Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Being a Dynamic Montessori Teacher: Self Evaluation and Success

NAMC montessori teacher self evaluation teaching children
Teachers who understand how their goals of education relate to their teaching strategies are more likely to implement practices that consciously emphasize some goals and eliminate those practices they consider not useful.
- Dr. Marlene Barron, Maria Montessori and the Postmodern World, Montessori Life, AMS, Summer 2002.

In many parts of the world, summer is about to end and a new school year is about to begin. Now is the time when I think seriously about what I need to improve in my Montessori classroom for the coming year. I think about my older students who will be returning for another year. What were their individual challenges last year? What are their strengths? I review teacher notes for incoming Montessori students and begin preparation for their introduction into the new Montessori classroom. I assess Montessori environmental design and curriculum, asking questions, such as: Do material and subject areas make sense where they are located? Is there a logical flow to the Montessori classroom? Do I have any curricular deficiencies or challenges?

Being a Dynamic Montessori Teacher: Self Evaluation and Success

In her article, “Maria Montessori and the Postmodern World”, Dr. Marlene Barron offers ideas for evaluating what we do as Montessori teachers and schools, with a view to nurturing students as citizens today, and for the future. Dr. Barron has observed that a teacher’s beliefs and biases can be a hindrance to helping foster the development of children. Emphasizing that those of us who have the great fortune to live in a democratic society also have the opportunity to value, share and teach this important process, Dr. Barron suggests that it is critical for adults and students to discuss issues, values, ideas, etc., as part of the ongoing improvement of Montessori education programs.

Through her research and experience working with Montessori educators, Dr. Barron and her colleagues developed a list of considerations for improved approaches to Montessori education, as summarized below:
  • When making decisions, help and encourage students to use a “both/and” approach instead of an “either/or” approach to the decision-making process. The “both/and” approach is more appropriate to today’s world, with emphasis on the benefit of shared expression and inclusive thought.
  • Teachers who problem-solve and negotiate with others will be more likely to have students who do the same.
  • Vertical classrooms, i.e., “experts” conveying their knowledge and top-down practices are things of the past. This is true for Montessori teacher education programs and Montessori schools.
  • The expectation that students will “finish one’s work before beginning another activity” might be unreasonable and impractical when that is not the nature of an adult’s work day. Montessori methodology embraces an integrated curriculum, where learning is encouraged across multiple disciplines to “see” connections among varying subjects.
  • Encourage student dialogue with peers and other adults during the work cycle and school day.
  • Students know a lot and might even be experts on some topics.
NAMC montessori teacher self evaluation boy typing
A new school year is about to begin. Help your colleagues and yourself be the best you can be. Take time over the coming weeks to assess what, how and why you do the things you do in the classroom, thinking about today’s world and how its changes will affect your students as they grow. Perhaps you will find new ways to incorporate important cultural, educational and technological developments into the Montessori curriculum, in order to help your students become successful citizens, now and for the future!
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, August 4, 2009.

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