PowerPoint - Montessori Congress 2013

Guided by the Nature of Parents
In a sentence, what’s the one issue
with parents that brought you here
Slide 2
Turn to someone you don’t know
and introduce yourself
Tell them about a child you care
deeply about.
What are your hopes and dreams
for that child?
Slide 3
Our paradigms are the source of
our attitudes and behaviors.
We seldom question their accuracy;
we’re usually even unaware that
we have them.
We simply assume that the way we
see things is the way they really
What is society’s view of
A ‘paradigm shift’ is a change in the basic
assumptions, or paradigms, within the
ruling theory of science. (Thomas Kuhn, The
Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
It turns out then, that children, by
their very nature, are
Slide 7
Have you ever met an adult who doesn't
really love what they do, but just goes
through the motions in their job and
everyday life? Have you spoken with men
and women who constantly complain,
showing no visible passion for anything in
the world? I'm sure that, like me, you have
met those people.
I've also seen the making of these adults in
schools across our country: students who
are consistently being "prepared" for the
next test, assessment, or grade level . . .
only to find out after graduation that they
don't really know what they are passionate
These are the same students who are never
allowed to learn what they want in school.
Forced down a curriculum path that we
believe is "best for them," they discover it
is a path that offers very little choice in
subject matter and learning outcomes.
We spend 14,256 hours in school between
kindergarten and graduation. If we can't
find a time for students to have some
choice in their learning, then what are we
doing with all those hours?
What 20% time allows students to do is pick
their own project and learning
outcomes,[20% of the time] while still
hitting all the standards and skills for their
grade level.
So, it’s OK to waste the other
80% of their time?!
The Power of Expectations
Maria Montessori understood this
“The first step an intending Montessori
teacher must take is to prepare
herself. For one thing, she must
keep her imagination alive; for whilst,
in traditional schools, the teacher
sees the immediate behavior of her
pupils… the Montessori teacher is
constantly looking for a child who is
not yet there….
Slide 16
She must have a kind of faith that the
child will reveal himself through
She must free herself from all
preconceived ideas concerning the
levels at which the children may be.
The many different types of children
(meaning they are more or less
deviated) must not worry her.
In her imagination she sees the single
normalized type, which lives in a
world of the spirit.”
Slide 17
So, why is he talking about
paradigms when he’s supposed to
talk about parents?
It shows what we’re up against
with parents: overcoming the
commonly held paradigm of
It poses the question: could we
also have a faulty paradigm, but
of parents?
Slide 18
Give us your children.
And have absolute faith in what
we do.
Now, go away!
Slide 19
Maria Montessori understood this
“The first step an intending Montessori
teacher must take is to prepare
herself. For one thing, she must
keep her imagination alive; for whilst,
in traditional schools, the teacher
sees the immediate behavior of
parents… the Montessori teacher is
constantly looking for a parent who is
not yet there….
Slide 20
She must have a kind of faith that the
parent will reveal himself through
She must free herself from all
preconceived ideas. The many
different types of parents (meaning
they are more or less deviated) must
not worry her.
Slide 21
Social Outcomes
and a desire to stand
up for the disadvantaged
skills: confident
and articulate at self-expression;
also an effective listener
good at making
and keeping friends
Slide 22
Academic Outcomes
fundamentals, but also a
depth and breadth of knowledge
Slide 23
thinking skills
ability to learn
Personal Characteristics
and Resourceful
and generous
Slide 24
Genetic determinism: your
grandfather did it to you
Psychic determinism: your parents did
it to you
Environmental determinism: your
boss, your spouse, your economic
situation – someone or something in
your environment is responsible for
your situation
Slide 25
Reactive statement
• That’s just the way I am.
• He makes me so mad.
• I can’t do that. I just don’t
have the time.
• “If only my wife was more
• “I have to do it.”
• I am determined. There’s
nothing I can do about it.
• I’m not responsible
• Something outside me –
limited time – is controlling
• Someone else’s behavior is
limiting me
• I’m not free to choose my
The Classic Conditioned Response
I am going to submit, that we can
choose how we look at, what we
expect from, how we relate to children
AND parents
You can’t change children or parents;
but, you can change yourself.
And, you can create environments
conducive to change
Whether you call it parent outreach,
parent partnerships or parent
education, it’s about creating
environments conducive to growth,
development, self-discovery and
And that’s something we know quite a
lot about.
Since it is also about putting them in a
frame of mind receptive to a new
paradigm, it will need to help them
disconnect from their conscious
thinking, judging, criticizing mind, and
allow their intuitive creative self to
It will also need to be disarming, and
help them set aside their anxieties
and defenses
Practices that help
Make it experiential
Create opportunities for self-awareness and
awareness of surroundings
Pay careful attention to creating an
emotional climate that is welcoming and
Include elements of surprise, lightness and
humor, story and song
Incite the imagination
What we know about creating
environments conducive to growth,
development, self-discovery and
Although they are in a different plane of
development, adults still display the same
human tendencies that we observe among
the children in our Montessori classrooms.
That shouldn’t be too surprising since they
may be older but they are still human, after
Fundamental Montessori practices
Adult humility
Belief in the innate potential and goodness of each
Respect for self-direction, self-motivation and choice
Take into account natural tendencies, developmental
characteristics, sensitive periods
Teach by teaching, not correcting
Allow time for self-paced development
Provide opportunity for active engagement
Get out of the way, and let them do for themselves
Treat them as individuals
Observe, listen and prepare to respond
Slide 35
Respect for Choice
From the first, let’s be careful not to sell
our Montessori programs to parents,
but instead to inform them and then
respect their choice.
Our job with prospective parents is to
answer their questions in a way that
describes what we do, fully and
completely and unapologetically, but
without selling.
Let’s respect the fact that although
Montessori might be right for every
child, it might not be right for every
It’s the parents’ job to choose; it’s our
job to make sure that their choice is a
fully informed one.
Take into Account the Sensitive
Periods of parents
Before their child is born and continuing
through the first two years of life.
Prenatal classes and parent/infant
classes are a wonderful opportunity to
reach parents when they are at their
most open.
Beginning with their first observation as
a prospective parent and lasts
through their child’s first few months
in a Montessori classroom.
New Parent Orientation
Introductions: “What did you see in your first
Edison’s Day: “What did you notice?”
What aspects of the home environment allow Edison to
be a full participant?
The components of a Montessori lesson
Brainstorming ways to involve their children
Practical advice for the first day
I’ll be there for you
Orientation to the school, it’s mission, governance and
Slide 42
What to expect as a new parent
Actual Quotes from New Parent Orientation
Slide 43
“It wasn’t chaos! Each child did as he wanted but
without disrupting anyone else!”
“The toddlers were so focused, it kind of freaked me
“Quiet, well-organized, with such respectful teachers.”
“The children were happily on task. I was surprised at
the level of activities available.”
“From the youngest age they get experience in
problem-solving. You let them figure it out on their
“The children have the opportunity to explore with what
appeals on any given day.”
“I noticed how the older children take care of the
younger ones.”
“The teacher wasn’t involved with every child, but I had
the sense she knew what each one was doing.”
Start adding to the emotional bank
Teach by Teaching, Not by
How often do we forget this dictum when
dealing with parents? Too often we stand
with arms crossed, glaring at a parent who
is late, or doing too much for a child, or
behaving in some other way that offends
our Montessori sensibilities.
Instead, we can let go of our inclination to
correct and look for a later teachable
Allow time for self-paced
In general, we are much more patient with
the children in our care than with their
parents, aren’t we?
Provide opportunity for active
Another human tendency is exploration, and
we fully acknowledge the importance of it
for children. And yet, how many of our
events for parents are mostly lecture?
Connecting Brain Research with Effective
Teaching, by Dr. Mariale Hardiman,
Johns Hopkins University
The brain constantly searches for meaning
and context
–Start with ‘big picture” ideas, then
break these into connected concept
–Relate students’ prior knowledge and
understanding to new information to be
Slide 51
Designing the Learning Experience
Concepts and skills taught in isolation
are meaningless to students
–Integrate disciplines
–Devise meaningful ways for
students to apply knowledge
Slide 52
Get out of the way, and let them do
for themselves
Ask rather than answer. If a child asks
us a question, how do we respond?
After their first observation ask: What
did you see? What were your
impressions of the classroom?
After an activity or experience at a
parent night, ask them what they
learned from the experience
“A sense of calm overlay the busyness.
There was this peaceful sense of
order underneath all of the activity
that was taking place in a communal
way. There was a rhythm to the
classroom that I’ve never seen
before. It was like a beautifully
orchestrated dance.”
Let them speak first.
At New Parent Orientation. By the time
they finish sharing, they feel
confirmed in their choice, and their
minds are open to receive
At the beginning of a parent evening on
mathematics, I might ask each parent
to talk briefly about their own
experiences with math as a child.
Opportunities to talk to each
Helps parents combat the pressure
they feel from friends, relatives and
neighbors to conform
Parents will believe one another much
more readily than they will believe us,
and in this way they support one
another’s decision.
Parent event focused on particular
Treat them as individuals
There’s no one-size-fits-all way of reaching
out to them. I never feel that just because
I wrote a good article for the newsletter
that my work is done.
Parents expect a higher level of individual
consideration from a Montessori school
than from any other institution with which
they interact.
Observe, listen and prepare to
Most people do not listen with the intent to
understand; they listen with the intent to
reply. They are either speaking, or
preparing to speak.
Seek first to understand, then to be
Understanding a parent’s situation and
point of view first puts us in a better
position to communicate effectively
and with relevance.
Once a person feels understood, he or
she is much more likely to let go of
preconceptions and be open to new
Complaints about parents
They don’t listen.
They undo everything at home that I’m
trying to do at school
They have unrealistic expectations
They just don’t get it!
Slide 60
Complaints about parents
They’re always late.
They don’t appreciate how hard I work
They don’t appreciate their children
They are demanding and difficult
Slide 61
Complaints about parents
“They don’t listen” becomes, “I will seek
first to understand, then to be
“They just don’t get it!” becomes, “I am
being creative in finding alternatives to
reach the inner parent.”
“They have unrealistic expectations”
becomes, “let’s look together at what we
really want for our children and find our
common ground.”
Slide 62
Complaints about parents
“They’re always late” becomes, “I’d like to
help you figure out a difficulty you’re
having in your life.”
“They don’t appreciate how hard I work”
becomes, “I choose to work really hard
because I believe in what I’m doing.”
Slide 63
Complaints about parents
“They don’t appreciate their children”
becomes, let me show why I find your
child so amazing.”
“They are demanding and difficult”
becomes, “How can I help them reduce
their anxiety and stress?”
Slide 64
The Transition Person
I believe that giving wings to our children
and to others means empowering them
with the freedom to rise above negative
scripting that had been passed down to
I believe it means becoming… a transition
person. Instead of transferring those
scripts to the next generation, we can
change them
The Transition Person
In a very profound sense, we ARE transition
Let’s help each parent become a transition
person too
To do that let’s be “like a flame which
heartens all by its warmth, enlivens and

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