The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University has just published their latest resource: A guide for supporting the adult part of the families we work with. This guide looks at how we can support adults in building their core life skills, how stress affects our capacity, and how we can deliver information without adding to the stress! Check it out and spread the word.
I am very pleased to announce that enrollment is open for our upcoming course on the Neuroscience of Learning: An Introduction to Mind, Brain, Health and Education at the Harvard University Extension School.
Early results from the Landmark Five-Year Study of Montessori Education in South Carolina (public schools) have been posted. You can read summaries of the findings on the Riley Institute's website. Here are a few highlights from the study's many findings:
- Montessori students scored higher in ELA and Social Studies and comparably in Math and Writing to demographically matched non-Montessori students.
- Montessori students showed higher rates of growth on standardized test scores for both ELA and Math.
- Montessori students scored better on tests of creativity, social skills, and work habits (results were mixed for executive functions).
- Montessori students scored better on behavioral measures (in terms of discipline) than non-Montessori students.
- Montessori teachers generally love their jobs.
The full study is set to be published this fall. This is great information to share with staff and families.
My college roommate lives in Houston. She has been giving me daily updates on the situation on the ground there and it is overwhelming to even consider. There are so many stories of challenge but they are matched with stories of generosity, courage, and compassion.
Maitri Learning will donate replacement materials to any schools that were affected by Harvey. Just send us an email and we'll make a plan.
I am deeply saddened to report the passing of AMI trainer Annette Haines. I first met Annette during my oral exams at the Montreal Montessori Training Center in 2001. She examined me on the sensorial materials. I chose the cylinder blocks and brought the wrong block to her table. She grilled me on why I brought that block, why I presented it the way I did, what the purpose of the material was, and more. She drilled holes in my ego, the ego that had misled me into believing I didn’t really have to study sensorial—sensorial, I mistakenly thought, was the easy part of Montessori.
When I left that exam, I was in tears. I went to my room and studied and studied and read and re-read everything I thought I knew about sensorial. And, I realized that I actually didn’t know much at all. This brief encounter with Annette influenced every child and teacher I have guided from that moment on. I was left in awe and a bit terrified of her.
A few years later when I saw her at a conference, I immediately felt fear tighten my throat. I did not want to keep feeling afraid of her, so, I approached her. I thanked her for her thorough examination and told her how it had improved my teaching. She was gracious and glad to hear it. Moreover, she said she didn’t even remember my exam. I don’t know if that was true or not (I mean, it was pretty awful), but it made it clear that she did not think less of me. That, it turns out, was what I had feared. At that moment, she became my mentor.
In the years since, I have reached out to Annette so many times. She guided me as I founded Maitri Learning. She helped me refine my designs to make sure I considered all aspects of the child’s needs and view. Later, as I returned to teaching in the public school setting, she was an invaluable sounding board to discuss the unique challenges our school faced. When I was in graduate school at Harvard, she and I would discuss the current neuroscience research that supported Montessori’s work. Most recently, she invited me to present what I had learned from helping to teach the Neuroscience of Learning course at Harvard to the AMI Scientific Pedagogy meeting in Amsterdam. Always, she encouraged me and believed that I had some useful role to play in the Montessori revolution.
I am just in tears as I realize that Annette is gone. She was a great guiding force in the Montessori world but also for me personally. When I have questions about the pedagogy, I automatically think, “I’ll email Annette.” What will I do now? There are so many other wonderful Montessorians, but no one is quite like her. She held me to a higher standard and I raised myself up as a result.
To say I will miss her is like saying the sun is warm—a miniscule phrase for an enormous truth.
A fund is being established in Annette's memory that will provide scholarships for students at the Montessori Lab School in St. Louis. Donations can be sent to the Montessori Training Centre, 3854 Washington Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108.
Julia is honored to be returning to the extraordinary Montessorians in South Carolina to offer the keynote at their annual conference. South Carolina has done heroic work in bringing Montessori to its public schools and making private Montessori strong statewide.
Come learn more about their work and delve into their conference theme of Courtesy and Cognition. Julia will be speaking about the connections between social behavior and learning as part of her keynote.