In a previous blog post, we described our plans to pilot emerging technology to support our teachers in enhancing their existing Montessori classroom observation and record-keeping. If you’re unfamiliar, observation is a key component of Montessori education. Teachers observe students as they go about their work, take careful notes, maintain meticulous records about student engagement and progress, and regularly reflect on all of the above in order to build their understanding of each student’s unique development path and plan their actions in the classroom.
Minnesota has a long history of innovation in education, rooted in our citizens’ commitment to expanding opportunity to all and empowering teachers and families to create new educational options that meet the needs of the children they love. Thirty five years ago, the Minnesota Miracle expanded funding to communities in need, and importantly, it did so through a state-level formula that protected local control of educational decisions. Twenty five years ago, Minnesota passed the first charter law in the nation, which gave school-level educators a pathway to create innovative schools within the public system. Minnesota offers post-secondary enrollment options, a network of support for home schools, interdistrict choice and countless other initiatives and programs designed to make it possible for every child to access a strong, personalized, relevant education.
Six people eagerly approached a door last month with a bright yellow sign reading “Welcome Montessori Teachers of Color.” Their entrance marked the kickoff of a pilot program to develop and support a cohort of teachers of color.
Through this diversity initiative, Wildflower partners with promising current and future Montessori teachers from historically underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds on the journey towards creating and leading their own school. This includes supporting participants in acquiring Montessori credentials, developing their capabilities as lead guides, learning the specific work of administering a Wildflower school, and, depending on their goals and capacity, helping them plan and prepare to launch their own dream school. Continue Reading
For Montessori’s art-filled classrooms, back-to-school means also going back to the studio. We view our materials and presentations less as a curriculum and more as a way to cultivate the most aesthetically pleasing space that will invite the child to tap into her innate curiosity and work with her hands. Doing so leads to discoveries that define us a civilization, as Dr. Montessori wrote in The Absorbent Mind: “If we try to think back to the dim and distant past…what is it that helps us reconstruct those times, and to picture the lives of those who lived in them? It is their art… it is thanks to the hand, the companion of the mind, that civilization has arisen.”
Much as an artist enters their studio, a child walks into the Montessori environment in the morning, the whole day a blank canvas. In the span of our three-hour work cycle in the morning, the children have an open-ended invitation to create, manipulate and explore the materials that have been presented to them.
As we prepare for a new school year in the wake of the tragic and hateful events in Charlottesville, we wanted to share some resources that we’ve come across to help parents and educators dismantle racism and foster a more peaceful world. We’re sure this list is incomplete and invite you to share informative resources we’re missing so we can help tools like these spread.
Wildflower Schools stand against the racism, antisemitism, bigotry and hatred that were on display in Charlottesville.
One of the most important things we can do as a community committed to equity is to acknowledge that we live in a society full of inequity and equip ourselves with the tools and the capacity to dismantle racism – within ourselves and within our communities. Our commitment to equity calls us “to create diverse, inclusive learning environments that work for justice as the foundation for peace,” and we hold this commitment sacredly.
We understand that, as Dr. Maria Montessori once said, “The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.” As we enter classrooms, create new schools, or go about the daily work of bringing Montessori education to more children, we do so with the knowledge that facing inequity, naming injustice, and standing for peace – in and out of the classroom – must remain central to ensuring we remain worthy guides of the hope and promise for mankind.
Kari Frentzel has been a Montessori elementary educator for the past ten years following her first career as an engineer and manager in industry and healthcare. She is co-head of school at Wild Rose Montessori, a Wildflower school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The school year is winding down. Teachers feel it as we squeeze in our final lessons and encourage students to finish projects. Students feel it as they prepare for year-end special events and make plans for getting together with friends once school is out. And certainly parents feel it as they rush to finalize plans for summer camps, vacations, lessons and babysitters.
This blog has also been cross-posted on the Today Show’s Parenting Community Page.
My dog and I took two kinds of walks. One was about taking care of business: The dog needed to walk and eliminate. I was in charge, and the goal was either to move fast and get exercise or to complete the walk as quickly as possible, because the weather was bad or I had a lot to do. The other walk was about making the dog happy. She set the pace, chose how long to sniff each tree and did her eliminating.
The other walk was about making the dog happy. She set the pace, chose how long to sniff each tree and did her eliminating when she was ready, with no pleading or commanding from me.
As a parent, many experiences with our children fall into one of these two categories. There are times when expediency and getting things done is essential to the success of the family. Getting out of the house and arriving on time at school and work is one of those experiences. Washing the car on an open Saturday afternoon can fall into the second category. For parents trying to build their child’s independence, we try to create environments and systems that allow many parts of the day to feel like the second type of walk while still getting things done.
Among our most important roles at the Wildflower Foundation is to till any rocky soil that keeps schools from opening and thriving, heads of school from leading and teaching and students from exploring and learning. As anyone who works in education knows, you can easily get sidetracked or dispirited by the many operational tasks required to operate a school.
One of our goals at Wildflower is to ease the administrative tasks taken on by our dedicated Teacher Leaders by building tools and services that allow them to open and operate thriving school environments. Since teachers run Wildflower schools entirely, the tasks that administrators do in traditional school settings need to be handled especially efficiently.
Happy New Year from Wildflower Schools! This season of renewal and recommitment is bringing some changes and improvements to our network’s website, too, including this blog, which we are calling “Field Notes.” The name is a nod to both how one might study wildflowers and to the importance in Montessori education–and at Wildflower Schools–of observation and reflection.