making these decisions. Faculty meetings come alive with brainstorming and sharing of experiences – all of which help with thinking before deciding. Teachers have opportunities to interact around their craft and improve their teaching in a collaborative atmosphere.  We all work together to build a better school.  In addition, Parents’ Voice, a group of parents with representation from each classroom, meets with me monthly to explore ways to enrich our students’ and families’ experiences at Twin Parks Montessori Schools.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of our school culture is our teachers’ attitudes towards their work and their continuous efforts toward improvement. Research has shown that teachers have greater efficacy when they are provided with high quality professional development. We value current research about children and adult growth and development and strive to bring quality presentations to our school.

This first decade of life is the time when children are developing their personalities and moral compasses.  At no other time is overall growth so pronounced and rapidly changing.  Perhaps the most influential teachers are those that a child experiences during his/her first 10 years. These first teachers assist the child and his/her family as they negotiate their physical, behavioral, cognitive and social development. Your decision to enroll at one of Twin Parks Montessori Schools enables your child to experience and excel in an environment tailored to his/her developmental needs with materials that will provide comfort and challenges.

This past year, each teacher reflected on what s/he values.  For many, family rose to the top of the list. As is true for so many of you, family is considered first when making decisions.  Honesty, trust, integrity, love and personal growth were high on the list. Each year we reflect on our personal experiences and best practices as they are demonstrated through our work with our students. And so our cycle of discovery, strategic planning, and renewal that reinforces our shared purpose and values, and strengthens our school community, begins again!

May our love, values and community shine through and allow students’ physical, social and academic development thrive! Twin Parks Montessori Schools are places where the journey of learning begins!

 

Teachers enjoying their time together

Teachers enjoying their time together

Let’s put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.

~Chief Sitting Bull~

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Men in Montessori: A Teachers’ Story

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Everyone has a story about how they evolved in their career path and purpose in life. Over the next month, I will share some of Twin Parks Montessori School’s teachers’ stories about their journey to becoming a Montessori teacher. For the first in the series, I invited Jeff Frank, who has been working with us for 9 years to present his perspective of men in Montessori. Enjoy!

Jeff Frank and his family.

Jeff Frank and his family.

What influenced you to become a Montessori teacher?

For years I had volunteered my time supporting single parent friends, through a non-parent coop. I also volunteered my time as an anatomy teacher in a loosely run “free school.” I have always enjoyed working with kids. During the same time I was teaching adult anatomy classes as well as teaching in a massage school. I had a growing desire to change my career. Once my first son, Milo, was born this desire grew stronger. When he was two years old, I began researching Waldorf school and spending time getting to know different pedagogies. I began studying Waldorf education with a series of lectures. Despite my appreciation for their approach to early childhood education, I realized it was not a good fit for me as a teacher. I began reading The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori which spoke about children in a way that I had never considered. The degree of respect and potential she saw in children was starkly contrasted by the conditions in which children were being exposed to. She referred to children in desks, as butterflies pinned behind glass. As a community activist and a firm believer in progressive education I began to see working with children as more than a career. I relate my work in the classroom to the work I did as an activist defending old growth forests. 

Who were your childhood heroes?

I am not sure I ever had heroes. I found inspiration in music, particularly punk rock music from a very early age. Ironically, the bands I loved would scoff at the idea of being anyone’s hero. However, I learned that change is possible and it is up to me to do my part. I discovered community, do it yourself politics, and a role model for being a male that is different than the dominant gender role men are often expected to follow.

Who do you consider your role models?

I can identify three major role models and key women who have impacted my life beyond my mother and my wife. As a teenager, Emma Goldman, embodied the revolutionary spirit that helped give meaning and purpose to me, when my high school failed to inspire me. I found hope in fighting for change, in believing in people and community. In my twenties I discovered Ida Rolf, a pioneer in the understanding of how our bodies are organized in relationship to gravity. More so, how our emotions and belief systems shape the way we present ourselves to the world. She too, believed in change. However, she explored change from within the body both physical and emotional. She believed awareness proceeds transformation. Lastly, in my thirties, I discovered Maria Montessori, who has taught me how to put all of my hope, anger, frustration, and love into my work. She taught me that work is something we do for ourselves, not for others. She also provided a medium to express all of that and support children in their process of exploring and making sense out of the world.

Do you find working in Early Childhood education rewarding? Why?

I find working with children incredibly rewarding. As a parent I see how important teachers are to my children. I see the power teachers have to cultivate wonder, confidence, compassion, empathy, inquiry, love and so much more. I believe our community both local and global, needs all of these things and so much more. I aspire to offer children all of these things in a fun way that is mutually beneficial to me as well as the children.

What do you hope to share with your students?

A playful approach to learning. I hope to model a way of living that demonstrates the joy of learning and being part of a community. I hope to inspire questions, ideas, and a belief that our potential is limitless.

Anything else you would like to share?

I know many of my students will never remember me, but I hope the effect I have on their lives as well as their families is creating more peace and creativity in the world. I also hope it’s upping the ante on the way men interact with children.

Jeff Frank and his family.

Jeff Frank and his family.

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How do you keep a Montessori schedule at home?

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One of the key and most difficult components of a schedule is consistency. After the adults finish their workday and come home, their homework begins. Chores like shopping, cooking, bedtime and preparing for the next day are what keep parents up late at night. We all need nourishment and plenty of rest to help us live full lives. Children need these things too. Often the difficulty comes in when there is not enough time between everyone returning home and going to bed. What I hear mostly from parents are two things: we get home so late but still want to spend time with our children so we keep them up later at night, then our children cannot fall asleep or wake up on time in the morning; or, because our children take naps at school, they are not tired and don’t fall asleep until long past our bedtime.

The first thing to do is establish a bedtime for your children and backtrack from there. Our sleep coach, Christina Gantcher*, tells us that young children do need naps during the day. Additionally, the time they go to bed at night should not be more than five (5) hours from the time they wake from their afternoon nap.

The following chart provides a guide for the appropriate sleep time per age.

Age          Night Sleep (hrs.)      Daytime Sleep (hrs.)   Total (hrs.)

3 months                10                              5 (3 naps)                  15

12 months             11.25                       2.5 (2 naps)                 13.75

18 months             11.25                       2.25 (1 nap)                 13.5

2 years                     11                              2 hours                       13

3 years                     10.5                          1.5                               12

4 years                     10.5                          1                                   11.5

*Christina will conduct two Twin Parks Parent Sleep Workshops: October 6, 9:00 a.m. at Central Park campus and November 18 at 9:00 a.m. at Park West Montessori School

If you start with the end goal in mind, 7:30 p.m. bedtime, you can back up everything you need to do in the hours you are home to bedtime. If you get home at 5:30, that gives your family 2 hours to eat, clean, and prepare for bed. The preparation for the next day including packing lunches can happen after the children are in bed.

Dinner together is a time to develop social skills

A bedtime routine should be the same every evening. Dinner, wash up, brush teeth, read books and snuggle, lights out. Children do best when they can predict what comes next in their day. If you usually have time to read 3 books, then set the limit to 3 and stick with it. Your child can choose the 3 books from a group of acceptable books that you make available. This is also a great time for your older child to practice reading skills with you or siblings.

 

 

Reading before bed keeps bonds strong

Reading before bed keeps bonds strong

Positive family preparing lunch together

Children feel important and add value when preparing meals together with parents

 

Many organized parents do the following with their children:

• cook meals ahead on the weekend, prepare cut up vegetables for dinners and have plenty of fresh fruit on hand

• include children in the selection of clothing the night before, making sure all choices are good ones (sandals and shorts are not available in winter)

• pack lunches the night before or choose the catered school lunch option

• wake up before children in the morning, shower, dress and have coffee before breakfast with family

• pack backpacks with your child the night before

• turn off all electronics an hour before bedtime

Change and organization are hard. Just chose one item that you want to change and slowly move towards it. It takes about 2 weeks for a change to become part of a routine. Don’t give up. The reward is manageable evenings and more sleep for you!

 

 

 

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Why Montessori? …A Father’s Perspective

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One of our very observant and involved parents at Twin Parks Montessori Schools, Matthew Mandelbaum*, has shared his observations about his children and our program. His insights are included below.

Why did you choose Twin Parks Montessori School for your child?

I became a teacher, so I could learn to be a father. I became a psychologist to help others reach their full potential. When it came time to choose a program for our daughter, our first child, my wife, a reading specialist, and I knew first hand of the responsibility and the impact that a school and its teachers could have on children and parents. We chose Twin Parks because we were looking for a true school and not a daycare, even for a 9-month-old! We admired the school’s nurturing and academic capacities.

What have you learned about child development and Montessori as a result?

Twin Parks Montessori offers the combination of excellent teaching, curriculum, materials, and mixed-age groupings that allow children to explore their world, develop trust in themselves, and build a firm foundation for now and the future.

How has the experience helped you as a parent?

After our daughter finished four years at Twin Parks, our son spent three years at Twin Parks, too. There is no doubt that as parents, we have to help children make a bridge between home and the surrounding community. Twin Parks does a good job at doing that.

What about Montessori has been most surprising to you?

The most surprising things are the little insights and nuggets of knowledge and skills that children bring home showing what they understand and what they can do. These basic building blocks are so important to them feeling curious and competent. Twin Parks does a great job getting children started in many areas of life and school.

What would you tell a parent who is thinking about enrolling his or her child in Montessori? 

Don’t just think about what the future can offer with a Twin Parks education. Think about your child’s growth and development each and every day. Think about how they can come to enjoy and appreciate the present moment as they come into their own. Think about how much you will grow and change as a person and as a parent while your child matures.

How has your child flourished since attending our Montessori school?

Both children are interested in a variety of ideas, subjects, and hobbies.  They love learning and are kindhearted people.

Anything else you would like to share?

I believe that Twin Parks has been a good investment, both during their tenure and beyond.

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*Dr. Matthew G. Mandelbaum, PhD, MSEd, MA, New York State Licensed Psychologist   http://www.psysoed.com

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School Improvement Through Accreditation: Twin Parks Montessori School’s Experience

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Twin Parks Montessori Schools (TPMS) are in a mode of continuous school improvement. Once an accreditation cycle is completed, the strategic plan incorporated and the recommendations from the visiting team of educators in followed, we begin the process all over again. TPMS is accredited with the American Montessori Society and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. We compiled two self-studies, which involves a thorough examination and documentation of the schools’ governance, curriculum, fiscal and personnel policies, facilities and health and safety practices. Throughout the self-study process I remind our various work groups that this is not my self-study, but theirs; this is an opportunity for teachers and administrators to represent Twin Parks, using their collective knowledge and observations about who we are, and to have their voices and passions heard. We reflect on and write about the characteristics that made our school unique; this moves us from regurgitating “Montessori-ese” about what Montessori teachers do and what our environments provide to digging deeper into the heart of our work and what our programs mean to the families we serve.

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We examine the organizational health of TPMS. A school does not grow in a tidy, linear fashion. Like relationships among people, schools can be messy and frustrating as they develop, change, and blossom. Our school has three campuses, which means three groups of teachers and administrators. At various times during the year, these groups share professional development opportunities and our administrators meet to discuss and plan for our future. Dr. Brené Brown writes, “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment, and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship” (2010, p. 19). Our teams of administrators, whether they focus on admissions or on curriculum programs, must share objectives and must really trust one another.

Each section of our self-study leads to reflection on what we do well and what needs improvement. We focus on three major aspects of our school that we determined needed improvements: student programming and curriculum, professional development for faculty, and building community within and outside of our school. These objectives were written in our strategic plan, which clarifies our primary goals and keeps us anchored, preventing too much valuable time spent on tangents. Communicating this focus and timeline requires reminding everyone about what is really important and what connects to our mission. How many of you have learned that most teachers and parents have to hear what leaders are communicating at least seven times? The key is consistency over time.

It is essential that our employees understand our primary focus and be given a reasonable timeline to complete their work. Just as our students need repetition in their work to internalize concepts, our teachers need to hear the same message in a variety of ways from a variety of people over time to achieve success.

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In our school community, accountability can be a challenge. In an educational setting that serves young children, most of our teachers are compassionate, nurturing, empathic, and gentle. Teachers with these traits have a hard time holding each other accountable for the daily work of a school without guidance from a coordinator or director. To assist with this, my administrators and I disseminate the message that holding people accountable means that you care enough about them to understand they maybe defensive regarding their insufficiencies. As Brené Brown says, “One of the greatest (and least discussed) barriers to compassion practice is the fear of setting boundaries and holding people accountable” (2010, p. 16). Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity and are able to accept others for who they are while holding them accountable for their behaviors and work habits.

Work on our self-study is rewarding in many ways. It gives purpose to our conversations about our future. It is a difficult process but very rewarding in the end. It also reminded me of Dr. Ned Hallowell’s message about innovation: select the right people for the job and give them responsibility; strengthen the connections of people on the teams; make time to play; deal with frustrations and grow from them; and use the right rewards to help people shine and want to excel (Hallowell, ).

The final phase of the accreditation process is hosting a team of education peers at our school for several days. Visiting educators become a part of our community and daily school life during their visit. They validate that we do what we say we do and they will find evidence of our self-study document in our work at our school. The team also enjoys learning about what makes us unique. We look forward to this visit with pride for the opportunity to display our school and demonstrate what we do in our classrooms and in anticipation of the recommendations the team offers that will help guide us into our future. TPMS has already begun collecting materials for our next visit in 2019.

 

References

Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection. Center City, MN: Hazelden.

Hallowell, E. M. (2011). Shine: Using brain science to get the best from your people. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

 

 

 

 

 

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Announcing Our Newest Program: The Nurture Center

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We have had so many parents ask us about pertinent information or online resources regarding newborns and toddlers. In particular, we noticed that so many parents, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds within our community, had similar questions surrounding the care and development of their young children. These included questions about learning, feeding, toileting, social skills, talking, walking, exercise and others. We realized that there was a huge need for a new kind of class that focused, not just on the young child’s development, but on the development of the caregiver’s ability to provide and care for the child in the most advantageous way possible. A class where the child and caregiver could grow together in a learning environment that was nurturing, developmentally appropriate, and provided a positive educational and social experience for both the child and the caregiver.

We Are Pleased To Introduce The Nurture Center

The Nurture Center is an exciting new program we are offering at our Riverside Campus. This program is for infants (newborn) through 3-year old toddlers along with a parent, caregiver, nanny, grandparent or anyone who is providing care for a child.

The Nurture Center’s program is specifically designed to assist parents and caregivers with developmentally appropriate activities for babies and toddlers. Our Infant and Toddler Coordinator, Jenna Dabney, MEd, will introduce children and adults to the developmentally appropriate practices and methods of teaching with carefully chosen materials.  Adults will bond with their children, network with other adults, explore Montessori materials, and collaborate on a variety of topics related to child development.

The program format will include:

• One (1) morning a week for six (6) weeks beginning October 2016

• 90-minute class, one (1) day a week

• 0-36-month-old children in a carefully prepared classroom

• Three  (3) 90-minute parent discussion groups

• Led by an experienced, Montessori certified teacher

**Open to dads, moms, grandparents and other caregivers**

During the class children will explore in a nurturing environment, choose from the materials provided, and learn at their own pace.  Caregivers can watch their children’s exploration, observe their discoveries and come together for music, stories and a community snack. The parent discussion groups offer adults the ability to share ideas and questions about eating, sleeping, toileting, discipline, and many other topics.  The Nurture Center offers parents and caregivers an important opportunity to meet other parents for sharing and networking with one another.

Click the image below for more information.

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Join our community, create friendships and build a strong network of mutual support for children and caregivers.

Space is limited!

Apply online today at TheNurtureCenter.nyc or call 212-665-1600 for more information.

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Kathy’s Insights