Fostering a Learning Community: A note from Hilary and Kenna

As Dr. Montessori said in The Absorbent Mind, “We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.” The child learns from the adult and the adult learns from the child. This dedication to life-long learning begins with recognizing that teaching is a “becoming process” and that we are always growing and learning.

To learn any craft well, many benefit from learning from masters in the field. Veteran Montessori teachers have accumulated years of observation, practice and patience to really demonstrate mastery and yet good Montessori teachers, like scientists, are trying new approaches and ways to engage a child’s mind in meaningful and rich ways.

In the Montessori classrooms, there is a three-year age group (ex – 3-6 year olds in the Early Childhood classroom; 6-9 year old in Lower Elementary). In this setting, the older children are looked to as the mentors for the younger children, helping them to become familiar with the environment and with lessons throughout the day. This mentorship happens naturally where the children just fall into the role they should have. Some children (and adults) are stronger leaders, but all in a Montessori environment have the opportunity to share with and help others.

As Charlie has referenced in previous letters, Barrie, the school, and our Montessori training program, IAMS, are working more closely as we incorporate this mentorship model with our classroom teachers. This year, our two interns from the IAMS program are working as co-teachers with our veteran teachers. Both Barbara, in the 3-6 year old program, and Danielle in the 6-9 year old program have brought fresh ideas to the faculty either from their previous experience before their Montessori training and from their teacher training this summer at Barrie’s graduate level program. By welcoming interns, we have to articulate what we do and why we do it and be open to being influenced to grow and improve. Supporting the development of new certified teachers also helps us to keep looking at what collaboration means on many levels. How do all teachers share craft experience with those who are new on our campus? How do all teachers welcome interns and having not only congenial connections but collegial discussions about teaching and learning? Our hosting interns also means we have supervising teachers from others schools visit our campus and share their wisdom with interns and our staff about what they see. We are excited to see the positive response to how we expand co-teaching relationships by hosting interns. We have begun to recruit interns for next year and have advertised the program widely in the hope of attracting individuals with a passion for learning and becoming certified teachers who embrace our value of respect for self, others and the environment.

The early success of this program this year positions the school to expand its role as leader in Montessori teaching and learning. Next year, the middle and upper school will also introduce a teaching fellows program like many other schools have used to mentor and grow teachers early in their career. As we reach out to various networks to promote these positions, it is exciting to see the diversity of candidates expressing interest in being a part of our learning community. If you are interested in learning more about our teacher training program or our efforts in developing our master teachers/mentorship program, please contact Hilary, Kenna, or Charlie.

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