Friday, March 05, 2010

Montessori Leadership Guide: Recruitment for Montessori Schools

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This time of year is ideal for inviting parents in your community to an open house to learn more about your Montessori school and programs. Here are a few reminders and tips for making a great first impression with families that could potentially join your Montessori community.

In previous blogs, we have discussed the importance of defining a vision and mission for your Montessori school, including identifying the guiding principles behind this. Your open house provides the perfect opportunity to communicate these important messages and build your identity within your community. Be sure to display your mission and guiding principles prominently in the entrance to your school, on all public documents such as brochures, newsletters, parent handbooks, websites, and even registration forms. This is also an ideal time to update your public documents with information, images, and messages that clearly illustrate your position as an important member of your community, your programs and schedules, and your success as an educational institution.

Montessori Leadership Guide: Recruitment for Montessori Schools

Advertise your open house in your local newspaper and school newsletter. Even a parent handout that students may take home can encourage families to spread the word to new neighbors and friends.
Prepare your school. It should be sparkling clean and fully equipped. Montessori classrooms should be in good order and attractive at all times, with learning materials, furniture and fixtures properly displayed in complete, good condition. This is a great time to take inventory and address areas of deficiency before the open house takes place.

Prepare your staff to demonstrate and communicate positive, helpful information to parents, and to answer questions knowledgeably and thoroughly. Have a plan to identify interested families, and for scheduling additional appointments for parents who wish to return to the school for further meetings to discuss enrollment.

Greet your visitors when they enter your doors, just as you would your students. Ask them to sign the guest book when they arrive. Welcome them to your school, introduce yourself, and guide them to a common area where they may be received by members of your staff and enjoy a beverage and snack. Ideally, the snack could be something that was prepared by the students earlier that day.

Montessori schools that choose a more formal approach to the open house could begin with a collective introduction to your school and Montessori with a visual presentation such as one with the speaker using Power Point to highlight important aspects of the school and its mission/philosophy, daily life in the Montessori classroom, benefits to choosing Montessori education, and further enrollment procedures.
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One of the most important opportunities for introducing Montessori to new families lies in the classroom. Set up your Montessori classrooms to display examples of Montessori learning materials and activities in progress on tables and on floor mats. Each classroom should be occupied by a member of your staff who can explain in general how the prepared environment works and how Montessori learning materials are used.

Sample student journals should be available, as well as examples of Montessori teacher observation and record-keeping. Whenever possible, a major student project, either completed or in development, should be displayed to serve as a way to demonstrate curriculum and engage parents in specific discussion of the Montessori methodology, and how their children can benefit from the Montessori learning environment.

Have one exit for departure, where a volunteer parent or staff member is present to say goodbye and hand out information packages that explain in simple terms some of the key aspects of Montessori education. Prepare written communication pieces that parents can take away for further review. Include in your registration/information package online video links, such as YouTube, that provide a strong overview of what Montessori is. Have a Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) handout prepared as part of the package.

Include a piece that speaks to Montessori at home, and the importance of Montessori parents.
Have a plan for follow up. Perhaps your guest book could ask for an email address so that you may send a thank you message and invitation to contact the school for further information and assistance. Be sure to follow up quickly and efficiently with those families that have scheduled further appointments.

Related NAMC blogs:
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 Friday, March 5, 2010.

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