I’m sure there are dozens of opinions on this topic with as many hotly contested answers. I’ve evolved my opinions over time. I’m going to share my history and thoughts on this.Continue reading “Should we still be celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in school?”
As Montessorians, it is now even more important for us to work on our own thoughts and perceptions of race and color as we strive for ABAR in our classrooms. We are so good at talking the talk, but need to also walk the walk. We always want to create the best environment for our children so that they can thrive. There’s so much that we still need to do, though, to update this curriculum and method that we love so much. So many suggested reading lists are out there. And if you follow me on Facebook or on Twitter, you will have seen dozens of books and articles that I have been sharing since last spring.
The book that tops all lists tends to be White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. My sister had recommended it to me a few years ago, but I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. And just before all of the protests and conversations following the death of George Floyd, I was starting to think more about it again and was putting pieces into place to further educate myself. I started sharing more about diversity. But then this really pushed me to work even harder and to share even more with everyone. A lot has been done, but we have so much more work to do.
I encourage you to also begin this journey, if you have not already, or to revisit it if you have taken a pause. Engage in meaningful conversations about it, whether with me online, with your own friends and family, with fellow faculty and staff, or with others in your community. Join the Montessori for Social Justice group on Facebook and take the time to really listen to the conversations in there and take advantage of the shared resources.
I finally managed to read White Fragility this past winter, and it really gave me a lot to think about. I reflected on a lot of personal situations, and I have been sharing those over at my blog Andi Explains It All. But I also had a lot of reflections on past experiences in the classroom and things that need to change in the future. Please join me and share your thoughts. I won’t always have all of the right answers and may still be misguided as I do the work and go on this journey. But that’s why I am sharing my process. We need to have these conversations. Thank you for joining me.
Purchase a copy of White Fragility and join in a conversation with me! You can purchase the same edition I have by clicking on the picture below. You get a good read and I get to earn a few pennies at no additional cost to you!
So I read this middle grade/YA book about an 11-year-old girl named Melody who has a severe case of cerebral palsy. She basically cannot physically move on her own. And she cannot speak. But she is very intelligent, with a photogenic memory. The problem is most people do not know this, so they talk down to her. It reminds me of two special needs people I had in my life.Continue reading “Reflections on Out of My Mind: My Summer Lesson of Respect”
My friend’s daughter had the book Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper on her reading list. Out of curiosity, I borrowed it and was completely moved and immersed myself in memories. The story is told from the point of view of a girl named Melody who is an 11-year-old with severe cerebral palsy. She can barely move and cannot speak. Therefore, everyone assumes that she is profoundly mentally retarded, a word that she rightfully despises. So when she starts school, she is placed in a brightly colored room with a new teacher every year and a revolving door of assistants, where curriculum is often dumbed down.
It made me think of an experience I had during college. For one of my education classes, we had to spend time observing in classrooms. Because I took the Honors version, they decided we were going to visit alternative schools. I was already familiar with these programs because I had attended one of the Montessori schools and we did activities with one of the other alternative programs. Plus I was already employed at another Montessori school. So I was told that I could actually work with the kids instead of just observing.
My assignment? A young boy about seven years old who had CP. Why? “He needs a lot of extra help, and I just don’t have time for him.”
I sat down with this delightful young man at his table and we started chatting. He broke my heart when he said, “You know, I’m not dumb. It just takes me a little longer to do things.”
I was so angry with that teacher. How dare she make this child feel this way? I don’t know that she ever said anything directly to him. At least, I hope she never did. But that line, “Actions speak louder than words” definitely rang true for this young boy. And it was not okay.
I often think of him and wonder how he is doing ow. He would be in his early 30s. I hope that he found teachers who understood him and could work with him where he was at. I hope he never felt shamed because he was slower. The realistic part of me knows that is highly unlikely. But I like to think it happened.
I can still picture him in my head, though his name now escapes me. But his impact on me and my teaching remains. I never talked down to kids with impairments. I acknowledged that there was more going on in there than we realized. And it made me a better educator.
I hope you can do the same.
Purchase your own copy of Out of My Mind via my affiliate link below by clicking on the image:
I’m starting up a sort of Thoughtful Thursday series here, of reflections I had after reading a book that my friend’s daughter had to read over the summer.
The book Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is the story of a young girl named Melody who has cerebral palsy. She basically cannot move and she cannot speak. So people just assume that she is profoundly mentally retarded. In fact, the opposite is true. Her brain works quite well otherwise, including a photographic memory, and she possesses an intelligence that only she really knows she has.Continue reading “Reflections on Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper: An Introduction”
A couple of weeks ago, I was already having a rough day, not feeling well and extremely tired. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I saw a notice posted in my childhood Montessori group that my former teacher, Jo, had passed away.Continue reading “Remembering Jo and Her Montessori Math Legacy”
If you’re like me, you’re constantly transporting things between home and school. I always had my Chromebook or laptop going back and forth, along with my notes, lesson plans and ideas, and so much more. Anything that can help me stay organized with all of that is always a plus. Plus we all know how teachers are with their bags! Check out this Deluxe Double Duty Caddy that can help keep you organized at home or at school and then enter to win one of your own! Continue reading “Deluxe Double Duty Caddy #Giveaway Ends 2/16 @TotesByTeri @deliciouslysavv”
Who am I? I am a Montessori educator.
My aspirations to become a teacher began at a young age. I was enrolled in Montessori school at the age of 3 ½, so I didn’t know much about traditional school until I left after 6th grade. But I remember “playing school” at friends’ houses, where those friends either presently attended public school or had at one point. We always did the lecture with the chalkboard for practice. I devoured the Little House book series and TV series, emulating Laura, who also taught in this way. So to me, that’s how you would be a teacher.
I guess that means that my Montessori teachers did things the right way. After all, Maria referred to the teacher as a directress whose job it was to guide us children along our paths of learning. I never thought of any of them in the traditional sense.
Public school was not a good fit for me. I didn’t like having to sit in the same desk in the same classroom at the same time every day and strictly follow the curriculum. There was no time for discussion. People thought you were weird if you tried to talk to the teachers. I just wanted to enjoy learning again. So I knew that when I went to college, I wanted to be a Montessori educator. But there were no such programs in college.
So I went with studying math and French. Those were two of my passions and I thought I would enjoy teaching in high school. I had started working in a Montessori school, though, in October of my freshman year. I primarily did after school care with ages 3-6, with some time with the elementary program. I also did their summer camp. And when I had to take time off from school for health reasons, I ended up being able to sub in all facets of the school, from lunch/nap to all classrooms to office to library. It cemented my desire to work in that kind of educational philosophy and I ended up switching to early childhood and elementary. That age group appeared to be where my talents and passion lay. And I could still teach math and French.
I also picked up Spanish, because I knew I was going to use that more than French, and special ed courses. Inclusion was much more of a reality and I wanted to be prepared. I had a few opportunities to use some of those skills in my role in after school care. And then the school decided to open up their own training program, using a lot of the same instructors as the program just north in Michigan.
I jumped on the opportunity. We did our massive studies that summer. I always felt ahead of the curve because I had a different perspective and understanding as a Montessori kid. And then that school year was the internship, with a few seminars scheduled every few months. I was the unpaid intern in one of the early childhood rooms. I continued my lunch/nap and after school care duties for pay. And then when needed, I would sub. I also worked in a daycare part-time in the evenings, primarily in the office, for additional income. And then after that year, it was time for me to break out on my own.
I did my classroom observations while also going on job interviews at schools that were within just a couple of hours from home. I didn’t feel like going too far. I managed to land a position in a school in my hometown where I grew up, so I was able to “stay home.” It was a very small school on a farm. I started out as a part-time teacher in the afternoon classroom and after school care and summer camp programs and eventually became the lead teacher of the program and co-administrator. But after three years, I knew it was time to move on. And I moved a few states over.
My first year was difficult because I was finally actually away from home. And I was an assistant to someone whose personal Montessori philosophy was quite different from mine. I stuck it out because I knew that second year, I was moving into my own classroom. And I stayed there for 12 years.
I learned so much more about Montessori education over all of those years. I saw several examples of what to do and what not to do. I became clearly set in my personal Montessori philosophy and embraced so many of Maria’s ideals. I have a solid sense of who I am as a Montessorian. And I like to share it.
I am not currently in a Montessori classroom. I left in 2015 for a variety of reasons. And for just as many, I have no plans to return in the near future. But don’t write me off in the classroom just yet. I do still continue to do childcare and tutoring. I continue to educate friends in the philosophy. And I still share Montessori with the masses via my Facebook and Twitter pages. My goal with this blog is to share some of my wisdom here as well. I long to keep educating the masses about how to do it and how easy it is to make it a part of your life. So my role as a Montessori educator has not ended.
Please feel free to leave any questions you may have. Perhaps I can address them in some later posts. Until then, I will share my own stories and observations I have made, plus other great resources you can use to further your own Montessori education.
One of the most important things I remember learning in my Montessori training was the importance of self-care. We often talked about making sure you got enough water to drink, both for the body and for the mind. I admit I’m not always good about it, but since being home for COVID, I have been making a more concentrated effort to keep my water intake up. Having a filter pitcher on hand definitely helps! Continue reading “Drink the Cleanest Water #Giveaway Ends 10/2 @las930 @clearlyfiltered”
I’m baaaaaaaaaaaack! Well, in some ways, I didn’t completely leave. I have maintained the Montessori Writer Facebook page and the MontessoriWrite Twitter accounts even after leaving my last school and the websites I wrote for all closing down. I have never stopped sharing information. I procured this new domain two years ago with the intention of starting to write again, but just couldn’t bring myself to get started. The time is now. So what to expect?Continue reading “Welcome Back! The Return of Montessori Writer”