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TSH Observations - 2020 February 28th

The School House Weekly Observations - Week Ending Feb. 28th, 2020: From Founder & Principal Mimosa Jones Tunney

Over the break Ms. Christine and I attended the AMI (Association Montessori International) conference in Seattle, Washington.  It was a gathering of over 1,400 educators from around the country.  There were a number of trainers there who were outstanding in their ability to communicate the deep philosophy of Montessori - namely a Prepared Environment, Follow the Child (this is not letting your children do anything they want) and the supreme importance of observation (not testing) as a way to understand and meet each Learner at their level and ability.  The Educators (or Guides as they’re called in AMI) are what make Montessori a very special pedagogy.  At TSH we have four AMI trained educators and what separates them more often than not is their way of communicating to children.   Harsh tones are never used; respect is highly valued.  Rooms are meticulously organized; consequences are connected and firm but never punitive.  There is a delight factor that is felt in and around these very special people.  Here at TSH, we’ll start off our 3rd Quarter Educator Training with AMI-trained Founder of The Montessori School in Michigan Joanne Shango who will speak to our team this week.    Alongside our Montessori Foundation is the Socratic Method and we had a lot of fun with this during the week back from break with your kiddos.  Both took place in Ms. Jade’s classroom, but are applicable to all families who have enrolled children because we practice Socratic at every level at TSH.  Ms. Jade’s class didn’t start off the week all that great.  In fact, they were surprisingly disrespectful at a Special early in the week.  I met with them in their classroom the next morning.  Because Ms. Jade had already done a beautiful job at laying down the expectations of them, I wanted to instead ask them what it was about the Special that prompted them to act that way.  “We want more choice in our Special work” was a majority comment.  And in my view this is important.  If children are goofing off they either don’t know the expectations or the work isn’t interesting to them.  It’s our job as Educators to find that balance... knowing that some things might be “boring” but necessary (math facts).  It was easy for me to then go back to the Specialist and work with them to involve our Learners in their choices.  More than that, after I left, the Upper Elementary Learners wanted to create a survey so they could say more about their Specials.  Ms. Jade helped them create one which then this week will become a lesson is statistics and averages using something that is completely connected to their immediate experience - not something prescribed by a textbook writer! The second Socratic took place when our Upper Elementary Learners had a debate on whether or not children under the age of 13 should have cell phones.  In Socratic not only do you make your point but during the second half you’re asked to switch POVs and argue the other side.  When I tell you this is incredible to watch… so many cannot see the other side let alone defend it.  The Learners talked about needing a phone so their family could pick them up from sports, but the high majority nixed that idea.  They could have the coach call they said.  Others mentioned the need to have access to information, but again the high majority ultimately disagreed because they felt that the access to “bad” stuff was too risky.  Still others reasoned that once they had one they wouldn’t be able to get off of it “like grown ups”.   Reading, writing, math, science, history, geography.  These are EASY to teach.  Children are meant to learn… humans are programmed for it!  Much harder?  Confidence, oration, persuasiveness, kindness, disagreement, independent thinking, problem solving, self-care, respect, diligence, collaboration.  Yes, the AEC is the crossing of a Montessori Foundation with Socratic Method, Reggio Emilia and PBL, but more than that it’s our focus on their lifelong skills that makes me happy to come here everyday. Oh… and our Learners did a ton of things in February.  Making chocolate, creating their PBL book project, eating what George Washington ate, cave art (an introduction to the history of writing)… and much more here:


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