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Montessori By Remote – A Temporary, New Normal

Montessori By Remote – A Temporary, New Normal

By Tierney Dewan-Saperstein

 

Here we are, together, navigating remote Montessori learning. Let me begin by saying, I am choosing to see this period in life as a gift…the gift of time that many of us seldom have.

Looking ahead, we want to give you a “primer,” of sorts, so that you can assess your spaces, actions and expectations. What are the most important things you can do as parents to help ease some struggles and give some great opportunities to your children?

  • Give them time. You aren’t having to rush the morning to get to school, or hurry home for lunch or dinner. Instead, you are free to let your child take as long as possible to focus on the daily life tasks. Your children can work through their frustrations and you can observe patiently as their tenacity comes forth.
  • Let them concentrate. If you find that your child is focusing their attention on something (as long as it is not hurting themselves, hurting others or hurting the environment), let them work. This means don’t say anything to them – even if it is to celebrate them or encourage them.
  • Assess your spaces. Are there ways in which your child can be involved in family life (towels for drying a spill, putting laundry into the washing machine, a stool or such to reach the kitchen counter)? Are hooks low enough (for coats and brooms)? Can they reach their things (dishes, clothing, work)? Undoubtedly you’ll find opportunities to make changes to your spaces to fit your child’s needs.
  • Observe your child. They show us what we need to know! This will be extremely helpful to you when you choose to make changes in the spaces or with your child’s daily life activities.  It will also be lovely to share with your child’s guide when you connect next. You can share your observations and can talk through them.

Keep checking back. We’ll be offering more encouragement, support and even a little entertainment.

Please know, we are here for you, and we are wishing you all the very best during these “interesting” times.

 

From Taiwan to Texas to Hershey

From Taiwan to Texas to Hershey

“To say it is a good school is not enough. If you have a chance, come here and observe. You will feel the difference. It is so peaceful and calm. Even the teachers and adults are calm. You will see real Montessori.” ~Derek Tsai

An Interview with a Teacher in Training

Hershey Montessori School was pleased to host Derek Tsai for five weeks of teacher training recently. We extend a special thank you to Jennifer Finan, Early Elementary Guide, for her exemplary role modeling and her passion to help others live, teach, and share Montessori.

Below is a short interview between Head of School Assistant, Saren Peetz, and Derek Tsai.

Saren: What is the correct spelling and pronunciation of your name?

Derek: Derek Tsai (Tsai sounds like “Thai”).

Saren: Where are you from?

Derek: I am from Taiwan originally, but moved to Austin, Texas about 4 years ago.

Saren: Do you have a school you would like to work at in Austin, or are you starting your own school?

Derek: When we moved from Taiwan, my wife and I started a small school. It is a bilingual school with Mandarin and English.

Saren: Does your school have an elementary program yet, or is it only Children’s House?

Derek: Only Children’s House for now, but we are going to be growing to elementary. The parents of the Children’s House students asked for more levels to be added. I also have a 6 year old daughter, so it is good timing. We want the elementary for her as well.

Saren: What interests you about Montessori education?

Derek: I started working in Montessori as a helper to my wife. My wife is the Children’s House lead teacher. She knows a lot about the Montessori theory. I discovered through that work that I really loved Montessori. When I was helping my wife, I knew the names of the materials, but I did not know the use of them. But then, in my training, I took the Foundation Course and then the Elementary Course. After I learned the theory of both the Children’s House and Elementary I thought, “Wow, that is what I want.”

Saren: What does the landscape of Montessori look like in your home country/state?

Derek: I will start with Taiwan. In Taiwan there is not much land, especially in the cities. There are no backyards, only ten story buildings. It is very challenging for preschools to operate. The preschools usually rent out the first or the second floor of these tall buildings and they will use parks for playgrounds. Austin is more similar to preschools everywhere in the United States. There is more room. Hershey is unique, though, especially its playground. The playground has a huge space to run and build with sticks. It is very natural and very Montessori.

Saren: What brought you to Hershey?

Derek: I took the training course in Zhejiang, and a few of my classmates on the course came to Hershey a few years ago to see the upper school (Middle and Upper School) for the adolescent orientation. They loved Hershey, so I thought if I can do my observation there it would be good. So I contacted the school and contacted Jennifer and set up my practice teaching at Hershey.

Saren: When do you finish your training?

Derek: There are five time blocks for my training. The last training block is in February, and that is the oral and written exams. Then I will come back to my wife’s school to open the elementary classroom in September or maybe earlier.

Saren: What is your biggest take away from Hershey?

Derek: My biggest take away was Jennifer’s attitude and her spirit. She enjoyed her work and all the children are engaged in their work. I hope I can be a guide like that. It is not easy in teaching to get all the children engaged in their work. But she did it! So maybe I can do it, too. Also, the design of the building at Hershey. It is good for children because it is easier for them to go from elementary to another class, or even back to the Children’s House. And also easy access to outside, especially for the Children’s House. They have their own yard and all the windows in their classrooms let them see outside and watch outside. I also loved all the books. There were so many! I loved the library. There are so many things I loved I can’t list them all right now.

Saren: What is one thing you would tell parents about education?

Derek: Many parents are still believing in traditional education and public school more. But when talking about Montessori, the Montessori way is to put the abstract and the physical thing together to make the whole concept very solid. I would also want to really let parents know what the difference is between Montessori and traditional education. I would say the two biggest things for elementary are independence and Cosmic Education.

Saren: What is one thing you would tell other educators about Hershey Montessori School?

Derek: To say it is a good school is not enough. If you have a chance, come here and observe. You will feel the difference. It is so peaceful and calm. Even the teachers and adults are calm. You will see real Montessori. The physical design even looks like home. It makes the whole layout look like a home. If I hear someone is looking for observations or help, I will suggest they go to Hershey Montessori School.

Best wishes to you, Derek. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We enjoyed having you here at Hershey Montessori School, and are glad that you are taking a piece of us with you as you provide Montessori for more children in your corner of the world.

 

Hershey Senior Represents Education in State of Geauga Meeting

Hershey Senior Represents Education in State of Geauga Meeting

Abriella Minotti, a senior at Hershey Montessori School, recently spoke at the State of Geauga forum held at Kent State University’s Geauga campus. A group of approximately 150 politicians, business owners, educators and residents gathered to hear and to talk about what’s happening in Geauga County. The views shared reflected past progress, current status, and gave a glimpse into the future.

Minotti addressed the topic of Education, including the innovative programs at Hershey’s Huntsburg campus, which is home to the school’s Adolescent program. She extended an open invitation to the Geauga County community to visit Hershey Montessori School.

Minotti serves as an adjunct staff member for Hershey’s Admissions Department where she provides presentations and tours to families, individuals, and organizations interested in learning more about the school.

Other speakers addressed the areas of Agriculture, Arts & Leisure, Business, Government, Health & Safety, and Human Services.

You can read more about this in the Chagrin Valley Times.


 

Hershey Students Learn the Power of Positive Thinking

Hershey Students Learn the Power of Positive Thinking

 

Hershey Montessori School’s Upper School students recently welcomed local guest speaker Marvin Montgomery, a motivational speaker and sales trainer with more than 30 years of experience.

Hershey students were enlightened as Montgomery shared insights throughout his presentation, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Montgomery demonstrated how having a positive attitude can change a person’s outlook on life. Students and staff alike enjoyed his inspirational speech as they laughed and participated with Montgomery’s examples and provided stories of their own.

Students were able to see how their outlook impacts their outcome. If they wake up in a bad mood and expect to have a terrible day, that is most likely what will happen. However, if they wake up expecting to have a great day, it is more likely to be a great day.

Montgomery stressed the importance of looking on the bright side and finding the positive in every situation. The students were able to relate to how their outlook on events in their life had impacted the outcome of a situation.

Hershey Montessori School staff and students thank Montgomery for his simple, yet profound, tips. Everyone walked away with food for thought on how to approach each day and the events of their life.

“Change is a great thing,” Montgomery said, “Don’t just go through the motions. If something is bothering you, change it.”

 


 

Hershey Staff Participate in NVC Workshop

Hershey Staff Participate in NVC Workshop

“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking: it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.” —  Dr. Maria Montessori, Education and Peace

Communication in today’s world has many avenues. Just imagine that it was only 30 years ago that both cell phones and the Internet took hold. Information that was once exchanged verbally is now delivered via texts, emails, tweets, posts, and pictures. It is now more relevant than ever to continue to cultivate and enhance face-to-face, interpersonal relationship skills — and this is something that Montessori education certainly strives for. Instilling the relevance of these crucial interpersonal communication skills in each and every student is one of the hallmarks of our program.

This past week, the entire Hershey staff had the opportunity to attend an all-day workshop on Needs-Based Communication, also known as Nonviolent Communication (NVC). NVC is a method of communication that transforms old patterns of reactiveness and defensiveness into compassion and empathy with the hope of improving both communication as well as relationships.

The workshop was led by Gregg Kendrick, founder of Basileia, LLC.  NVC greatly aligns with Montessori pedagogy as it creates a space for attention and respect in every moment. This is something that we certainly can use more of in today’s world. NVC lays a solid foundation by incorporating observation, feelings, and needs with both empathy and honesty. If practiced regularly, this model can enrich and strengthen communication.

In the coming months, the staff will connect what was learned and incorporate more of these skills with students, parents, and each other, to promote a more harmonious and enriching community.

To learn more about NVC, visit Basileia.org.